The Spot: Southern Rail Restaurant
300 West Camelback Road, Phoenix
The Hours: Social hour — as it's called at Southern Rail — food specials run from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., while drink specials run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Perfect for: A sunny day, a sweet cocktail, and a Southern-style snack.
The Interior: Inside, Southern Rail emanates a rustic vibe, with vases of fresh flowers spread out between tables, including a high-top community table. The patio, which includes an outdoor bar, is quaint and friendly and looks out to the entrance of Changing Hands bookstore.
The Food: Southern Rail's social hour offers half off a range of Southern-focused starters and salads. We liked that there was a lot of variety when it came to price. For $1, diners with a small appetite can enjoy a deviled egg, while hungrier guests can dig into dishes like gumbo ($4) or red beans and rice ($3.50).
The cornbread muffins ($3) came out slightly warm with a huge helping of black pepper honey butter on the side. The butter was whipped to a nice airy consistency, but was not very sweet or peppery and tasted a bit waxy instead. The muffins themselves were delicious, crispy on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth soft on the inside.
Next, we went for the fried green tomatoes ($5) on the recommendation of our server. The four crispy tomatoes came stacked on top of a thick, creamy spread of pimento cheese. The tomatoes could have been a little juicier, but we liked that they weren't oily. The cheese, meanwhile, hit the spot — decadent, sure, but just the right balance of sweet and salty with thick chunks of cherry pepper.
The Drink: Southern Rail offers a long list of craft cocktails for $6, plus draft beer for $4, and $5 glasses of wine. On draft, the restaurant has three different Four Peaks brews, plus a Mudshark Belgian white ale and a few others. Wines, meanwhile, vary, and included local offerings such as Dos Cabezas' red blend and chardonnay from Four Eight Wineworks.
If you like sweet tea, you'll probably enjoy the Gentleman Johnson ($6), with sweet tea, house-made lemonade, Whipper Snapper whiskey, triple sec, and fresh mint. We found the drink too sweet, made with too much triple sec. The one, small mint leaf also felt like an after thought rather than a real ingredient.
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Conclusion: Southern Rail's happy hour is pleasant, thanks to a nice ambience, a long cocktail menu, and some intriguing dishes. Still, we were a little disappointed by the execution of our cocktail.
Don't Miss: The fried green tomatoes with extra pimento cheese.
Skip This: The Gentleman Johnson cocktail, unless you're a sweet-tea enthusiast.