Restaurant: Founding Fathers Kitchen
Location: 3820 East Ray Road, #30
Open: Almost two months
Eats: Well-made comfort food
Price: $15 to $35 each
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday to Saturday
The Mountain Park Pavilion in Ahwatukee saw a lot of action toward the end of 2019. First, Angry Crab Shack closed. Then Founding Fathers Kitchen opened. We’re glad it did — overall, the food went beyond expectation. But here’s hoping the neighborhood restaurant and bar continues to mature.
Walking in, Founding Fathers has the same vibe as a neighborhood pizza joint found anywhere — exposed brick wall, dim lighting, very bright neon signs (do those fade over time?) — but with a few modern twists. The flat-screen TVs are tuned to whatever sports, and an oversize ceiling fan whirls above most of the dining room.
Music is a major part of the atmosphere, which is foreshadowed by the record in the restaurant's logo. Yet, the tonality has yet to find a groove. In one dinner, the music changed three times. First, it was pleasant soul and funk hits. Then it upped to some hair band arena rock. Fine, expected. Then it upped again to Top 40 at a much louder volume. For a late-night crowd, this would be welcome. Not so much for people just waiting for the check.
The bar seems to still be working things out, as it takes a little while to get a drink. The house’s craft cocktails looked interesting enough, so we ordered a Cactus Cooler and Father’s Welcome Punch. These drinks, though yes, sweet and alcoholic, were minuscule. We nursed ours, aware that it might be awhile before we'd have a chance to order another one.
The menu at Founding Fathers Kitchen ranges wildly. A full sushi menu? Yep. Reuben sandwich? Check. Short ribs, white rice, grits, red velvet bread pudding? You don’t even have to ask. It’s all here. Luckily, most of it is good.
Wanting to appetize, we couldn’t decide between the crisp calamari or Mussels Dynamite. A server suggested the latter, and we were thankful for it. Roasted green mussels came arranged like a seafood-y flower on the plate. They also came with dynamite sauce, which the server warned us was spicy. It wasn’t, but it was still good.
The fries, the chosen side for both sandos, were also unexpectedly good. Crispy, well salted, and hot. Those who didn’t order fries were clearly envious.
Bar food doesn’t always have to be good, but at Founding Fathers, it is. Being a new restaurant, we’re sure the service will sort itself out, and the music will pick a lane. Until then, I’ll just be daydreaming about those wings.