Historically speaking, bars aren't known for having great food. Serviceable in a pinch, sure, but generally not places you'd go to have a delicious dinner (or breakfast).
These days, modern bars and clubs are trying to change all of that by serving restaurant-quality food during the day before they focus on booze at night. Particularly in Scottsdale and Tempe, many places thought of as watering holes are now serving food actually worth eating during the day. Here are five Metro Phoenix bars we eat at without drinking -- or complaining.
It's no secret that Old Town Scottsdale has a lot of options for both restaurants and nightlife, but one of the area's most popular late-night socializing spots also happens to have a solid menu for happy hour and dinner. During the week, Bottled Blonde's 10 inch pizzas are only $6 before 6:00 p.m., but the real trick is to go during brunch on the weekends. There are only about 10 items on the brunch menu, but the Blonde Benedict, Smokey Breakfast Pizza, and Breakfast Calzone are all worth trying at least once while you're in Scottsdale.
In all fairness, the food at El Hefe's Tempe location is the same as the food at the Scottsdale location, but the dining experience can be much more pleasant at the Mill Avenue spot. Eating at the Scottsdale location isn't bad, but the Tempe site is newer and has a more open floor plan. El Hefe's tacos are the food that they're known for, and options like duck carnitas add some variety to the typical list, but we usually find that a plate of Macho Nachos with carne asada on top is the way to go.
If you don't mind sticky floors and dive bar decor, Casey Moore's might be our favorite bar to eat at in the Valley. It's also one of very few places in Metro Phoenix where eating oysters doesn't sound like such a bad idea. Oysters Rockefeller is a dish you just won't find in too many Arizona restaurants, but both those and the fried oysters are quite tasty in our experiences. For those who don't like seafood, the chicken wings are awfully good as well, particularly if you ask them to throw them on the grill after they cover them in buffalo sauce. Once again, we prefer to dine outdoors at Casey Moore's, but sometimes no amount of shade can make eating outside tolerable on a summer afternoon.
RnR almost didn't qualify for this list because it's more restaurant/bar than bar/restaurant. That said, plenty of people still go there to drink, and they have a live DJ with a lot of people dancing on the weekends, so we decided to still include it, because it's hard to find a bad dish at RnR. For brunch, RnR's plate of Green Chile Pulled Pork Breakfast Tacos is one of our favorite morning (or early afternoon) meals anywhere. Outside of the breakfast tacos, RnR is also known for their deluxe burgers, and we love their Animal Fries, even though they may have taken the name from a certain California-based fast food chain.
The no-frills sports bar off of Camelback Road in Phoenix isn't for everyone, but for those who aren't put off by the "neighborhood dive bar" nature of the place, it's worth checking out. The 'Dillo' Wings aren't made of real armadillo (they're just chicken), but when slathered in the Armadillo Gold sauce, they're a unique blend of sweet and spicy without being overpowering on either end. The "Munchies" menu is half-off during happy hour and filled with a handful of different fried appetizers, including calamari, mozzarella, and our personal favorite, the Papa Dillos, which are fried balls of potatoes and spices that turn into bites of absolute deliciousness when you ask for a side of the aforementioned Armadillo Gold sauce to dip them in. In previous experiences, their Smothered Chicken and tomato soup have also been high points.