Nerd Culture

Can't Make it to San Diego? Celebrate Comic-Con in Phoenix at this Desert Ridge Restaurant and Bar

San Diego's Comic-Con International, one of the largest pop culture extravaganzas on the planet — pre-pandemic, it was 130,000 attendees strong — takes place this weekend, from July 21 to 24.

While some lucky Phoenixians are geeking out, it isn't easy for most people, even San Diego superheroes, to score tickets. And even if you floored your Batmobile from Phoenix to the San Diego Convention Center, it'd still take a couple of hours. And let's not forget about the bat-crazy parking there.

So if you're suffering a bit of FOMO scrolling through your timeline inundated with Comic-Con content, Phoenix New Times has a fix for you to get your geek, grub, and drink on right here in metro Phoenix.

ComicX is an 8,000-square-foot comic book and pop culture-themed restaurant and space-age bar in the Desert Ridge Marketplace in North Phoenix. Upon entering, there are lifesize renditions of Thor, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, and Spider-Man. And 20 other superheroes, villains, and cartoon characters lurk within.

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ComicX is an 8,000-square-foot comic book and pop culture-themed restaurant and space-age bar.
The Knight Agency
"You can show up to ComicX at pretty much any time during business hours and experience that unique Comic-Con feeling," said Lindsay Dempsey, social media manager of the restaurant that opened in 2019.

But this weekend, the restaurant is going all out with a meet-and-greet event with Spider-Man and Captain America cosplayers on Saturday, July 23 from 6 to 8 p.m. All weekend, fans are encouraged to wear their favorite character's outfit and enjoy deals like the Thursday, July 21 discount on sandwiches and weekend-long happy hour at the bar.

"You can order Rocket's Dirty Nachos. We'd like to think they would be one of Rocket's favorites," Dempsey says. The dish includes tortilla chips, cheese sauce, chicken, beans, pico de gallo, and avocado cream for $17.60.

Rocket Raccoon is a Marvel Comics character and member of the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy teams. In the comic book and movie series, he's a mercenary and weapons master. He'd probably like nachos.

"We sold a full-sized Rocket figurine a few weeks ago," Dempsey added. "Everything is for sale here; some things have $1,000 price tags."

"And that way, and you'll see the Joker and Wonder Woman," the tour continues.
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"And that way, and you'll see the Joker and Wonder Woman."
The Knight Agency

The DC Comics character, played by Gal Gadot in the 2017 blockbuster film, inspired the restaurant's Wonder Wings, a dish of chicken wings with a smokey buffalo glaze, crumbles of bleu cheese,  green onion, celery, and carrots, and a side of ranch dressing.

There are seven different sandwiches on ComicX's menu, including Bruce's BLT — made with sourdough packed with smoked bacon, romaine hearts, beefsteak tomatoes, and avocado spread — a hearty portion that butler Alfred Pennyworth could make at Bruce Wayne's request.

Then there is the Jugger Not Burger, with two Angus beef patties, barbacoa, bacon bourbon jam, Gruyere cheese, and caramelized onions — a treat even for the X-Men after clobbering nemesis Juggernaut.

Speaking of X-Men, Colossus, the most robust character of the mutant group, would probably order an Infinity Challenge Burger here, as it's the largest of the five burgers on deck. It's stacked with three blackened Angus beef patties, pulled pork, house bacon, ham, fried egg, avocado, roasted peppers, Calabrian chile aioli, tomato, lettuce, and crispy onions.

And for the vegetarian comic book characters, including Scarlet Witch, one of the Avengers from the Marvel universe, there are options as well.

On the vegetarian menu, which is annotated by a leaf icon on the menu, there are Mozzarella Tower cheese sticks for $14.60 and Picante Corn Ribs for $12. Another powerful option is a Veggienation sandwich for $14.50, which comes with grilled shitake mushrooms, charred zucchini, avocado, roasted red pepper, baby arugula, and basil chimichurri in sourdough bread.

Then there's a Hen Solo "in a galaxy far, far away." Well, not really; ComicX is only 20 miles north of downtown Phoenix, where the 17 and 101 connect. Hen Solo, a wordplay on Chewy's trusty sidekick, is a brioche bun sandwich with hot, flaky chicken thighs tossed in wing sauce, pickles, and buttermilk ranch dressing.

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Up the restaurant's flight of stairs, the Star Wars motif continues in a bar resembling the interior of a spaceship.
The Knight Agency
Up the restaurant's flight of stairs, the Star Wars motif continues in a bar resembling the interior of a spaceship. Here there are lifesize renditions of Darth Vader, R2-D2, Yoda, and BB-8.

The slushy or on-the-rocks drink menu here runs deep, and the comic book wordplay continues. The Stark, named for the Iron Man himself, Tony Stark, has lemon vodka, strawberry lemonade, and club soda. DC Comics' Harley Quinn inspired a cocktail bearing the same name, made with Tanqueray Gin, passion fruit flavored syrup, and lemonade with a splash of strawberry purée.

"Hero Hour Specials" are Monday-Thursday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., when comic book fans can sip wine for $4 a glass.
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The slushy or on-the-rocks drink menu here runs deep.
The Knight Agency
And there's a variety of beer on tap, in the bottle — or a paper bag called a "Homer" beer. The patriarch of the cartooned Simpson family can be found in a lifesized version of the family, including Bart, Maggie, Lisa, Marge, and Homer, sitting on a bench downstairs.

The bagged Homer beer is $5.00 and "you never know what you are going to get. A surprise in every bag!" says the bar's menu.

A similar lottery gimmick is also popular in the comic book industry. Retailers stack comic books in a bag or envelope, seal them, and charge a set amount for what they call "grab bags," where some expensive comics are sprinkled inside to entice collectors to buy bundles of comic books.

As far as comic books inside ComicX? There are none as of yet. But Dempsey says, "we are just mere steps from the Barnes & Noble store."

She added that it's common for people to purchase comic books and anime books at the mega bookstore, then read them while grabbing a bite or a drink inside the restaurant.

The venue is also famous for metro Phoenix cosplayers — people dressed up as their favorite superhero, villain, movie, and cartoon character.

"You can experience Comic-Con pretty much every day at ComicX," Dempsey says. "You walk in, and a life-sized version of Hulk greets you, Iron Man greets you."

It may not be San Diego, but it's pretty close.


Desert Ridge Marketplace
21001 North Tatum Blvd. Suite 95