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: Mother Bunch Brewing, 825 North Seventh Street
The Hours: Mother Bunch's happy hour, called Traffic Hour, is from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Perfect For: Beer lovers, rush hour traffic dodgers, or groups of friends looking for a causal, post-work hangout.
The Interior: Mother Bunch is a surprisingly large space that somehow manages to feel cozy instead of sprawling. Ample bar seating, high-tops, low-tops, and booths are positioned around the brewery, which means that all types of seating snobs will find somewhere enjoyable to perch themselves. Large television screens over the bar broadcast sports, giving diners the opportunity to watch their favorite teams in the cheery restaurant. Servers are friendly and come by tables regularly, happy to offer another drink or a suggestion of which plate to order next.
The Food: We ordered three dishes to snack on during Traffic Hour: gourgeres ($4), described as "light, airy cheese puffs" made by incorporating cheese into a traditional pâte à choux dough and served with tomato jam; roasted garlic ($5), a generous helping of mashed garlic and olive oil spread, served with bread and crostini; and the Mother Loaded Fries ($7.50), a heaping plate of French fries "smothered in cheddar cheese," tomato, green onion, a choice of smoked tri-tip, smoked chicken, or bacon, and finished with housemade mustard.
We were a little disappointed with the gourgeres, which lacked flavor that even the sweet tomato jam couldn't remedy. On the other hand, the roasted garlic was packed with flavor and made us glad we didn't bring a date along to Traffic Hour. While the garlic spread was a tad one-note, it was to be expected, and who doesn't like garlic anyway? The loaded fries were above and beyond the best thing we ate at Mother Bunch. Although they could have been warmer, the fries were golden, and we were pleasantly surprised to see fresh grape tomatoes cut in half and sprinkled on top. It's no overstatement to say the house mustard was mind-blowing, and our understanding server brought an extra ramekin for us to indulge.
The Drinks: During Traffic Hour, all well drinks, wine, and draft beer are $1 off at Mother Bunch. We had a hard time selecting drinks from the tantalizing list of beers, cocktails, and wine, and ended with Mother Bunch's Cherry Popper porter. The housemade beer was deep and flavorful with a smoky finish, leaving us wanting to come back to try more from the tap list. We also tried one of the rotating specialty cocktails listed on the chalkboard. The Big Island, made with pineapple vodka, hibiscus tea simple syrup, orgeat, lime, and prosecco sounded like a refreshing take on a tiki cocktail, but we found it to be too sweet. In the future, we'll stick to the beer list.
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Conclusion: Traffic Hour at Mother Bunch is a straightforward, if not classic, happy hour. A handful of affordable, satisfying eats, a few drink specials, and a welcoming environment make it worth repeat visits. Mother Bunch has a large roster of excellent beers, and it's nice to have an opportunity to sample a few at discount prices. And though we would have liked to see more Arizona wines on the wine list, we realize Mother Bunch Brewing is, well, a brewery. The food menu, although hit-and-miss, is great for snacking and priced so that you can order a several dishes to share.
Don’t Miss: The loaded fries. While it's nearly impossible for French fries covered in cheese, veggies, and meat to not be delicious, Mother Bunch knocks this dish out the park with the addition of house mustard. Every Phoenician needs to eat these loaded fries at least three times, one for each optional topping: smoked tri-tip, smoked chicken, or bacon. Order extra mustard.
Skip This: We could have done without the gourgeres during our visit. While the pâte à choux was well executed — soft but structured, airy in the middle — there wasn't much flavor.