About a month ago, a new bar sprung up off Mill Avenue near Sixth Street in Tempe. C.A.S.A., which isn't an acronym for anything, according to the staff, is a unique sight among the other bars in the area. The patio bar is completely outdoors with an upper deck that elevates those in the casa so they can literally look down on other bargoers. If that sort of altitudinal superiority doesn't do it for you, though, maybe the playful Mexi-fusion fare and refreshing cocktails will.
It's hard to encourage cuisine that disregards its parent culture so outrageously, but just try to not get tummy rumbles when reading menu items like the mac and cheese burrito ($6), which you can (and should) add bacon to ($2). Then there's the abondigas burger ($8.50) with havarti, bacon, house relish and a garlic aoli, which you can (and should) add a fried egg atop ($1). If you're eating on the cheap, they also serve $1.50 carne asada street tacos, all day, every day.
As far as drinks go, you can snag $2 Coronas until the sun sets, which has made the bar instantly popular among the college crowd. C.A.S.A. also offers half-off drafts and $5 mojitos and caipirinhas during happy hour on weekdays from 3 until 6 p.m.
The mojitos come in many flavors, or you could try a caipirinha, which is Brazil's official national cocktail. While the concept of a nationally recognized cocktail seems too good to be true, the muddled mix of raw sugar and lime with a couple ounces of cachaça shaken into it is a great summer drink -- sweet, tart and cooling.
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C.A.S.A has got the view, unique menu, and Brazilian craft cocktails. Plus it's just about the only bar on Mill Ave. nowadays that isn't owned by Julian Wright. The main concern with C.A.S.A. now is whether it can survive the summer as one big patio -- hopefully so, because it's nice to get some new blood on this all-too-familiar college-area block.