For a longtime Valley restaurant made in the American bar-and-grill mold, Sheldon Knapp’s Phoenix City Grille manages to go its own way. How can you tell? The menu has a full-on glossary to define ingredients so that, though the dining room is a bit dim, you aren’t wholly flying in the dark. With your short ribs and salmon skewers and eggplant sandwiches come ingredients like “chimichurri” and “salsify,” conveniently defined, but also, getting more to PCG’s soul and laudable sourcing, local favorites like chiltepin and tepary beans.
Chef Micah Wyzlic, now in his second stint overseeing the kitchen, uses the ingredients of the Sonoran Desert when he can. For years, he has been a steady Ramona Farms customer. This is reflected in the Ramona Farms Super Food salad, which unites many of its celebrated crops in a bowl jolted with a vinaigrette blended from chiltepin and Dijon. Other dishes pay homage to our greater region, such as green chile, carne asada tacos, and queso fundido with corn chips fried in-house. Steaks get a boost from a fragrant black garlic sauce. Specials, like a pork chop brined in vanilla, lean experimental.
Sneakily, Phoenix City Grille is a great place for drinking. This has to do with a deep roster of zero-ABV drinks, including a mojito, mule, margarita, and paloma. What stands out equally or more is a whiskey menu that meanders down five pages. Need a glass of Scotch old enough to go to college? Check. How about a high-velocity flight? There are several. And an Old Fashioned, a drink that, like the bar-and-grill concept, is made new? This one packs custom Buffalo Trace and maple syrup flavored with bourbon — a thoughtful riff on a classic.