Best Bar Food 2020 | 12 West Brewing Co. | Food & Drink | Phoenix

This two-story former event venue in downtown Mesa is now 12 West Brewing Co.'s second location, which, unlike the first spot, offers cocktails and full meals in addition to craft beer. If a few beers make you exceptionally hungry, or if you're looking to get dinner before a show at Mesa Arts Center, the menu at 12 West exceeds the usual bar food expectations. Food options start with shareables like smoked mac and cheese, Southwest avocado hummus, the Blap! Blap! Fries, and the Bretzel. That last one is a hefty-ass Bavarian pretzel paired with a generous portion of Belgian wheat beer cheese. There are flatbreads like ricotta-mushroom, bacon jam and fig, and caprese. And salads range from power greens to a poke bowl. But the best thing on the menu will be whatever sandwich you order. Maybe the katsu chicken sandwich — a spiced, extra-crispy fried chicken thigh topped with Thai chili aioli on a warm bun. Our pick is definitely the steak sandwich — grilled flank steak with beefsteak tomato, baby arugula, chimichurri, and pickled red onions, all piled on grilled flatbread. The smell alone should be a Yankee Candle.

Jackie Mercandetti Photo

The food's great, but the hang may be even better at Welcome Diner — and the later, the better. With its eclectic tables and chairs, Welcome's front patio is perfect for kicking back with friends and a beverage in hand, and there's quite a selection of comforting late-night eats on the menu for soaking up a night of drinking and debauchery. The jackfruit po'boy is a showstopper, as are the peanut butter bacon burger, fried chicken biscuit sandwiches, and mac and cheese topped with torched breadcrumbs. Or keep the party going and order an Old Fashioned or Welcome's own French Lady at the retro-diner counter. The fun times here don't have to stop until 2 a.m.

Cafe Monarch

Quaint and intimate, Café Monarch is the perfect setting for flirting, romance, and the intimate exchange of inside jokes between lovebirds. (Others have noticed: TripAdvisor voted Café Monarch the second-most romantic restaurant in the entire country.) The charming courtyard, modeled after a European landscape, has fountains and whimsy, and the staff pays close attention to the details. Gluten, vegetarian, and vegan requests are warmly accommodated here, and if it's your birthday, anniversary, or some other special occasion, your dessert will likely arrive with a sparkler stuck in it. The four-course menu highlights farm-to-table ingredients and includes some sumptuous entrees, including Chilean sea bass, New Zealand lamb rack, and duck breast. With everything so well taken care of for you, it's easy to sit back, relax, and focus on your darling companion.

Jacob Tyler Dunn

There are plenty of brunch spots around the Valley where you can take your youngsters, but how many of them have a splash pad? Luci's at The Orchard can make that boast. Here, you can grab a protein-packed power bowl or catch up with friends over mimosas without worrying about where to stick your kids. If you want to lean into family time, swing by the gourmet market, pick up a book from the Little Free Library, or grab some tasty gelato over at Splurge, the restaurant's in-house sweet shop. By then, though, your kiddos might be tuckered out from all the outdoor water play (you're welcome). 

What makes a steakhouse? One, good steak. Old Town Scottsdale's Maple & Ash has just that. You can polish off an affordable steak frites at the opulent bar, or steadily demolish an exorbitantly priced dry-aged tomahawk ribeye, which meets your teeth as a near-cloud of funk and umami. Two, the sides. Here, they are thoughtful, from silky egg agnolotti in decadent truffle butter sauce to a coal-oven crisped octopus. Three, drinks. You get a complimentary tipple when you sit down here. Cocktails are thoughtful for a steakhouse, and Japanese whisky bottles flash hiragana from behind the bar. Finally, the vibe. The juju here is all swank and chandeliers and high ceilings and mirrors. Having satisfied all the criteria, we declare Maple & Ash a complete, notable addition to our steakhouse scene.

Greasy spoon. Hash joint. Whatever you want to call it, Roosevelt Diner in the Garfield District is a gem. This petite eatery has gone by several names over the years, starting with the Hi-Way Diner, which is what it was called back in 1982, when a man named Robert Young had the building moved from Winslow and plopped onto a corner lot in Phoenix. (It's been under new management since earlier this year.) On the menu are the usual diner items — hot coffee, breakfast dishes — but also eight styles of gourmet hot dogs. Arturo's wasn't built for pandemic times — it's a nine-seater inside, and quarters are close — but there's an airy, lawn-like patio out front with picnic tables where you can spread out a bit and enjoy this tiny slice of Arizona history.

Jacob Tyler Dunn

It's almost like time doesn't exist outside Mrs. White's Golden Rule Café, which has changed very little since Elizabeth White opened the place in 1964. Over the last half-century, this family-owned eatery has served Southern comfort and soul food to notable people like the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Phoenix Suns legend Charles Barkley, former heavyweight boxer Earnie Shavers, and the Godfather of Soul himself, the late James Brown. Substantial portions of meals like meatloaf, pork chops, and fried chicken with steaming sides of collard greens, buttery corn on the cob, and rich mac and cheese are filling crowd-pleasers, and the cornbread is so deliciously sticky and studded with whole kernels of sweet corn that the cafe sometimes runs out. Desserts like peach cobbler, sweet potato pies, and banana pudding can push people over the gastric edge — but are well worth feeling stuffed.

Shelby Moore

Cornish Pasty, the beloved local chain, has everything we want in an English pub: a cozy atmosphere, a great selection of booze, and hearty food options. The interiors are warm and welcoming; the downtown Phoenix location in particular has a vintage public house vibe. The beer list is full of local, national, and international options, and if beer isn't your thing, wine and cocktails are also represented on the menu. The cornerstone of the food lineup is of course the pasties (we think of them as British calzones) stuffed with a variety of fillings ranging from the traditional Oggie with steak, potato, onion, and rutabaga, to vegan Guinness stew and veggie tikka masala. Also on the menu are English favorites like the Scotch egg and the Ploughman's Plate (kind of a British charcuterie board). Cornish Pasty has expanded to five metro Phoenix locations, plus outposts in Flagstaff and Las Vegas, so we're clearly not the only ones who love to grab a pint here.

We were psyched to celebrate St. Patrick's Day at Rosie McCaffrey's this year, as we do every year. Then, the pandemic hit, and — cruelly — March 17 happened to be the day Governor Doug Ducey told the bars they had to shut down by 8 p.m. Since then, there haven't been many days we've been able to visit the best Irish pub in town. We miss the quaint interior of Rosie's, with its dark wood and Ireland-themed decor. We miss the beer lineup, which includes local favorites, European classics, and more. And we miss the food, both the Irish-leaning items like the potato boxty and Harp-battered fish and chips, and the more standard bar fare like chicken wings and hamburgers. We're crossing our fingers that next St. Paddy's Day, we'll be back celebrating at Rosie's.

Jennifer Goldberg

Despite its mixed moniker, Haus Murphy's restaurant in downtown Glendale is pure, authentic German. Dirndls and lederhosen are part of the aesthetic, and not just during Oktoberfest. Chef Brett Hoffmann's traditional Bavarian dishes have been praised by Guy Fieri on the TV show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and include seven kinds of sausage, from German bratwurst to Hungarian sausages, five variations of schnitzel, and house specialties like beef roulade, stuffed cabbage roll, and Eisbein (beechwood-smoked pork shank). Yes, giant Bavarian pretzels are available, too, along with a selection of authentic Deutsch beers on draft and in bottles. Bonus: On Friday and Saturday nights, the Haus Oompah Band performs in the biergarten on the outside patio.

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