In Phoenix, there still remain a few spots preserving the tradition of the Euro-style neighborhood bistro, the kind of place where there’s always some version of steak tartare on the menu and the owner makes the rounds on a Saturday night, greeting guests and pouring wine at the bar for regulars. Coup des Tartes is this kind of bistro.
Until the weather warms up, Bar Bianco will be serving not only a Vahlrona-backed, cinnamon-studded Mexican hot chocolate, spiced and spiked with Ancho Reyes-brand chile liqueur (if you dare) but a hot mulled cider, the product of apples grown in Willcox wine country down at the southeast end of the state.
House of Tricks, a jewel in Tempe's crown for more than 28 years, is tricky indeed. Don’t let its rustic setting fool you; though the restaurant is just two small houses in the middle of a grove of shade trees, the menu and the service at House of Tricks are as professional as it gets. White tablecloths and strings of twinkling lights add a magical feel to the woodsy surroundings.
Its name, Tratto, evokes the classic Italian trattoria. But the name also denotes, in Italian, shades of something slightly more precise and intimate: a brushstroke, sketch, or line. Tratto offers all the virtues of the classic neighborhood bistro: crisp white tablecloths, white plates, the calming glow of tea lights, and a cadre of serious-yet-friendly servers.
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Tiki is back, in a big way, in a tiny basement bar on Indian School Road. Every night at UnderTow is a dark and stormy one, in one way or another. The tiny bar — located in central Phoenix beneath Sip Beer Garage — was an instant hit. From its first weekend in August, the cocktail concept had two- to three-hour waits for a sought-after seat at the bar — to get a zombie, share a scorpion bowl, or try something new and different. After just a few weeks, UnderTow switched their approach to a reservation system — which brought clearer skies ahead.