The Social Hall, a Latin-inflected restaurant that opened in Tempe earlier this year, will be opening Rafter Room, a second-story room, on Friday, June 22. Rafter Room feels different from the current restaurant. There is a more calculated mood. There are no hammocks, no arcades.
What you will find, instead, is an 85-seat room that seems to belong someplace outside the Valley.
Rafter Room has a V-shaped ceiling that is 27-feet tall at the point. The walls and ceiling have been stained to look distressed, and they do. The room is cavernous, so dim it feels moodily dark. At the far end: a bar under a high wall of artful lights.
The enormity of the space feels welcoming. The air-conditioning bill must be catastrophic.
All said, Rafter Room feels like a cross between a speakeasy, a barn, and a Vermont ski lodge. Camila Gibbs designed the space. She and co-owner Michael Kenney made the renovations, including sheeting, painting, sanding, etc. This final space, Kenney says, completes the vision for The Social Hall.
“You could potentially go on four dates here,” he says, referencing the many rooms (patio, bar, game room, upstairs…).
Drinks at the Social Hall will reflect the Latin-Caribbean theme, in both ingredients (citrus, tropical fruits) and spirits. Spirit-wise, rum and tequila will be king. Aged versions of these spirits will be a focus, though you won’t find bottles with prices too stratospheric.
The cocktail menu is cut into classic cocktails, like French 75s and whiskey sours, and Rafter Room original tinctures. The original section is about three times as large as the classic. It features a lineup of creations like Cool Again (gin, cucumber, mint, and lime) and the Where’s Zeus (strawberry-infused mezcal with house-made ginger beer, basil, and lime).
Brightness and freshness appear to be the target here.
You can only get these cocktails in Rafter Room. There will also be beer bottles available. But if you want to sip a draft brew while you listen to the tunes flowing from the bandstand on days of live music, you’ll need to grab one from downstairs.
Rafter Room is about the cocktail. As you first look into the room, the space carries your eye directly to the bar.
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Food in the Rafter Room is the same as downstairs. It is Latin-inspired and overseen by Jason Diaz, formerly of Mariposa Grill (Sedona) and Wrigley Mansion. Green chile burgers, mahi-mahi fish tacos, 12-ounce pork chops, huevos rancheros, and other down-the-middle pan-Latin fare comprise the menu, which the cocktail program was built to complement.
Again, Rafter Room opens at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 22. The space is 21-plus during normal hours. Happy hour prices will be offered for the whole first weekend.
The Social Hall. 715 South McClintock Drive, Tempe; 480-747-3851.
Sunday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.