House Party

Is all that gallery hopping making you hungry — and thirsty — yet? Be sure to check out The Roosevelt, one of downtown's newest drinking and dining destinations. Barely two months old, it's already a popular watering hole with local artists and other creative types, who line up at the bar for frosty pints of craft beer on tap. Located in a beautifully restored, century-old house, the tavern oozes historic charm, from its huge picture windows to its 13-foot ceilings. But with The Shins on the sound system, a friendly wait staff, and a rotating selection of featured wines, it feels vibrant and young. Along with liquid refreshments, The Roosevelt offers a casual, quirky menu of bar food, including a hot soft pretzel with mustard, an ever-changing cheese plate, and several sturdy sandwiches. Bottom line, it all tastes good with beer. And although this isn't a formal sit-down restaurant — good luck snagging a table — it's a great place to enjoy a laid-back meal with friends. Owner Matt Pool, who also mans the neighborhood favorite Matt's Big Breakfast, gives New Times the dish on his new business.

Don't call it a restaurant
I wanted this to be a tavern, a neighborhood drinking establishment where you can have good food, rather than a place with good food to have drinks. Still, a few people that don't get it are like, "How long is the wait for a table when you're full?" And I'm like, "There isn't a wait, you just gotta find a spot."

What ale's you
Most popular beer? I'm glad to say it's the house beer. I love really hoppy beers with a lot of flavor. To me, house beer means the beer that represents the house, represents our place. Rather than having it be like when you order a house wine — that usually means the crummy one that costs the least, which, to me, never made sense.

Ice, ice, baby
It pours at 29 degrees. What happens is, (the cooler) keeps it at around 34 to 38, and the glycol system cools it another four degrees when it goes through the tap lines. And then if you have a frosted glass, that takes it down two or three more degrees when it hits that. When it's packed in here, it's hard to keep those glasses as cold as they are. But if you're here like Tuesday at 5, you'll actually get the floating ice crystals on top.

Where the Roosevelt Row crowd drinks
You never know who's an artist and who's an urban art lover. But we definitely get the kinds of people who are living and working down here, especially on the weeknights.

Frankly speaking
I wanted to have food that I like to eat, and that you don't see on menus that often. It's not like I'm the first person to have an Italian-style panini sandwich — I don't mean that. But the beans and franks, that's my deal where I thought, "Man, people are either gonna think I'm really weird, or they're gonna really like it."

The skinny on the dip
The chips and dip — they're just chips, and they come with a pan-roasted sweet onion dip and a Maytag blue cheese dip. That's probably the most popular thing . . . I run out of it a lot. It sounds dumb, but it's actually kind of time-consuming to make. The onion dip, you have to almost caramelize the onions, and that takes a while. And I'm still making that myself — I haven't delegated it yet. And we're still at the point that we don't make massive amounts of things. It's all in small quantities.

Naughty nibbles
The Sun Devil Sticks are so good in a bad way. They're like Slim Jims. They're made by the Pork Shop out in Queen Creek, and they sell like five or seven hundred pounds of 'em a week, because there's all these construction workers out there who come and buy a bag. They're like the ultimate bar food — they're salty and spicy and they're meat sticks. It's kind of like my ode to the bars where you go and have the pickled eggs on the counter and Rold Gold pretzels.

The Roosevelt, at 816 North Third Street, is open 5 p.m. to midnight on Sunday, and on Tuesday through Thursday; and 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Closed Monday.

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Michele Laudig
Contact: Michele Laudig