Our little band of Chow Bella writers is a diverse group, but we do have a few things in common. We all put our pants on one leg at a time, and we all gotta go. And we've all been to a lot of bathrooms in a lot of restaurants. Some, to put it mildy, offer a better experience than others. We don't want to ruin your appetite by sharing tales of the dirtiest restrooms in town (though we aren't counting that out as a potential future post) so today we've got an assortment of the oddest bathrooms we've found in the Valley. Know of another? Leave word in the comments. Better yet, send a picture to firstname.lastname@example.org and maybe we'll publish it.
You know what's really awesome after you've had four too many Moscow Mules from Hanny's? Trying to navigate the one-time mens store's bathroom area.
Whoever had the idea to line the awkwardly shaped bathroom hallway-ish waiting area with TONS of mirrors must have had a really good sense of humor because we have witnessed, on more than several occasions, drunk hipsters trying to find one of the tiny converted changing room stalls in a sea of dark mirrors. And once they come out, it's even more amusing to watch them try and find their way through the maze of mirrors back to the stairway to safely return to their group of friends.
It's super funny -- until it happens to you. Which it will. Some people think this is the "coolest" bathroom in town, but we would rather skip the fun house and just get down to business.
There are some things you only find in men's bathrooms, like sports pages tacked on the wall above a urinal.
The décor of Gallo Blanco's men's bathroom falls under this category. Upon entering the bathroom -- which, it must be noted, is exceptionally clean -- men are greeted by two large, gaping mouths attached to the wall. These red lipsticked lips, reminiscent of the Rolling Stones' logo or something from some kind of carnival ride, aren't just for decoration.
They have a very clear purpose -- namely to catch your pee. Standing there relieving yourself into a gaping mouth is odd, to say the least, and slightly shaming. We hear there's nothing that exciting (or particularly exciting at all) in the ladies room.
The Gilbert food empire of Joe Johnston is noted for many things: Fresh ingredients and consistent quality in a casual but classy settings.
That said, all the bathrooms in this guy's eateries are a little ... different. Maybe oddest of the bunch are the bathrooms at Joe's Farm Grill. This loo really needs to come with a plaque explaining that this is in fact a bathroom and not a toilet enabled museum exhibit dedicated to the 60's aesthetic. Or maybe that's antiseptic.
Between the cleanliness, lighting and the abundance of brushed steel, the bathroom feels equal parts hospital room and secret agent office. It would be shocking, but not unexpected, if one of the walls folded away and Maxwell Smart stepped out with a shoe phone to his ear.
But we're forgetting the dolls who more or less refuse to be forgotten. If you do not pee standing up, they will be off-putting but tolerable. If you do pee standing up, don't make eye contact with GI Joe or you'll feel his judging eyes bore into your soul. Even if you manage to somehow avoid the judgement of GI Joe and Barbie, it will be more or less impossible to avoid the TV.
We didn't mention the TV? Yes, there's a TV in the bathroom playing one of the kitschiest TV shows of all time, the British Supermarionation show Stingray. To give you an idea of what you're in for, it's Team America: World Police without the irony.
Soul-sucking dolls to your back, 60's marionette sci-fi to your front, brushed steel all around. There is literally no way to escape the weird built into Joe's Farm Grill's bathroom experience.
AZ88 is a longtime Valley favorite. Whether you go for the sparkly white outdoor patio overlooking the grassy Scottsdale Civic Center, the super strong martinis or the bacon-wrapped water chestnuts, be sure that when you do have to, um, go, you're prepared for the view. Of your own naked ass.
We love the sleek design of AZ88, punctuated by ever-changing art installations, a practice instituted years before other Valley restaurants were paying attention to what went on the walls -- let alone in the center of the restaurant. One holiday season, AZ88 stuck a giant Christmas tree -- festooned solely with 70s-era platform shoes snagged from the then-just-defunct Wigwam in Old Town -- in the center of the restaurant. Recent installations have been hit or miss depending on the artist, but we still give the restaurant props for changing things up.
We just wish that would happen in the bathrooms. Redecorated several years back, the small, neon-lit space is covered in mirrors. Which is fine when you're putting on lipstick, but less fine when you're pulling down your pants to pee -- particularly after a couple espresso martinis. We're surprised no one's had a heart attack in one of those stalls.
Care for a flush with your soup du jour? Pray that's all you'll get if you're one of the tables sitting just inches away from the only restroom at this tiny French bistro in Surprise. Think you can be discreet? Forget it. Coming, going, or literally going, everyone in the restaurant knows the score. And if you can't help laying down a chocolate dragon before the crème caramel, prepare for a restaurant révolution. Like the sign next to the shitter says, bon appétit !
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Who says bathroom business has to be a solo affair? In the loo at this oasis of casual eats in North Phoenix, a cushy green chair sits right next to the porcelain throne, meaning you and your best bathroom buddy can catch up on the day's events, play a game of iPhone Scrabble, or hell, just get busy in that comfy chair Mile High style and wash up afterwards in the same place - not that we've done it or anything.
Want to know what you really look like after that meal? This upscale pizza joint in Carefree ensures you get an eyeful of it - and then some -- in their water closet. A carnival-style house of mirrors from floor to ceiling not only lets you take in your half-naked ass squatting on the toilet, a la AZ88 (pretty!), but attempts at leaving often result in staggering around with arms outstretched in a desperate search for a doorknob or a pail to throw up into.