The Spot: Arcadia Tavern, 4801 E. Indian School Rd. Phoenix, 602-840-3950
The Hours: Monday through Friday, 4-7 pm in the bar and on the patio only.
The Details: The Arcadia Tavern is a neighborhood gathering place where people seem to know each other. Think Cheers if Cheers had hi-def TV screens everywhere: lots of wood and brass, clusters of people at tables, at the bar, or just standing here and there talking to each other, hanging out, maybe watching a game, generally being social over food and drink. There are ten items on the appetizer list between $5-8, and six items on the light entree list ranging from $5-10. To go with the food are what seem like dozens of choices of beers, wines, and cocktails. We ordered from the appetizer list and had food enough to take home. When you order the Jumbo Pretzels for $5 at the Arcadia Tavern, you get two, and yes, they are jumbo.
See if Sam and Diane get married after the jump...
The Interior: It is the interior that made me think of Sam, Diane and the gang, beautiful wood
work and brick everywhere, tall ceilings, refined yet casual. Bright hi-def televisions line the walls and the place is well lit without being harsh. There are tables on one side, a bar space that is roomy enough for lots of people to fit comfortably without feeling cramped. Open from the bar area is a covered patio with several tables. It is exactly the kind of place to meet a group of friends after work and be able to have a conversation with them and definitely the prettiest sports bar I have ever seen.
The Cost: Whether you order an appetizer or a light entree, you will find something for $5. Nothing on the happy hour food menu is over $10. Domestic bottles are $3 while imports and draught beers are $3.50. Among the draught beers are Stella, Blue Moon, Newcastle, and Guinness as well as three pours by Four Peaks. Wines are priced at $5 and $6, and there are several signature drinks, such as the Prickly Pear Margarita, Grapefruit Martini, and Handcrafted Sangria for $6 (usually $9). Other premium mixed drinks are $4. It is possible to get a burger, fries (or tater tots) and a Guinness for $8.50 before tax and tip. Or pan roasted chicken and a Tanqueray and tonic for $14. Because an order of jumbo pretzels comes with two: We were able to get two pretzels, spinach and artichoke dip, chips, and salsa, and two microbrews for $18.
The Conclusion: Despite its comfy yet refined atmosphere, and great deals, Acardia Tavern suffers from a bit of an identity crisis. While the quality of some of their items are outstanding, other things are simply confusing. For instance, these jumbo pretzels ($5), whose portion/price ratio I have raved about, are delicious on their own with their crispy outer layer and moist, chewy yet surprisingly light inner layer, but served with a Velveeta based goo that frankly ruined an otherwise glorious bite. The Spinach and Artichoke dip ($6) is served with house made chips and salsa. The chips were light and crispy, perfectly salted, and the salsa had a roasted tomato taste that was lovely, so lovely in fact I had no use for the bland dip. This combination did not go together at all. The dip may have been good, but it was so upstaged by the salsa it may as well not been there. In fact, it was almost impossible to scoop the dip with the chips without the chip breaking into pieces, so I packed up the dip for home to eat with the second pretzel and enjoyed the chips and salsa as a duo rather than a trio.