O.H.S.O. Eatery + Nanobrewery

Written by Geri Koeppel Category: Food Reviews Issue: August 2012

Opened last November in Arcadia, O.H.S.O. is one of those rare restaurants that has it totally in gear, with all the elements working in tandem, from the endearing cruiser bike theme (love it!) to the irresistible open-air bar with 36 taps dispensing high-grade microbrews, including 18 from Arizona. The outdoor dining is superb, too, including tables in front by the parking lot and a fun, spacious back patio – open weekends only until the weather cools – with booths, a three-sided bar and impressive views of Camelback. (Both patios are dog-friendly, so leash up the Labradoodle.)

Located in the space once occupied by old-school schnitzel house Black Forest Mill, it’s unrecognizable from its erstwhile stodgy self. The front bar’s outdoor community table is perfectly calibrated for after-work stops. The back patio is ideal for weekend nights and Sunday beer brunch, when an entrée and a beer or mimosa costs $10. The vibe is enhanced by laid-back servers sporting abundant expertise and zero attitude. The food and drink menus are expansive, and almost everything is done well.

O.H.S.O. salad

As of press time, O.H.S.O. was using the facilities at Grand Canyon Brewing in Williams to brew its beer but planned to have equipment on site by June. In addition to their proprietary creations, they pour a top-notch selection of suds from local mainstays like Four Peaks, SanTan Brewing and Phoenix Ale, as well as respected microbreweries from mostly American locales. (There’s only one bottled beer, and it’s gluten-free.) Bonus: The beer list outlines flavor profiles like “creamy, sweet, toffee flavors,” so ale lovers can order based on taste, not marketing hype. And while many brew-centric restaurants dismiss other libations, whoever chose O.H.S.O.’s wines is no slouch, and the handcrafted cocktails (like the thyme-infused Moscow Mule with house-made ginger juice) deserve a toast.

The O.H.S.O. green chile dip ($9) – a tangy, creamy, can’t-stop-eating-it blend of white beans, fiery chiles, Boursin and green cheese, served with yucca chips and soft, warm pita triangles – was one of my favorite dishes of the year so far. For a light meal, share the Brewer’s Plate ($18), a mélange of two meats, two cheeses, nuts, pickles, a homemade fruit roll-up, bread, crackers and too-sticky caramel corn – the waiter joked he didn’t eat it for fear of pulling out a filling.

Salads are hearty, with the O.H.S.O. salad ($12) stealing the show thanks to super-sweet, plump shrimp (it can also come with skirt steak or chicken) on a bed of Romaine loaded with tomato, green onions, sweet peppers, grape halves, cotija cheese and citrus vinaigrette, all atop a heap o’ guacamole.

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Photos - Clock-wise from top left: Pisa flatbread pizza; applewood-smoked ribs; 
O.H.S.O. back patio; Brisket sandwich

A small plates menu runs the gamut from tacos to ribs to pasta, and they’re all fantastic. House-made vinegar-based sauce drenches the applewood-smoked ribs ($12). Gnocchi Bolognese ($14; side order, $5) with cheesy gnocchi and a luscious, rich sauce with beef and Italian sausage is a must-try. Build-them-yourself skirt steak tacos ($12 for three) with nicely charred hunks of meat are as good as I’ve had at any official Mexican restaurant.

The gigantic sandwiches are sometimes a hot mess, but in a good way. The smoky beef brisket ($12), topped with crunchy onion straws and green chile sauce, and the spicy green chile pulled pork ($11), were fork-and-knife endeavors. The burger ($11) – on a sweet bun with gouda, applewood-smoked bacon and a sauce made with Bloody Mary mix and agave nectar – is among the best in town. Sides come with sandwiches or can be ordered à la carte ($5). Get the fries. I couldn’t stop eating these thin, light-as-air, crunchy bites of bliss. The tomato soup was spiked with too much pesto, and the green salad was fine once, but limp another time. Fries. Trust me.

Chocolate Decadence

Flatbread pizzas usually interest me as much as buttered Wonder Bread, but these stole my heart – particularly the grilled chicken pie ($13) with bacon, garlic poblano sauce and a cucumber salad sprinkled on top after it’s out of the oven. Carnivores, go for the Pisa ($13), which wasn’t greasy despite the Italian salami, pepperoni and hot Italian sausage.

For dessert, dense Chocolate Decadence ($7) with Kahlua and toffee will wow even the most diehard chocoholic. It was outstanding with the samples of stout our considerate waiter brought gratis. The butterscotch pot de crème ($7), on the other hand, had virtually no discernible butterscotch in it.

One visit, we waited nearly an hour for our food, no thanks to two big parties that came in right before. We weren’t in a hurry; we didn’t gripe. But when our bill came, the owner came over to apologize and tell us he’d comped it. In a city where service too often isn’t taken seriously at even top-tier restaurants, that makes me want to pop a wheelie.

O.H.S.O. Eatery + Nanobrewery
Cuisine: International    
Address: 4900 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix
Phone: 602-955-0358
Website: ohsobrewery.com
Hours: 11 a.m.-12 a.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-12 a.m. Sunday
Highlights: O.H.S.O. green chile dip ($9), Brewer’s Plate ($18), O.H.S.O. salad ($12), ribs ($12), gnocchi Bolognese ($14; side order, $5), skirt steak tacos ($12 for three), brisket sandwich ($12), burger and cheese ($11), grilled chicken pie ($13), Pisa flatbread pizza ($13), Chocolate Decadence ($7)