Each week we venture to a new restaurant to check out what the spot has to offer during our favorite time of day — happy hour. Whether it's affordable appetizers, delicious drinks, jaw-dropping deals, or none of the above, we'll check out the situation and report back.
The Spot: St. Francis
111 East Camelback Road
The Hours: Happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. every day. Yup. Every. Day.
Perfect For: Seeing Central Phoenix at its finest: Simple food, done well, served without pretention in a beautiful setting. Take out-of-towners, your date, or your huge crazy family – everyone will be impressed.
The Interior: Sitting in the shadow of its namesake, the Catholic St. Francis Xavier church on Central and Camelback, St. Francis (the restaurant) manages to be equal parts art museum, old church, and kitchen-table-away-from-home. Suspension cables crisscross exposed brick walls, where paintings hang and large mirrors give the impression of a much grander space. The center of the restaurant, literally and figuratively, is a wood-fired oven that roasts chicken, pork chops, and bread you’ll be thinking about for days after a visit.
The Food: The French onion burger is something to write home about: Smoked bacon, crispy onions, Gruyère cheese, and handful of arugula adorn this juicy sandwich, and it comes with your choice of fries or a salad. (All for $12 at happy hour, instead of the usual $15.) Other substantial offerings include Moroccan meatballs ($12), a forbidden rice bowl ($12), and the pork chile verde ($12). Even the smaller bites, like the baked goat cheese and crostini ($7) or crispy fingerling potatoes ($9) are served with so much flavor and finesse that you’ll forget they’re basically elevated pub grub.
The Drinks: Wines by the glass are just $5 during happy hour, and beers will run you $6 and under. St. Francis has a great collection of both (local Huss brewery is well-represented, and the wine list looks like it was authored by Rand McNally), but do yourself a favor and order a specialty cocktail. They are only $5 during happy hour (normally $10), and each is made with fresh fruits, homemade syrup, or both. If you can’t decide between a dark and stormy or the almond margarita, split the difference and get St. Francis’ house-made sangria. It’s a seasonal drink, in that it’s good during every season.
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Conclusion: St. Francis does not suffer from brand confusion. It knows what it wants to be, and sets about being it without fuss or fanfare. Though the food is a little on the pricey side, even during happy hour, you can count on a consistent, delicious experience. With all the options nearby (and more popping up, probably even as we write this), St. Francis continues to feel special and worth the extra shekels.
Don’t Miss: The patio when the weather is nice. Or, the fact that kids (under 12) eat free, and their menu looks just as good as yours.
Skip This: Beer and wine. Sit on the patio – or at the bar – and have a cocktail; you’re in good hands.