Varsity Tavern opens on Mill Ave. for food, fun and drinks.

Texas-based Reign Group is about to open their second concept this year along Tempe’s Mill Ave. When the Varsity Tavern opens in early December it will be located upstairs from Rodeo Ranch which opened in August.

Varsity Tavern will offer a dine, drink and play atmosphere both day and night with over 8,000 square feet of fun. A wrap around balcony will offer guests a great view of Mill Ave., Sun Devil Stadium and the sunset.

“With Varsity Tavern, we’re pushing the dining and entertainment limits on Mill. Ave.” says Josh Regan, co-owner of Reign Group. “We fully expect these concepts help Mill Ave. become an undisputed epicenter of the dine-drink-play movement in the valley” says Reagan.

Shrimp and Pasta. All photos courtesy of Duality PR & Varsity Tavern

Dine

Executive chef Albert Hernandez is no stranger to the Mill Ave. dining scene as he was the executive chef at Monti’s La Casa Vieja. The menu is inspired by James Beard award-winning chef Robert McGrath who helped Hernandez create the Texas style food with an Arizona twist.

The menu includes unique dishes such as Pot Roast sliders, Meat Toothpicks with Chimichurri & mashed potatoes and the Sloppiest Of Jospeh’s on an Onion Roll. Brunch will be served on Sundays and Mondays and offer Potted Huevos Rancheros, Big Benny and Bananas Foster french Toast.

Drink

Guests can expect a wide range of cocktails, craft beers and wine at Varsity Tavern. Whether it’s a Bloody Mary at Sunday brunch or bottle service on a Friday night all will quench people’s thirst.

A full-time craft cocktail artist is on staff and has created cocktails such as Spicy Margarita and Blueberry Mojito.

Play at Varsity Tavern

The sports bar turned nightclub atmosphere will offer DJ spinning most nights and hi-def television’s for sports fans. Nightly promotions will offer Gold Fish Races on Monday’s and Bada Bingo on Wednesday’s. A lively Happy Hour also happens on a regular basis.

Varsity Tavern is on the southeast corner of Mill Ave. & 5th St. Hours are Mon. – Wed. 11 a.m. – midnight, Thurs. & Fri 11 a.m. – 2 a.m., Sat 10:30 a.m. – 2 a.m. and Sun. 10:30 a.m. – midnight. For more information visit their website.

Good bye Hawaii, it’s been fun. Until we meet again.

My last two days on Kauai were low-key and relaxing trying to take it all in of my first visit to Hawaii.

Laying low my next to last day.

I stopped for a donut at Daylight Donuts on my way to breakfast at Daddy O’s, a recommendation from locals the night before. I went with early bird special for $6.95. 2 eggs, Portuguese sausage and hash browns. One thing I realized is breakfasts are not exactly man-sized meals(except Da Big Moco at Roland’s Mix Plate) in Lihue. After a blog post I made a lunch run to Historic Kapaa town from the popular Tacos Al Pastor food truck. Bored of fish tacos I went with….al pastor tacos.

I found myself chatting with a California transplant to Hawaii who owns Java Kai coffee shop that I visited a few days earlier. I didn’t get her name but she seemed to adjust well to the culture shock after living on Kauai for 10 years. With 3 business’s and 3 kids she hasn’t slowed down. After lunch I strolled the main drag looking for that special souvenir t-shirt. Pictures and memories only go so far. Found the right t-shirt and what I thought would be my last shaved ice at Ono Ono Shave Ice.

On my way back to Kauai Palms Hotel I stopped into the Koloa Rum Company Store & Tasting Room. The tasting room is at Kilohana, a 104 acre plantation for visitors to explore with a train ride, restaurants, garden and galleries. A great way to get a feel for old Hawaii.

Kale was behind the bar and told me about the rum, distillery and the history of the Kauai sugar industry. I looked for the distillery in Koloa only to find out it’s in the next town over and isn’t open to the public yet.

After a brief nap I made my way to Rob’s Good Time Grill for dinner and couple of tropical drinks. Rob’s is a sports bar serving bar food and was the busiest place in town with most games on TV. Getting there for happy hour and $2 off drinks Ola made good Mai Tai’s using Koala white and dark rums. The pastrami burger was really good and uses locally sourced Kauai beef. The refreshing Mai Tai’s did their thing I and I was done for the night. See you tomorrow.

Good night the party’s over

With a full day ahead of me before my red-eye flight to Phoenix I tried to keep busy. Check out is at 11 a.m., rental car back by 3 p.m. what to do. Hoping to sleep in I didn’t and found my way back to Daylight Donuts before breakfast. With nothing but time on my hands I walked back to Roland’s Mix Plate for breakfast. Roland’s serves the best breakfast in Lihue in my opinion. Back to hotel to relax some more and pack up checking out just before 11.

I decided to swing into the Kauai Marriott Resort to see what it’s about. Glad I did as the beachfront resort is bigger than I thought and offers great views across Nawiliwili Bay.

I strolled the resort to a touristy shopping area and grabbed a lunch from a Kikukchi’s food truck. A local recommended the Ginger Fried Chicken Bao or Hawaiian Club sandwich with Ginger Fried Chicken. I went with Hawaiian Chicken Club sushi roll. A good recommendation. I saw a Shave Ice shack and couldn’t resist, Coconut Cream shave ice was on. Plenty of dining options for resort guests and NCL cruise ship passengers that drops anchor every Thursday. Time to take the car back and wait out the rest of the day at the airport watching football while planes land and take off.

A few things to know about Kauai and Hawaii

  1. It’s often cloudy and humid on the island. Rain in the morning but clears up. Blue sky is shared with clouds almost always over the mountain. Don’t forget sunscreen though. Temps at during my visit were between 83-92 F during the day.
  2. Getting around is pretty easy as Highway 50/56 is the only road that gets around the island from Kekaha to Hanalei. Traffic flows pretty good but slows down to a crawl through Kappa and Wailua most times of the day. You could probably do end to end in less than 2 hours.
  3. Most beaches are public and easily accessible.
  4. If you go to Waimea Canyon, locals suggest early in the day as cloud hamper visibility later in the morning.
  5. Lihue Airport is small and easy to maneuver with 1 terminal only 5 minutes from Lihue center and highways 50/56.
  6. Hotels are not everywhere, most are in the southeastern part of the island between Poipu and Kappa.
  7. Shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops are the norm. The evenings stayed warm in the 70s overnight.
  8. Prices are higher in Hawaii…I noticed gas about $4-$4.08/gallon. Most breakfasts are $9 and up even for a simple breakfast 2 egg breakfast.

I’ll be back to Kauai but first I need to explore Maui, Oahu and The Big Island. Mahoalo!

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