Best Bargain Happy Hour 2023 | Wicked Brews, Bites & Spirits | Food & Drink | Phoenix

The extensive and generously portioned happy hour items at this independent Ahwatukee brewery/restaurant let you make a meal out of a huge list of chef-created appetizers for a ridiculously low price. Choose from more than a dozen items for $5.50-$10.50, while bargain booze includes house brews for $4.50 a pint, premium well drinks or wine by the glass for $5 and specialty cocktails for $8. Fill up with grilled seasoned avocado served with sourdough bread and pico de gallo, edamame with spicy Wicked sauce, crispy Brussels sprouts, hearty homemade hummus with tons of pita and veggies, baskets of boneless or cauliflower wings, pizzas and more. It runs 2-6 p.m. weekdays (and all day Wednesday), with a reverse happy hour from 9 p.m. to close Sunday through Thursday. The expansive interior has a double-sided bar that's half inside, half outside, as well as a dog-friendly patio, making it a great place to watch games while enjoying the fresh air.

Lauren Cusimano

Located between Camelback and Indian School roads, the Melrose District is getting increasingly full of trendy eateries. But as the shiny new concepts move in, one spot is staying true to the classics. Joe's Diner, a bright yellow-painted brick building with green awnings and a tight parking lot, is often the scene of a long line of hungry customers waiting for breakfast. And Joe's is worth the wait. Order the pancakes, fluffy buttermilk creations made from a batter that rests overnight, creating bubbles that puff to perfection when they hit the griddle. If savory is more your jam, try the biscuits and gravy. The biscuits are another item that makes the most of the wonders of tangy buttermilk. Wash it all down with a coffee, served true diner-style: hot, black and in mugs that are an inch thick.

Bahar Anooshahr

SugarJam has hands down the best French toast in Phoenix. And the rest of the brunch menu is pretty outstanding as well. Chef and owner Dana Dumas moved her small bakery to bigger digs a few years ago and expanded the menu to fit the space. Her famous pies are still available but so are full brunch plates and cocktails. If you, like us, are hard-pressed to decide between chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, and that amazing French toast, don't fret — the French toast comes as a side dish that can be paired with other items. We recommend ordering a side for the table so all of your brunch mates can taste the magic. On the weekend, SugarJam knows how to turn up, so come prepared for a party. If you prefer a quieter setting to enjoy your morning meal, we recommend visiting on a weekday.

With a name that nods to a desert plant, Ocotillo's nearly 1-acre space connects diners to the outdoors. Sure, you can sit inside the restaruant's sleek modern dining room and enjoy the hum of the guests and the bustle of the kitchen team as they craft wood-fired global fare. But, there's something innately calming about Ocotillo's back patio, which is landscaped with native plants, including a small grove of palo verde trees. When they bloom in the spring, their bright yellow flowers dot the grounds. After dark, strings of Edison bulbs set the mood to this backyard like space that invites you to linger. And you can — head toward the back of the property to Sidecar, Ocotillo's sister bar that crafts unique cocktails perfect for a nightcap.

A fancy-pants dinner with a panoramic view of the Valley below might be a birthday or anniversary trope, but whether or not you need an excuse to dress to the nines and drop a few hundred per head, Christopher's at Wrigley Mansion is the place to be these days. Christopher Gross rebuilt the Wrigley Mansion's flagship restaurant in his name, a sleek and sexy space perched high above the Arizona Biltmore offering a razor-sharp breed of no-compromises fine dining that's a rarity around these parts. Too many hilltop restaurants phone in the food, banking on the view to fill the reservation book. Not this one. Gross' contemporary French menu is as showy as it is skillful, a flawless parade of artistry and craft served by a staff that moves with the precision of a SWAT team. But don't make the mistake of thinking the view gets second billing. The tiny dining room was carefully designed to show it off, and there isn't a bad seat in the house.

Tirion Boan

Bar food usually consists of the classics: wings, a pretzel, some version of a hot dog, maybe some pizza. But that is far from the case at The Brickyard Downtown, a swanky cocktail lounge in downtown Chandler. Not many bars have an executive chef, but at The Brickyard, Nick Gibbs commands a kitchen that consistently churns out exceptional bites. The menu is designed for sharing and sampling, so order a few cocktails and see how they pair with a variety of plates. Burrata served with apple mousse and pickled orange has a blend of creamy and citrusy flavors that complement the cocktails, while the lamb chimichangas offer a rich, warming contrast. Pork belly skewers served with honey soy and peanuts bring a savory note to the party, and churros elevated with berries, chocolate and creme Anglaise round out the experience.

Lauren Cusimano

Since it first debuted in 2017, the spot formerly known as Restaurant Progress has undergone an evolution. A few years later, its owners opened a wine shop next door called The Montecito. Over time, the two concepts merged, giving the dining room a bit more breathing room and allowing customers the opportunity to walk over to the wine room and select their own bottles off the shelf. Now called Progress, its romantic nature and exceptional food remain. Plan a date night to the Melrose District and impress your partner with a table on the cozy patio. If the evening turns chilly, heaters keep the twinkle-light-strung space nice and warm as you sip wine and watch expert chefs craft dishes in the open kitchen. Almost all of the tables at this small restaurant only seat two, so romance is on the menu.

Jacob Tyler Dunn

The steakhouse isn't a concept; it's a living artifact. It connects (via prime cuts) our dining past with its exciting present. Trends may come and go, but the steakhouse remains an eternal, experience-based celebration. That pretty much encapsulates why The Stockyards has been so important since it opened its doors back in 1947. Whether you opt for the New York strip, a ribeye, a Delmonico or a pricey chateaubriand for two, The Stockyards will grill your fine cuts of meat with true care and expertise. It's not about innovation through fancy dishes or novel spins — it's about leading the way by nailing the classics and doing it perpetually for each new generation of hungry guests. The Stockyards may seem overly indulgent, bordering on needlessly stuffy to some folks, but it's about inviting diners in for an experience that they can't find in many other places these days. It's a place that blurs the line between home and the old-school elegance of eating out, only with more red meat and way less pretentiousness than this dynamic may imply. You come to The Stockyards for something very specific, and it will continue to deliver as long as there are steaks to be cooked and whiskey to be sipped.

Jackie Mercandetti Photo

Repeat after us: The best steaks in Phoenix aren't in the steakhouses. If you want a competently prepared piece of cryovac beef that looks pretty and tastes predictably acceptable, go to one of the city's many Mastro's clones. If you want to see what somebody who actually knows his way around the animal can do with a steer, go to Persepshen. Chef Jason Dwight buys whole, grass-fed, organic beef carcasses from Arizona purveyors and slowly breaks the animal down over the course of months. (His walk-in is not for the squeamish.) In addition to eliminating waste, this allows Dwight to offer a wide variety of cuts at various ages, including some smoking flat irons and giant Flintstones ribeyes aged a mind-bending 270 days (not a typo), lending them a supple texture, concentrated flavor and a hint of complex, mineral-rich funk. Dwight offers different cuts as he works his way through the animal, and the more popular ones can disappear quickly, so it's best to call and reserve. He may dress them up or dress them down, but simply presented or fancified with sauces and garnishes, the steak he serves is something special.

In a city dominated by dusty ham-and-egg dives of dubious quality and kitschy faux-retro corporate chains, 40th Street Cafe stands tall as a bastion of quality, no-frills short-order diner fare. This boxy little joint may lack the patina and romance of the Tom Waits aesthetic, but the servers can sass, the kitchen can cook and there's even a tiny counter crammed into the back of its diminutive strip mall footprint. The food isn't artful, just pretty damn good — exactly what you expect, right down the middle of the plate. A Taylor Ham breakfast sandwich with an egg your way comes on bread griddled so perfectly it shatters. Pancakes are thick and fluffy with a gentle, sweet scent. The tuna melt doesn't fuss, filled with tuna salad that's little more than fish and mayonnaise. And local touches shine, like a "taco omelet" that arrives smothered in tender, flavorful chunks of stewed beef.

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