When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out, let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened — an occasion to sample a few items and satisfy curiosities (both yours and ours).
Restaurant: 12 West Brewing Co.
Location: 12 West Main Street, Mesa
Open: About a month
Eats: Upscale gastropub starters and mains
Price: $15 to $30 each
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to midnight, Friday to Saturday
In 2016, founders Bryan McCormick and Noel Garcia (who has since moved on) started 12 West as a craft beer tap room inside Barnone at Agritopia in Gilbert. The Gilbert tap room did not — does not — have a kitchen, but patrons could BYOF or snag something from neighbors like Fire & Brimstone, Joe’s Farm Grill, and Uprooted Kitchen.
This past December, though, 12 West got a kitchen and a new location — a two-story former event venue in downtown Mesa. Now, they're slinging cocktails, appetizers, and full-on meals in addition to the craft beer.
Then the food arrives.
The mains are both carefully prepared and delivered with surprising haste. Flatbreads are offered in inventive forms (ricotta-mushroom, bacon jam and fig, caprese), and the salads and bowls on offer include everything from a house salad and Caesar to a serving of power greens and a poke bowl.
The katsu chicken sandwich is a spiced, extra-crispy fried chicken thigh topped with Thai chili aioli on a warm bun, and (if you like) can come with those crunchy, piping hot Blap! Blap! fries.
The steak sandwich here leans creative: grilled flank steak with beef steak tomato, baby arugula, chimichurri, and pickled red onions, all piled on grilled flatbread. It’s an open-faced sandwich, slammed up against a mound of those fries. The best part? You eat this sandwich like a taco, carefully lifting it to your tilted head. With each bite, you get a whiff of the seasoned, extremely aromatic flat bread. This thing is better than a scented candle.