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.

Scottsdale’s BLK Live offers a new upscale Social Hour menu

Scottsdale’s live entertainment venue and restaurant BLK Live has introduced a new Social Hour menu in time for the holidays. Friends and co-workers looking to celebrate can enjoy upscale comfort food, cocktails, beer and wine at special pricing.

The best part is the upscale happy hour is available twice a day Thursday – Sunday from 4 – 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. – close. Guests can enjoy Kobe meatballs, bourbon-glazed seared pork belly and crunchy coconut shrimp with mango chutney. Creative signature cocktails are offered at a reduced price along with $4 domestic drafts, well drinks and house wines are poured with $5 imported and craft beers.

BLK Live is at 7301 E. Butherus Dr. Scottsdale 85260. For more information visit their website.

BBQ, smoked meats and a pitmasters journey at Naked BBQ

There’s a lot of BBQ joints in and around Phoenix with more on the way. It’s one of my favorite foods so it’s always good to see what’s what and who’s who in the BBQ world. More times than not the people are just as good as the food they serve, this is one pit masters journey into the world of BBQ and smoked meats.

I visited Naked BBQ to taste the meats and get the lowdown from Oren Hartman  at his Scottsdale location. His affordable smoked meats and friendly service & atmosphere have Oren thinking about expanding his “Eat Naked” philosophy. Not one for the competition circuit he prefers to spend his time at the restaurants or any number of catering events he does with his staff and customers.

He has many friends in the BBQ community in Arizona and from his travels and many come through for a taste.

Naked BBQ

Growing up in New York there wasn’t much BBQ but college in Madison WI. and living in Chicago helped open his eyes to smoked meats.

Corporate America had Oren travel the country most weeks and not a fan of steakhouse dinners he would visit BBQ pits in the south and mid-west. When a buyout of the company allowed Oren to retire early he knew BBQ was his next career.

After much research and development Oren opened Naked BBQ 4 years ago at Bell Rd. & 23rd  Ave. in north Phoenix and a Scottsdale location last year.

Brisket, ribs and pork shoulder in the smoker

Naked BBQ is named as one of the 100 restaurants by Arizona Republic food editor Dominic Armato in his recent article “The Ultimate Guide to Phoenix Restaurants”.

The meats at Naked BBQ

The aromas of the oak and pecan wood capture you right when you walk in the door as you make your way up to the counter and menu board. No surprises here brisket, pulled pork, ribs, sausage, smoked chicken and few sides are all you need. Smoked in a meat carousel for up to 16 hours meats are usually pulled sooner if they tasted the way they should.

Naked is the way your meats arrive with 4 sauces available if you choose to. My first tray arrives with strips of brisket that are moist and have a thin layer of fat and are well smoked. My St. Louis style pork ribs tender and cling to the bone just my bite to help fall off. A side of warm mixed beans have chunks of meat scraps and a tinge of heat. Not a big fan of potato salad only a bite or two and I’ll save the calories for the meats.

Tray two brought 2 kinds of smoked sausage, pulled pork, mac n cheese and creamy & Carolina style cole slaws. The pile of pulled pork was juicy and flavorful.

Naked BBQ
Tray 2

Sausage is low on my BBQ priority list so it was good to taste the sausage situation. A lingering spiced sausage and a herbed savory link set the bar for me as I’ll have to start to save room for the links. All three sides were emptied as who can’t resist mac & cheese and I’m always craving a good home cole slaw(s).

Friday and Saturday night specials Oren smokes up Prime Rib then Brontosaurus (beef) ribs respectively.

Sauce it up

If you prefer to dress you meats with sauce there are 4 styles to choose from. Sweet, spicy, a North Carolina vinegar and a rarely seen South Carolina mustard sauce will give you a look at regionally diverse sauces.

If you want more heat ask for the hot pepper paste to stir into your sauces. If you dare taste the paste naked with the meat. A few local beers are on tap to help tamper down the heat.

Scouting for other locations to open Naked BBQ, collaborations with other pitmasters & friends and playing around with a retail line of sauces and rubs Oren’s second career tastes better than his first.

The 2 locations of Naked BBQ are..

2340 W. Bell Rd Phoenix 85023 Lunch only Mon. – Fri. 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. or til the meats gone. Fri. & Sat.  11a.m. 8 a.m.

10240 N. 90th St. Suite 105. Scottsdale 85258. Sun – Thurs 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Sat. & Sun. til 9 p.m.

 

 

Huss Brewing Co. celebrates 5 Years of Chasing Dreams

One of Arizona’s favorite craft beer brewers, Huss Brewing Co. celebrates its 5th anniversary with a festival. The “5 Years of Chasing Dreams” festival will be Saturday October 27th at Singh Meadows in Tempe. The brewery was started by Leah and Jeff Huss.

“When we started five years ago, Jeff would brew the beer, filter the beer, deliver the beer and sell the beer out of the back of our very beat up F-150 pickup truck.” says Leah Huss. Huss Brewing now have a Tempe and Phoenix Taproom and legions of fans(myself included) can find the beers throughout Arizona on tap in restaurants and in cans in retailers.

The fun starts at 4 p.m. and will include live music from Huss’s Uptown Taproom GM Mike Chapman and Nashville based Los Colognes will headline. Award-winning Huss’s Family of Beers and seasonal & small batch beers will be poured and gourmet food served from local chefs.

The family friendly event will offer a kid friendly roast your own S’mores kit.

Tickets for the 5 Years of Chasing Dreams festival are $10 with food and beer purchased separately. Kids under 15 are free and tickets can be purchased here.

Singh Meadows is at 1490 E. Weber Dr. Tempe 85281.

 

Flix Brewhouse anchors Chandler’s Overstreet development

Downtown Chandler’s new Overstreet retail and dining spot just scored big with Flix Brewhouse as an anchor tenant. The nine auditorium movie house will include a restaurant and working microbrewery that will open this winter. Located at Chandler Blvd. and Arizona Ave. this will be the first Flix Brewhouse in Arizona.

“We’re thrilled to call Chandler our new home,” says Director of Marketing for Flix Brewhouse, Greg Johnson. “The East Valley is the perfect place for a dine-in movie-going concept. Plus, Chandler is already well-established on the national beer map, so we’re looking to really add to the city’s profile with our award-winning brews.”

What to expect at Flix Brewhouse

The state-of-the-art theater will offer dine-in food at every seat and offer first run movies on wide-format screens. Guests can order award-winning regionally inspired beers brewed in-house in small batches to compliment the gastropub food menu.

Pizza. All Photos courtesy of Evolve Public Relations and Marketing

On the food side expect appetizers, wraps, salads, burgers, pizza and a brunch menu. A dessert menu and kid’s menu is also available. Flix Brewhouse sources regional produce and use scratch-made dough.

Each theater will include wide seats, ultra high resolutions 50 foot screens, Dolby sound technology and digital projection.

Brewery

The Overstreet development will opening in December and you can get update’s for the Chandler location at their website.

 

 

Mountain Shadows offers Wine, Spirits & Beer seminars

Your never to old to learn about wine, beer and spirits and the staff at Mountain Shadows resort and Hearth ’61 teaches us about all three. The Paradise Valley resort is offering an every other week seminar about wine, spirits and beer called Spirited Sipping Seminars. The 30-45 minute seminar is taught by resort Food & Beverage director Jim Gallen and bartender Travis. Guests will taste each of the three beverages discussed and be able to ask questions.

As the wine, spirits and beer world continue evolve learning the history, making of and trends of cocktails, wine and beer becomes more interesting. During the cocktail seminars you will learn how to make cocktails and receive the recipes.

Spirits
Photo courtesy of Mountain Shadows

Wine, Beer & Spirits seminar schedule

Saturday afternoon classes start at 3 p.m. and are $30 per class. The following classes are scheduled through December.

Oct. 20- Brews & (Taste) Buds. USA vs Europe.

Nov. 3- Craft of the Cocktail Gin: The Misunderstood Spirit

Nov. 17- Weekend Wine Sessions Wine for Thanksgiving

Dec. 1- Craft of the Cocktail Holiday Cocktails

Dec. 15- Brews & (Taste) Buds- Ales vs Lagers: Finding your style

Dec. 29- Weekend Wine Sessions A Bit of Bubbly USA vs France

Trapp Haus BBQ offers new specials for it’s 6 month anniversary

Trapp Haus BBQ owner Phil Johnson celebrates his 6th month anniversary with a party tonight and is offering new specials. Johnson who is also the pitmaster throws a party tonight as the popular First Friday Artwalk happens. Guests celebrate with an all-you-can-eat whole hog roast for $10/adults & $5 for kids. The party with live music starts at 5 p.m. and goes until 10 or when there is no more hog to eat.Trapp Haus

Johnson will be taking his recipes on the road later this month when he heads to Kansas City to compete in the American Royal World Series of Barbecue. From there he heads to Milwaukee show what he knows about BBQ with a cooking demonstration and class at the Journal Sentinel Wine & Food Experience.

New specials and offerings are now available until further notice.

Slab Saturday’s– Every Saturday $25 St. Louis Ribs all day long.

Free local Delivery– On-line orders in the downtown Phoenix area from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Tuesday Friday.

Weekday Sammitch Specials-$2.00 off any Sammaitch Tuesday – Friday from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Beats, Beer & Q- On Fridays

Trapp Haus BBQ is at 511 E. Roosevelt Phoenix 85004. 602-466-5462. For more information check their website.

 

Backyard BBQ at The Porch with Arcadia Meat Market & Huss Brewing Co.

Memorial Day weekend brings thoughts of cold beers and finger licking BBQ and The Porch will be the place to be on Saturday May 26th for it’s first Backyard BBQ. The Porch partners with their neighbors across the street Arcadia Meat Market for its meats and Tempe’s Huss Brewing Co. beers.

The dog friendly restaurant(on the patio) will offer an a la carte menu from 1-5 p.m. where chef Paul Lindsey will be grilling up a special menu just for the BBQ.

A DJ will be there spinning tunes and backyard games will be played with prizes available.

The Porch Backyard BBQ menu

Guest can pick and choose from grass fed beef burgers and pork sausages & brats made with beers as one of the ingredients. The menu is as follows.The brunch food & drink menu will also be available.

“Porky’s 21” $7                                                                                                             Pork bathed in Orange Blossom ale, smoked and pulled, napa spicy & sweet slaw, beer BBQ sauce, Porch pickled veg

Blondes and Brats $7                                                                                                Huss Brewing “Scottsdale Blonde” meets Arcadia’s sweet Italian Stallion sausage, peppers, onions, dash of chili flake

Husstler American Ale Grass Fed Grass Finished Burger $7                                                                                                                                           O.G. Buddies backyard style, LTO, ‘Merica cheese, BBQ aioli

AZ Green Chili Burger GF+GF bun $9                                                      Porky’s smoked Orange Blossom Ale pork, burger, roasted green chili, smoked cheddar, carm onions (cooked down with Scottsdale Blonde) sriracha aioli

Sides (choice 1 per above)                                                                                   House BBQ Chips                                                                                                       Grilled Local Veggies                                                                                                    Lisa’s Famous Potato Salad

Huss Brewing Co. Menu                                                                                                   Orange Blossom, vanilla mandarin wheat ale                                                       Scottsdale Blonde, German style kolsch                                                                  The HUSSTLER American Lager

The Porch is at 4017 E. Indian School Rd. Phoenix 85018. http://www.porcharcadia.com/

 

 

Rose All Day Happy Hour at The Thirsty Camel starts May 29th

With so much to see at luxurious Phoenican Resort in Scottsdale you may not realize they have fantastic lobby bar, The Thirsty Camel. Locals looking to escape the heat with a refreshing cocktail, sangria or glass of rose should plan to spend some time at The Thirsty Camel this summer as they start their all day happy hour from 2 p.m. -11 p.m.

Quench your thirst at The Thirsty Camel

Whether you choose to lounge out on the terrace or inside from May 29th until August 31st guests of the AAA 5 Diamond resort can sip on one of my favorite roses, Spain’s Muga or the sparkling Piper Sonoma rose for only $10 a glass or 20% off a bottle.

Prefer a cold beer, sip on Dos Equis , Corona or other beers for only $5. House made red, white or rose Summer Sangria are part of the revolving cocktail list created for the summer. A glass of sangria is $12.

Grab a bite to eat

You can’t have happy hour without a bite to eat and a variety of Sonoran style bites including Carne Asada Quesadilla made with Hanger steak and Grilled Artichoke Flatbread topped with Morel mushrooms, spring onion, pea and Stinging Nettle hot sauce are just a couple of bites available.

The Phoenician Resort is at 6000 E. Camelback Rd. Scottsdale 85251. For more information check their website.

PNPK opens in north Scottsdale featuring Craft Sliders and Deviled Eggs

PNPK owner Kellie Pruitt took a personal tragedy and turned it into something positive when she re-opened her Grape Bistro as the new PNPK after a 2 year hiatus. The new full service restaurant and wine bar in north Scottsdale opened in late March on the southeast corner of Scottsdale Rd. and Pinnacle Peak.

Tragedy to PNPK

When a family tragedy occurred in July 2016 Kellie stepped away from running her Grape Bistro to heal. Hiking the nearby Pinnacle Peak(hence the name PNPK) on a regular basis helped her heal and realize something good should come of her situation.

“Earlier this year, I knew I either needed to close or do something new, in part to throw myself into something creative to help myself heal,” said Pruitt. “PNPK has been transformational for me, and now I hope for the Airpark restaurant scene as well.

Bruschetta flight

Flights of sliders and deviled eggs

With its close proximity to the Scottsdale Airport, Pruitt figured flights of sharable plates would be the way for her new place to take off.

The restaurant features 13 Sliders to build a flight from and  7 Devilish Eggs to choose from along with Bruschetta Flights, Charcuterie Flights and more for guest to enjoy a variety of flavors.

Deviled egg flight

Guests can mix & match sliders served on petite Brioche buns such as Crispy Hot Fried Chicken, Short Rib French Dip, Bacon Jam with Angus Beef just to name a few of the variety of proteins between the buns. Sliders can also be served on gluten-free buns or lettuce wraps.

The deviled eggs are not your traditional  eggs with specialties being the Asian Wasabi and citrus slaw, Smoked Salmon with capers & chives and White truffle oil and chives. During Happy Hours guests can enjoy three eggs for $5.

Signature cocktails

Wine, cocktails and beer

Custom wine & beer flights focus on craft beers and wines from around the world. With 30 wines by the glass and 150 more selections by the bottle offering wine drinkers good value or the opportunity to splurge on that special bottle.

The creative cocktail menu pays homage to the surrounding desert and mountains with drinks that include…..

  • The Granite Summit: Bourbon mixed with fresh cherries that have been muddled with vanilla, a touch of sugar and topper of club soda
  • The Trailblazer: Gin combined with fresh strawberries, lemon, basil and a hit of club soda
  • The Gila Monster: A combination of jalapeño simple syrup, grapefruit juice, lime, tequila and sparkling wine (named because it’s got bite!)
  • Hi Jolly: Veev Acai Liqueur is the star here and mixed with fresh mint, lemon and blueberries for a “spirited” antioxidant kick.

A favorite is the signature cocktail  “Tickle Me PNPK Punch” made with sparkling wine, Arizona Prickly Pear and ginger ale. A $1 of each punch is donated to The Friends of Pinnacle Peak Park which is a group of volunteers that help maintain and care for the trail on a daily basis.

PNPK is open daily from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. with Happy Hour from 11 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. Find it at 23335 N. Scottsdale Rd. Scottsdale 85255. 480-305-0907. http://www.pnpkaz.com/