First Taste

First Sip: The Wayward Is One of the Most Phoenix Taphouses You Could Visit

Baya Gose Sour from 1912 Brewing Company in Tucson on the patio at The Wayward Taphouse.
Baya Gose Sour from 1912 Brewing Company in Tucson on the patio at The Wayward Taphouse. Lauren Cusimano
When a new spot opens in town, we're eager 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: The Wayward Taphouse
Location: 1028 Grand Avenue
Eats/drinks: Beer and wine
Open: About two months
Price: $$
Hours: 1 p.m. to midnight Tuesday to Thursday, 1 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday to Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday

Wayward Taphouse arrived at a time when we were in great need of patios. The beer joint and bottle shop opened this fall in the Grand Avenue Arts District, in the old Paisley Violin storefront — i.e., the nearly 100-year-old building formerly occupied by ThirdSpace, a beloved café and restaurant in operation between 2014 and 2019.

The outdoor seating here is just plain nice: sunny on one side, shaded on another, with abundant and well-spaced metal tables and chairs. It’s also outside food- and dog-friendly. Friendly neighborhood cats wander in and out. The Wayward anchors a small cluster of historic structures at Grand and 11th avenues. The tiny casitas out back, which frame the patio, are former prisoner-of-war houses. A handful of small businesses — Novel Ice Cream, Electrik Needle Tattoo, etc. — are part of the patio view, as well as a Trump-themed billboard. You know, the one where he’s wearing an orange jumpsuit, standing behind prison bars, and flanked by dollar signs resembling swastikas and nuclear mushroom clouds? (Thanks, Karen Fiorito).

click to enlarge The Paisley Violin storefront, then ThirdSpace, now The Wayward on Grand Avenue. - LAUREN CUSIMANO
The Paisley Violin storefront, then ThirdSpace, now The Wayward on Grand Avenue.
Lauren Cusimano

The Wayward Taphouse was opened by Tyler Goolie and Hilda Cardenas, who both spent about five years at the also beloved Wren House Brewing Co. They know their stuff and have had their eye on the area. “A couple of years ago we decided we wanted to do our own thing,” Goolie told New Times in September. “We actually looked at some other Grand Avenue spaces about a year before ThirdSpace closed.”

The menu here offers mostly Arizona beer and wine — and the good stuff, too. There's F.Y.I.T.M. IPA from The Shop Beer Co. in Tempe, Caduceus Cellars’ Queen B Bianca from Willcox, and Terp That Cider from Cider Corps in Mesa.

click to enlarge The Wayward Taphouse is the spot for all you patio daddios out there. - LAUREN CUSIMANO
The Wayward Taphouse is the spot for all you patio daddios out there.
Lauren Cusimano
During this visit, we entered from the outside entrance, approaching the large open window where masks are required to order. We went with a 16-ounce Chasing Shade pale ale from Phoenix’s Helio Basin Brewing Co., a 16-ounce Wellenlänge Kölsch from Dark Sky Brewing Company out of Flagstaff, and a 12-ounce Baya Gose Sour from 1912 Brewing Company in Tucson.

Be advised, friends. If the craft stuff is too heavy for an after-work drink — happy hour is 1 to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, FYI — or if you’re winding down the evening with a final round on Grand Avenue, an additional beer fridge exists under the window, out of sight if you're outside. It’s from there we were later able to score a $4 Modelo.

Yet another fridge exists for to-go orders; it contains cold cans and bottles of more local brews, as well as the imported and domestic stuff: Four Peaks Peach Ale, Mother Road Tower Station, Arizona Wilderness Biere De Wassai, Wren House’s Monte Vista, and Koffee Kolsch from Huss Brewing Co. There’s even Bad Booch sangria, Coors Banquet, White Claw, and Coca Cola.

In other words, this isn't a place just for beer perverts, it's a wholly accessible taproom.

click to enlarge There's more beer inside than you might first think. - LAUREN CUSIMANO
There's more beer inside than you might first think.
Lauren Cusimano
The inside, too, may come in handy when things heat up and case numbers go down. Thankfully, the taphouse’s 1,300-square-foot interior is as equally pleasing as its exterior. Goolie and Cardenas kept the exposed brick but also completed a lot of renovations. They installed two chandeliers by local artist Mike Butzine and hope to add more local art.

During our visit, the vibe was daytime calm and welcoming. A playlist was going with soft-volume nu metal and pop-punk, which was fun. The bartender was extremely chill. The place was dim, lit only by the little sunlight coming through the ordering window. Two friends were perched at the bar. Everyone else was outside.

And the best part about The Wayward Taphouse? Goolie and Cardenas signed a five-year lease. But let's hope we're still meeting on the patio well after that.
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Lauren Cusimano is Phoenix New Times' food and drink editor. She is a journalist and food waste writer based in Tempe. Joys include eating wings, riding bikes, knowing everyone at the bar, talking too much about The Simpsons, and falling asleep while reading.
Contact: Lauren Cusimano