Fired Up Grill: Happy Hour Report Card
The Hummus Trio ($4.50 at happy hour) at Fired Up Grill is a testament to the bistro's obsession with spice: Be prepared for the rich and smoky Chipotle hummus - it bites back.
The Hours: 3 to 7 p.m. Every Day
The Details: All 15 appetizers are half off, from the popular Mussels Marinara (regularly $9.99) to the classic Assorted Cheese Board ($11.99). Drinks are all $1 off, so you can pick from the extensive wine list or try one of the signature cocktails.
The Interior: Fired Up Grill is located in the part of Chandler that is very nearly Tempe and very nearly Ahwatukee, just steps away from the very same Buca di Beppo where Fired Up owner (then Buca manager) Joe Busone's dismissal inspired a staff walkout that shut the restaurant down - an incident of solidarity that garnered national attention. Those same servers followed Busone to Fired Up Grill, and three years later, the restaurant still feels like one big family.
The Baked Bruschetta ($4 during happy hour) is generously portioned and fresh.
The staff show the same cheerful investment in Fired Up as Busone himself, and can talk you through the particulars of any menu item. Inside, the space is split between an open section of tables and booths and a bar that wraps around to the extensive patio (the large glass sliding doors are often flung open to let the outside in, and misters work to cool the coming summer heat). The walls are painted soft golds and maroons, and the complimentary decor blends with the restaurant's dark woods. A flatscreen above the bar is tuned to sports.
We listened as our server described the extensive behind-the-scenes preparation of the Chicken Flautas ($4.50) - no wonder you'll want to come back for more.
The Cost: Two appetizers and two glasses of wine (a list of $4.50's) will cost you just under $20 before tip.
A glass of Twisted Merlot is $4.50 during happy hour, when every drink on the menu is $1 off.
The Conclusion: If you're new to Fired Up Grill, the daily happy hour is a perfect way to sample both the atmosphere and cuisine. The appetizers are generous in both flavor and portion, and the restaurant dedicates itself to fresh ingredients finely prepared. Ask any smiling staff member for a recommendation and you'll likely spoil for choice: This extensive family samples all the dishes together (though chances are no one argues for quite as much spice as Busone himself; ask for anything "fired up" a notch here and you may get a chance to reconsider - but if you mean it, Busone can definitely deliver).
We followed our server's advice and went with both the Hummus Trio and the Chicken Flautas (both $8.99). Fired Up's penchant for spice is apparent in their hummus creations: jalepeno cilantro and chipotle will both give your palette a kick without sacrificing taste, while the fresh basil pesto will cool you down (and we didn't need to request extra pita - always a plus). The Chicken Flautas are a meal unto themselves, bathed in a green chili cream sauce that you'll want to scoop up like frosting.
Fired Up's happy hour may be outdone by some when it comes to drink discounts, but they had us at 15 finely crafted appetizer selections all at 50% off. With four hours of deals every day, this happy hour is a little diamond in the midst of a chain-heavy east valley intersection.
Overall Grade: A
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