Ride the Tempe Streetcar to these 10 restaurants and bars | Phoenix New Times

Streetcar eats: Try these 10 Tempe restaurants and bars right off the rail

The Tempe Streetcar goes by several noteworthy food and beverage spots steps away from the stations.
The Tempe Streetcar debuted last May and travels through downtown and around ASU.
The Tempe Streetcar debuted last May and travels through downtown and around ASU. City of Tempe
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After more than a year of rolling through downtown Tempe and encircling the Arizona State University campus, the Tempe Streetcar has settled in and become an essential part of the Valley's preeminent college town.

The modern streetcar line spans 3 miles and includes 14 stops on a L-shaped route that travels along Tempe Town Lake, spools onto University Drive, jets on Mill Avenue, funnels east toward ASU Gammage auditorium and ends on Apache Boulevard just west of McClintock Drive.

The route conveniently breezes by a plethora of bars, restaurants and coffee shops. Accessing these establishments on Mill is a given. But what about cravings for something off the well-beaten and stumbled-on path?

The streetcar, which is free through at least the end of the year, makes it easy to grab a bite or drink away from the buzz of downtown, so you can feel free to explore without worrying about a ride-hailing service or the comfort level of your shoes.

The establishments are plentiful, but here’s a collection of 10 great starting places that will take care of you from breakfast to last call. All but one is a short, 5-minute or less jaunt from the closest stop. Streetcars arrive every 15 to 20 minutes from 6 a.m. until midnight Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to midnight on Sunday.

Our guide starts at the north end near Tempe Town Lake and winds south and then east to the final stop.

Culinary Dropout

149 S. Farmer Ave.
Streetcar stop: Ash & Third, or Tempe Beach Park/Rio Salado
Estimated walking time and distance: 5 minutes or .3 miles
Play lawn games, cheer on ASU sports and spread out at this popular dining and lounging hub. At Culinary Dropout, snack on gochujang brussels sprouts and Marcona almonds or split the platter of BBQ pork belly nachos with pals. The made-to-order fried chicken with a buttermilk biscuit, gravy and potatoes takes extra time so place that order first, but the slight wait is worth it. Wines are served by the glass in 6 or 9-ounce pours, and draft beer comes in 16 or 20-ounce servings.

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Bite into a burger at Lodge Sasquatch Kitchen.
Lodge Sasquatch Kitchen

Lodge Sasquatch Kitchen

26 S. Farmer Ave.
Streetcar stop: Ash & Third, or Tempe Beach Park/Rio Salado
Estimated walking time or distance: 5 minutes or .3 miles
Get the outdoorsy cabin feel without the bugs at this stick-to-your-ribs bar favorites joint. Bacon-wrapped jalapenos, nachos and soft pretzels served with Lodge beer cheese and spicy mustard are solid openers at Lodge Sasquatch Kitchen. Various chicken sandwiches and salads aim to please, but the burgers are king. The Triple D Burger that got the spotlight on Guy Fieri’s Food Network show "Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives" boasts a habanero-infused patty topped with parmesan, bigfoot dip, and tons of bacon. The Sasquatch burger is downright dare-worthy and Instagrammable with a huge patty buried under bacon, fried onion strings and cheese, smothered between two Texas toast grilled cheese sandwiches.

Fresh Maine lobster on a New England-style roll is brought to the dessert by Cousins Maine Lobster.
Cousins Maine Lobster

Cousins Maine Lobster, Vib Best Western

511 S. Farmer Ave.
Streetcar stop: Ash & Fifth St.
Estimated walking time or distance: 1 minute or 351 feet
Just one of three Vib hotels in the country, the Tempe location of Best Western’s international boutique brand features a cozy yet sleek lobby bar offering a reliable trio of beer, wine and cocktails. Shellfish fans can get their fix at Cousins Maine Lobster, one of a handful fast-casual versions of the popular food truck empire and the only one in Arizona. Lobster is shipped fresh from Maine and served in tasty portables like grilled cheese, tacos, quesadillas and a BLT served with tots or fries. Those searching for a classic can stick to the traditional New England roll.

First Watch

111 W. University Drive
Streetcar stop: University & Ash
Estimated walking time and distance: 1 minute or 272 feet
Fuel up for the day or recover from a late night of studying or extracurriculars at this sit-down breakfast and lunch eatery. Hearty brunch signature dishes at First Watch include the BLT Benedict with poached eggs atop ciabatta, bacon and tomato drizzled in hollandaise, and the Chickichanga comprised of whipped eggs, spicy chicken, chorizo, green chiles, cheese and avocado rolled in a tortilla and doused with Veracruz sauce and sour cream. Replenish with kale tonic juice.

Cartel Roasting Co.

810 S. Ash Ave.
Streetcar stop: University & Ash
Estimated walking time and distance: 1 minute/ or 322 feet
Cartel Roasting Co. has locations around the Valley. But the original location that started it all from a humble cart in a nondescript business plaza continues to draw java fans. A succinct menu of mostly traditional espresso beverages showcases the coffee and a few signature items flaunt collaborations with local purveyors. Iconic Cocktail Co.'s lime leaf tonic mixer combines with grapefruit juice, sparkling water, salt and a quad shot of espresso in the Iconic Tonic. And caramel from the vegan coffee and ice cream shop Nami gives a gently sweet note alongside coconut almond creamer and cold brew in the CCL. Pair your coffee selection with a bite from the in-house bakeshop.

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Casey Moore's Oyster House may be famous for its oysters, but the French onion soup is no slouch.
Benjamin Leatherman

Casey Moore's Oyster House

850 S. Ash Ave.
Streetcar stop: University & Ash
Estimated walking time and distance: 1 minute or 338 feet
This neighborhood pub and perennial ASU haunt needs little, if any, introduction. The front, back and side patios at Casey Moore's Oyster House are always hopping and the inside flaunts all the dark dankness of a treasured dive bar where everyone knows your name, or at least your drink. The bar holds a few fancy spirits in bottles with a good amount of dust on them, but it’s really all about the draft, bottled and canned beer. The expected fried pickles, mozzarella sticks and wings are on the menu. But as the name indicates, the seafood is nothing to sleep on. Get oysters raw on the half shell, fried in light cornmeal, as a shooter with pepper vodka, or splurge and go with the Rockefeller, topped with the whole shebang of spinach and bacon baked in mornay sauce. The place is known to be haunted, too.

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This yellowtail taco in a crispy gyoza shell is one of the items served at The Graduate Hotel Tempe Food Hall, which offers a variety of cuisines spanning Mediterranean, American and Asian.
Georgann Yara

Graduate Hotel Tempe Food Hall

225 E. Apache Blvd.
Streetcar stop: College & Apache
Estimated walking time and distance: 2 minutes or .1 mile
Stop into the Graduate Hotel Tempe Food Hall from 6 to 11 a.m. for coffee, pastries and breakfast eats like a spicy avocado bagel, breakfast burrito or berry-stuffed french toast. Swing by after 4 p.m. and sip on a beer or cocktail while making a decision to start with bar nuts, chicken tenders or charred scallion dip with house-made chips. Among the main dish options, pick between a burger composed of two patties slathered with truffle mayo or an olive oil-poached cauliflower steak adorned with a warm lentil salad, romesco and crispy Brussels sprouts.

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The Pollack Pasta is made with squid ink at Zu & Pocha.
Tirion Boan

Zu & Pocha

1212 E. Apache Blvd.
Streetcar stop: Dorsey & Apache
Estimated walking time and distance: 4 minutes or .2 miles
The name Zu & Pocha comes from a Korean reference to a pub that serves food and booze. But with a seafood bar and craft cocktail selection that gives tried-and-true concoctions a thoughtful twist, this spot is far from your typical college town pub. Smoked chicken mandu in a soju ginger broth and crispy soft-shell crab grace the starter list. On the dinner menu, the handmade squid ink pasta tossed in a creamy fish roe sauce, perilla and parm is a must. Signature cocktails include a spin on the old fashioned made with Toki Japanese whiskey and ginger cordial.

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The La Di-Da-Dis, deviled eggs topped with grilled Cajun shrimp, are a customer favorite, Fields says.
Natasha Yee

Chic Chef 77

1221 E Apache Blvd., #104
Streetcar stop: Dorsey/Apache
Estimated walking time and distance: 4 minutes or .2 miles
Arizona’s first Black-owned wine bar survived a rough opening early this year after a car crashed into the building days after it launched. However, celebrity chef Nik Fields' new concept Chic Chef 77 has come back strong with a sleek and welcoming space and a sizable wine and cocktail list to boot. The succinct food menu features small bites that pack big flavors like deviled eggs topped with sauteed cajun shrimp, mussels in white wine lemon garlic butter sauce and Buffalo chicken dip accompanied by tortilla chips and a French baguette.

Hudson Eatery & Bar

1601 E Apache Blvd, Tempe
Streetcar stop: Dorsey & Apache
Estimated walking time and distance: 7 minutes or .3 miles
It’s a bit of a stroll from the end of the line, but this craft cocktail bar with an impressive spirits collection is worth the steps. Sharing the name of the neighborhood behind it, the Hudson Eatery & Bar plays like a dive bar but the pub grub gets a boost of sophistication in dishes like a hot roast beef sandwich on brioche and loaded fries topped with steak, black beans and cheese sauce. There’s creme brulee on the dessert menu and the rotating draft list is heavy on local, with brews from Arizona Wilderness, Wren House, Cider Corps and nearby The Beer Shop Co. The bourbon, whiskey and Scotch collection will grab the attention of connoisseurs as will the signature drinks. If you’re unsure, the bartender will happily customize a cocktail just for you.
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