Meat dishes smoked in-house, like the pulled pork and the baby back ribs, are well prepared; however, the lackluster sauces only hint at the sweet or spicy flavors touted on the menu. Not so with the Tavern Meatloaf, but the signature creation goes too far in the opposite direction. Arriving in a handled bowl, its seasoned ground beef and pork stuffed with a hard-boiled egg is covered with a cloying sauce that negates any other taste possibilities. Unfortunately, sides of salty seasonal vegetables and dry Parker House rolls do little to aid the entrees.

Oddly enough, the best dish listed under Tom's Traditions is one that does not utilize the in-house smoker: the fish and chips. With meaty chunks of cod fried in a light batter until golden brown, these chunky swimmers have a lovely, light crunchy taste, as do the crisp shoestring fries.

And although the apple pie may be recommended by one of Tom's helpful and delightfully friendly servers as the dessert to order, the ingredient said to make it unique, cayenne pepper, is heavy-handed, and the dish should be skipped.

Tom's updated versions of classic and sophisticated tavern-style dishes are more standard than outstanding.
Jackie Mercandetti
Tom's updated versions of classic and sophisticated tavern-style dishes are more standard than outstanding.

Location Info


Tom's Tavern & 1929 Grill

2 N. Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Central Phoenix


Tom's Tavern & 1929 Grill
2 North Central Avenue
Hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday

Diablo chicken wings: $10
Cuban sandwich: $11
Prime rib French dip: $13
Fish and chips: $13

I'd also recommend passing on breakfast at Tom's. As one of only a couple of diners arriving for a.m. eats one morning — plates of thin, salty bacon strips, dry buckwheat pancakes, and a Southwest eggs Benedict with tomato-heavy sauce that didn't work at all — I was not surprised when told Tom's was considering taking the first meal of the day away completely.

That might not be a bad idea for the downtown landmark. Since its rebirth last year, the Bidwills' incarnation of Tom's Tavern has proved comebacks can happen. But like any good football story, it needs to focus on its heart — in this case, the food — to keep fans old and new coming back for more.

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Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

I can't say the food was bad during my visit. I ventured there one evening for a brief repast before an event down the street. Unfortunately, I was seated in the Governor's Room. Plastered with pictures of Mrs. Brewer.

It ruined my appetite, honestly.

But, a wee bit of adult beverage helped sustain me through the dinner until which time I could get away from the glaring photos that reminded me somewhat of the rear of an F-16 taking off.

I will give Tom's another shot, perhaps soon. But I will be very careful where I am seated. Perhaps it will be better next to the kitchen, or near the back door by the toilets.