Geeks of the Valley, the wait is finally over. After months of anticipation, expectation, and speculation, the thing you’ve been dying to see is making its debut.
Are we talking about Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker? No, Padawan, that's still weeks away. Instead, we’re referring to the long-awaited ComicX restaurant and bar at Desert Ridge Marketplace in north Phoenix, which opens to the public on Wednesday, December 4.
And it's brimming with geeky influences, from its decor and cocktail menu to its slogan (“Where superheroes grab a bite”). Monuments to pop culture and geek-friendly subject matter abound inside the 8,000-square-foot theme restaurant, which offers seating for 200 people.
Walk inside the front doors and get ready to geek out. You’ll be greeted by the first of many life-sized statues of legendary comic book characters. Batman and Spider-Man are perched overhead on the side of skyscrapers in a two-story city scene that are straight out of a comic book.
To your left is a towering statue of the Incredible Hulk and ahead of you are the Marvel Cinematic Universe versions of Iron Man, Rocket Raccoon, and Thor.
These geek favorites are just a handful of the 30 or so statues arranged in various heroic poses and scenes throughout ComicX.
There are also displays devoted to characters like the Wonder Woman, The Joker (specifically the Heath Ledger version from The Dark Knight), Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and the MCU’s Captain America. A full-sized Silver Surfer also hangs from the ceiling.
It isn’t all about comic book heroes and villains, as there are also statues of The Predator, The Terminator, and Kratos from God of War. The outdoor patio in front feature statues of a Blood Raven Space Marine from Warhammer 40k and Po from Kung Fu Panda.
The bar also hosts a large display dedicated to the Halo game series and Master Chief, including a collection of 16 of his signature helmets arranged in an artful fashion.
There’s also a Harry Potter display taking up an entire wall that features animated paintings and a display case filled with props and ephemera from the film series. More than a dozen candles float overhead, re-creating the dining hall at Hogwarts.
ComicX’s second level focuses on Star Wars, with busts of Boba and Jango Fett (the OG Mandalorians of the space-opera franchise), statues of Yoda and Darth Vader, and a dining area that resembles an otherworldly cantina. And fans of The Simpsons will enjoy the mockup of Homer, Marge, Lisa, Bart, and Maggie sitting on their couch.
Martha Huerta, ComicX’s chief of operations, says the various characters and displays add to the geeky atmosphere.
“It just makes everything fun,” she says. “We have so many different things because it’s meant to be a different experience depending on where which tables you’re at in the restaurant. For example, if you're seated at the bar, you're going to experience the Harry Potter area. But if you go up into the Star Wars lounge, it's like you're in a different restaurant. You could come here a dozen times and have a different setting around you each time.”
And Huerta says ComicX’s proprietors will change up the displays and characters as new geek-friendly movies, television shows, or games are released
“If something new comes [out], we can update some of our spaces. It won't always stay the same and we'll always be changing things around and spicing things up a bit and keep people entertained and engaged.”
Here’s hoping they add Baby Yoda to the Star Wars area.
ComicX has more than 25 restaurants operating throughout Mexico, and Huerta says that each location features its own set of characters and displays.
“Each restaurant is different,” Huerta says. “Not all of them have the same superheroes or the same spaces.”
Phoenix’s version of ComicX, the first restaurant in the U.S. for the chain, also features more high-tech elements than its other locations, such as video screens and projections.
“Being that it’s the first U.S. [location] is that we have a little bit more technology, like the large dragon we have on the second level with a video projection of a moving eye or the video screens in the Harry Potter space in the bar.”
To complete the experience, a few modern video game consoles can be played by patrons and various collectibles and geek ephemera can be purchased.
As for why ComicX chose Phoenix for its first location, Huerta says there were a couple of factors involved.
“Phoenix was a natural thing for us because the brand was originated in Hermosillo, the capital of Sonora, Mexico. So Arizona is almost a neighbor across the border, so this is a place we know well,” Huerta says. “Phoenix is growing really fast, and the city of Phoenix gave us a lot of support through the whole process. So those were was really important with deciding where to open our first U.S. location.”
Huerta says ComicX will hold an official grand opening celebration next month that will feature superhero cosplayers roaming about and geeky vehicles like the Batmobile parked outside.
“We're going to have a big event with a ribbon-cutting and everything, but we want to have the restaurant open for at least a month to have everyone on their game,” Huerta says.
When it comes to ComicX’s food and drinks, its menu is also on the nerdy side. Among its vast selection of decidedly American-style dishes – which include salads, pasta, sandwiches, steaks, and seafood – are a few themed selections, like the Atlantis Coconut Shrimp, Lord of the Onion Rings, and a Supersonic Cheeseburger.
Gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly options like marinated grilled cauliflower (dubbed the Mutant Cauliflower Steak) are also available. ComicX also has a "South of the Border" section of its menu with various fajitas and street tacos.
“Everything is made in-house from scratch, like croutons, salad dressings, sauces, or our tortillas,” Huerta says.
Over in the bar, 10 of its 13 specialty cocktails are geek-themed, boasting names like Storm Breaker, The Incredibly Hammered, and Surfing Silver. They also have Harry Potter-style Butter Beer, albeit in nonalcoholic form.
If those aren't your thing, there are three beers on tap (Dos Equis, Bud Light, and Lagunitas IPA) and 13 domestic and import brews available by the bottle.
Here’s the full rundown of ComicX's geeky cocktails for those who'd like to get smashed like The Hulk.
Storm Breaker ($12)
Dark rum, Angostura bitters, and lime juice topped with ginger beer.
Russian Romanoff ($13)
Vodka, Kahlua, and bourbon creme stirred and strained over fresh ice.
Pop Rock Raccoon ($14)
Blanco tequila, blue curacao, pineapple juice, and lime juice shaken and strained over fresh ice in a glass rimmed with tropical punch pop rocks, topped with Prosecco.
The Incredibly Hammered ($12)
Rum, Hypnotiq, melon liqueur, pineapple juice, lime juice, and simple syrup shaken and strained over fresh ice with a curacao float.
Oh, Snap! ($12)
Empress gin and tonic garnished with grapefruit peel. Lemon tonic is also available.
Mind Stone Martini ($12)
Citrus vodka, Cointreau, lemon juice, and simple syrup shaken and strained into a coupe glass with sugar on the rim. Garnished with a lemon peel.
Surfing Silver ($12)
Tequila or rum, simple syrup, lime juice, and mint, gently shaken, poured over fresh ice and topped with New Belgium Mural beer. Garnished with a mint sprig.
Almighty Mai Tai ($13)
Mint shaken in spiced rum, orgeat syrup, curacao, Ancho Reyes, and lime juice. Double strained over fresh ice and garnished with mint sprig.
21001 North Tatum Boulevard, #95, 480-306-6780
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays
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