New Bar Alert

New Restaurants and Bars Along Mill Avenue Welcome Students Back to Tempe

The Classico Chicken Tinga Bowl at Anoche Cantina in Tempe.
The Classico Chicken Tinga Bowl at Anoche Cantina in Tempe. Anoche Cantina
Summer is coming to a close and bright-eyed Arizona State University students are descending on Tempe. Classes start on August 18 and students are ready to study, grub, and party.

And just like every year, the fluctuating social hub of Mill Avenue has had its transformations. Here is a roundup of all the food and drink updates welcoming Sun Devils back to campus.

These Restaurants and Bars are Now Open


The Lone Beast

425 South Mill Avenue, Suite 111, Tempe
www.instagram.com/thebeasttempe
480-284-5442
Mill Avenue classic Cornish Pasty Co. closed its cozy downtown Tempe location in December 2021 and reopened in March as The Lone Beast, a music venue with a bright pink facade and forest green tiled interior.

The menu features "Handheld Delights" like a Doner Kebab sandwich made with gyro meat wrapped in a pita, wings with a choice of sauce, a Scotch egg wrapped in sausage, breaded, and fried, and a Sonoran hotdog, with a vegan and meat version. A couple of desserts also grace the menu, including banoffee pie, made with a graham cracker crust, homemade caramel, and fresh bananas.

There are plenty of cocktails and beer, with on-tap options ranging from Guinness to Ace Guava Cider, plus canned selections like Pabst Blue Ribbon and Four Peaks' Kiltlifter.

In case entering through a bright pink door and jamming to heavy metal isn't your style, the original Cornish vibe can be found at plenty of other Valley locations, including the nearby pub at University and Hardy Drives in Tempe.
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The exterior of Darkstar in downtown Tempe.
Benjamin Leatherman

Darkstar Music Venue

526 South Mill Avenue, Suite 201, Tempe
www.darkstartempe.com
480-408-5010
Darkstar Music Venue is now open inside the historic Tempe National Bank Building. The space previously housed Charlie Trumbull's Tempe National, a restaurant and club that closed in March 2020. Darkstar, which is owned by Scott Price of Shady Park, C.A.S.A., and Sunbar, opened in late April. It's got multiple bars, a PK Sound system, a sizable stage with many video screens, and a mezzanine level providing views of a gigantic dance floor.

A brightly-lit sign exclaiming Darkstar in capital letters posted on the grey building at Mill Avenue and Fifth Street will lead you into the venue. Darkstar hosts live bands along with DJ performances.  Arizona music promoter Relentless Beats will also book electronic dance music artists and events at the two-story bar and nightclub.
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Tacos from Tacos Calafia.
Jacob Tyler Dunn

Tacos Calafia

414 South Mill Avenue, Suite 115, Tempe
www.tacoscalafia.com
Tacos Calafia, a popular Tijuana-style Mexican food joint, opened its seventh Valley location in July, though the official grand opening is August 27. The restaurant is known for its vampiros, open-faced crunchy tortillas topped with melted cheese and a choice of meat, al pastor seasoned with delicious spices and cooked on a spit, fresh salsa bar, and of course, tacos.

Those avoiding meat should try the nopales taco, a tart and citrusy concoction made with cactus, while meat fanatics would be remiss not to order the Frijoles Preparados with carne asada, a dish of brothy beans with tender sliced steak. The Nachos Cabeza with Mexican beef cheek are perfect for adventurous eaters, but you really can't go wrong with the filling and inexpensive menu at Tacos Calafia.

These Clubs and Restaurants are Coming Soon

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Cocktails at Anoche Cantina in Tempe range from classic to "Loco."
Anoche Cantina

Anoche Cantina

640 South Mill Avenue, Suite B110, Tempe
www.anochecantina.com
813-995-7159
Anoche Cantina is taking over the spot that El Hefe used to inhabit at Sixth Street and Mill Avenue. The restaurant and bar's grand opening is at 9 p.m. Thursday, August 18. Anoche means "last night" in Spanish, and hopefully you'll be able to piece together what happened on the previous evening, margarita bar, loud music, and all.

Anoche is owned by Ascend Hospitality Group, a Black and female-owned company based in Bellevue, Washington. The food menu features Mexican favorites like guacamole and quesadillas, plus tacos, burritos, and taquitos.

Margaritas include "Classico" options like the Cadillac with Patron tequila and a Cointreau float, while "Loco" variations like the I Don't Wanna Grow Up with Sour Patch Kids-infused tequila should satisfy even the wildest cocktail cravings. A make-your-own margarita bar will round out the festivities. Bottle service and table reservations are also available.

Six40rty

640 South Mill Avenue, Suite 120, Tempe
www.six40rty.com
Next door to Anoche Cantina, with 8,000-square-feet of indoor and outdoor space, Six40rty is set to open in September. The sports bar and nightclub was named after its address and is also part of Ascend Hospitality Group. It will serve "elevated bar snacks" like slider stacks in addition to cocktails and bottle service.

Rowdy fans can enjoy sports games on plenty of televisions whether they are rooting for the Sun Devils, Cardinals, or Suns. The outdoor patio will offer classic lawn games.

"After dark, we transform into a unique, ambiance-heavy indoor-outdoor nightlife experience with best in-class DJs, servers, and bottle service," the business posted on its Instagram in July.

Matsuri Izakaya

699 North Mill Avenue, Tempe
www.jinhospitality.com
Matsuri Izakaya, a Japanese street food concept and tapas bar, is set to open by the end of August across from Zipps Sports Grill, according to owner Eddie Chow.

Matsuri is the third restaurant by Jin Hospitality Group, which also runs Nanaya Japanese Kitchen in Arcadia and Motomoto in downtown Phoenix.

It's about time that the space receives some love, as its previous inhabitant, the well-liked La Bocca Urban Pizzeria and Wine Bar, shuttered in June 2020.

Chow has been pretty tight-lipped about the new concept aside from a few Instagram posts documenting the construction process.

"In the works!" reads Matsuri's Instagram bio, which says it will come to Mill Avenue this summer.
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A few menu items from Sake Haus.
Authentik Vision

Sake Haus

401 South Mill Avenue, Tempe
www.sakehaus.net
Sake Haus' second location has some legendary shoes to fill. The Japanese restaurant and bar's first location opened in downtown Phoenix in March serving a menu of sashimi and sushi with signature rolls like the Bad & Buri, made with yellowtail, jalapenos, and aguachile.

Sake Haus also offers plenty of sake and Japanese whiskey, plus cocktails such as the Tokyo Driftin' made with zen tea-infused tequila, yuzu, and anise.

The Tokyo-style eatery is the brainchild of Julian Wright, a longtime Tempe restaurateur who runs Pedal Haus Brewery a little further down Mill Avenue. Although he has recently moved his focus to downtown Phoenix with popular Roosevelt Row joints Kahvi Coffee and Cafe and Lucky's Indoor Outdoor, Wright has set his sights back on the college town.

The second iteration of Sake Haus is planned to make its debut on Mill Avenue this fall where Irish pub Rula Bula lived for two decades.
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Sake Haus has big shoes to fill in Tempe, as the restaurant is set to take over the space that housed Rula Bula.
Lauren Cusimano

C.A.S.A

5 East Sixth Street, Tempe
www.casatempe.com
480-557-8226
This popular Tempe hangout, known for its buckets of booze and a rowdy dance floor, closed its doors for renovations back in January to the chagrin of many ASU students.

But C.A.S.A. has been teasing a reopening for weeks, with "Now Hiring" photos on its Instagram, and another post that quips "Thursdays won't be throwbacks for much longer."

The bar's latest update reads "Back to Buckets September 2022."

"My liver cannot handle this news," one user responded. C.A.S.A. seemingly can't reopen soon enough.
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Natasha is a dining reporter who loves to explore the Valley’s culinary gems. She has covered cannabis for the New Times, politics for Rolling Stone, and health and border issues for Cronkite News in conjunction with Arizona PBS, where she was one of the voices of the podcast CN2Go.
Contact: Natasha Yee