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February, 2012, Page 137
Photos by David Moore
Don’t be fooled by the unlucky-sounding name and moody décor – appealing, inexpensive food and a friendly atmosphere are this north Phoenix eatery’s winning combo.
Neighborhood nosh spot Thirteenorth Grille exudes a welcoming, hunker-down vibe for fans of no-frills food – something a variety of folks can apparently get behind. Cooing couples, families, groups of friends, lunching ladies, working guys grabbing a bite – and one night, a high school wrestling team celebrating a win – all frequent this genuinely inclusive neighborhood restaurant to enjoy the straightforward, well-priced food. The only thing off-message is the ambiance. The moody, gray-and-black color scheme and dim lighting – fancy-schmancy leftovers from Marcellino’s, the former tenants – in no way reflects the eatery’s approachable, sunny personality.
Chase and Debi Herrick, who also operate nearby Stumpy’s Pizza and Subs, are hands-on owners with a genial and accommodating staff. Daily specials augment the served-all-day menu, which plays on the greatest hits of the ’90s. Appetizers shine: Chicken wings ($8) are plump, juicy, crisp-skinned, perfectly seasoned and served with robust Roquefort dip. Sturdy, crackly house-made potato chips pair wonderfully with rich crab dip ($7), and crab cakes ($11) seem to be all-meat held together by a prayer.
The burger ($10) is one of the best in town, crafted from excellent quality meat and topped with a creamy meld of blue cheese and brie with caramelized onions and crisp veggies. No complaints on a chubby French dip sandwich ($10) that’s also gussied up with those sweet onions.
Entrées come with soup (don’t miss the buttery, bacon-kissed clam chowder) or a standard house salad and sides including nicely executed garlic mashed potatoes. Other salads need work. Sliced pear, goat cheese and candied walnuts get lost in a sea of dull greens ($10), and the Caesar ($5 or $8) is sadly wan. Main dishes are basic but well-executed, including a flavorful 7-ounce filet mignon ($23), a tender half rack of ribs special ($15) bathed in a sweet-smoky sauce, and succulent walleye pike ($18). Mac and cheese ($13) is elevated by a complex, savory sauce, but the addition of smoky bacon would finish the job.
The wine selection is diminutive but decent, and there are always specials by the bottle and glass. On the 13th of each month, Thirteenorth offers a Lucky 13 promotion, featuring $13 chef special entrées and a second beer, well drink, glass or bottle of wine for 13 cents. One more reason the neighborhood’s lucky number has become thirteen.
inside Thirteenorth Grille
: 1301 E. Northern Ave., Phoenix
: 602-795-1397 •
: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
: Chicken wings ($8), crab cakes ($11), seared ahi ($12), calamari ($9), burger ($10), French dip ($10), filet mignon ($23), mac and cheese ($13), walleyed pike ($18).
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