Business

Downtown Phoenix’s Best New Bars and Restaurants

Take a sip on the wild side at Khla.
Take a sip on the wild side at Khla. Allison Young
click to enlarge Everything glitters at Châm Pang Lanes. - ALLISON YOUNG
Everything glitters at Châm Pang Lanes.
Allison Young

Which would you like first: the good news or the good news? Downtown Phoenix is blowing up with new bars and restaurants — and they’re good. Like, really good. From buzzy bars and inventive cocktails to tastes of Thailand and France, these newly opened spots prove that not even a pandemic can put the freeze on Phoenix’s food scene. Time to get sampling!

Palma, Châm Pang Lanes, and Ghost Donkey
903 North Second Street

At Second Street and Garfield, you’ll find Palma, Châm Pang Lanes, and Ghost Donkey, a trio of concepts that gives you three ways to play. Palma and all its palmy, pink oasis energy is the perfect place for happy hour. Order a Prosecco and popcorn chicken or a mandarin sangria and marinated peanuts and pretend that you’re on vacay. Châm Pang Lanes is a bougie bowling alley where bowling in heels and a miniskirt is never out of place. Everything is sparkly, from the disco bowl décor and glitter bowling balls to the sparkly signature drinks. Finish the night at Ghost Donkey, a madcap mezcal and tequila bar bathed in pink twinkle lights.
click to enlarge Lom Wong's traditional Thai food and inspired cocktails will take you places. - ALLISON YOUNG
Lom Wong's traditional Thai food and inspired cocktails will take you places.
Allison Young
Lom Wong
218 East Portland Street

Owners Alex and Yotaka “Sunny” Martin, who met in Thailand, honed family recipes and traditional ways to cook regional Thai dishes to open Lom Wong, a pop-up turned brick-and-mortar located just west of the Cambria Hotel. The journey starts with your server, who waxes poetic about the menu and its origins. The khun yaa cocktail, a sotol, Campari, sweet vermouth take on a Negroni, is a brassy and bitter sip nicknamed “The Doris” after Alex’s grandmother. The Thunder’s piña colada raises the roof on rum by adding coconut cream, fish sauce and house khrueng tom yum syrup for refreshing revelry. The kaeng phet charinda combines hand-pounded red curry paste, coconut milk, Thai eggplant, Thai basil, and beef for a steaming bowl of aromatic comfort. The yam mamuang boran, a green-mango salad of hand-torn shrimp and coconut cream with toasted coconut and peanuts, comes from northern Thailand via Yotaka’s grandmother. The captivating descriptions are as tasty as the food.
click to enlarge Take a sip on the wild side at Khla. - ALLISON YOUNG
Take a sip on the wild side at Khla.
Allison Young
Khla
218 East Portland Street

Khla’s alleyway entrance (behind Lom Wong) is the first indication you’re entering hipster bar coolness; the black-light sign with the tiger is the second. The Asian-inspired cocktail bar opens up to a narrow indoor-outdoor area with black walls, hand-painted white line murals, intimate seating, and rows of hanging lanterns dancing overhead, creating a transportive space that feels like Bangkok. The sips are just as alluring, with ingredients guided by Asia — Filipino rum, Japanese gin, and Thai chili-infused mezcal, plus flirty flavors like peach bitters, pandan crema, and peanut oil, a nod to co-owner Tyka Chheng’s bartender background and Cambodian roots. Take a sip on the wild side while drinking in the seductive setting. Insider tip: Order in drinking snacks from Lom Wong’s, like fried pork belly and a mystery bite titled “I’m drunk and I’ll eat anything (seriously).”

click to enlarge Wren & Wolf is open all day, but really comes alive at night. - ALLISON YOUNG
Wren & Wolf is open all day, but really comes alive at night.
Allison Young
Wren & Wolf
2 North Central Avenue, Suite 101

Wren & Wolf is far from understated. Located on the ground floor of Renaissance Square, it’s the ideal pre-prowl spot. Surrounded by real taxidermied animals, larger-than-life murals of wolves, and moody lighting, if the setting doesn’t get you on the hunt, the meat-minded menu of charred bone marrow, duck confit poutine, wild boar ragu and ribeye will. Plus there are the shaken and stirred cocktails with names like “Money on My Mind” and “I Love You, but I Love Me More” that jibe with the well-dressed crowd. Down a Punch Drunk Love — a gin sip with grapefruit, pink peppercorns and pineapple — and get ready to rumba.

click to enlarge Sottise's fruits de mer is a showstopper. - ALLISON YOUNG
Sottise's fruits de mer is a showstopper.
Allison Young
Sottise
1025 North Second Street

Tap into your inner Parisienne at Sottise, a chic and cozy French-inspired wine bar on Second Street just north of Roosevelt opened by Restaurant Progress’s TJ Culp and Esther Noh. Housed in a refurbished 1909 bungalow, the setting pairs history, including an Old World wine list and an antique sound system, with an easy, breezy Provençal vibe. Sit at a high-top, a cozy table for two, or on the porch while sipping delightfully refreshing cocktails like Sommer — an uplifting mix of tequila blanco, rosemary, peach vinegar, turmeric, and soda that tastes like a tall glass of summer — and snacking on warmed Camembert, beef tartare, and escargot de Bourgogne. For extra ooh la la, order the fruits de mer, a tiered  triumph showcasing fresh-shucked uni, giant tiger prawns, and mini tuna carpaccio, among other seafood delights.
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Allison Young has written about food, nutrition, and travel for Sunset, Women’s Health, Oxygen, Clean Eating, Mindbodygreen, and Prevention. Her local jam is food writing, where she happily eats her way across the Valley to discover the best hidden gems, hole-in-the-walls, pizza joints, and the latest Phoenix food trends. She also loves to pick Valley chef’s brains for their favorite food finds. On her website, TheGlitterList.com, she posts one thing she’s looking forward to each day, from food to books and podcasts.
Contact: Allison Young