We live in a bar-and-grill golden era. Sidle up to one of them for a sizzling meal, from Peoria to east Phoenix.
Red Mountain Bar & Grill
Opened: September 2018
You won’t see the titular summit from the patio here, but there is a commanding view of a Bed Bath & Beyond, so that’s something? If the sightlines are limited, the portions served here definitely aren’t. Start with green chile stew ($2.95) with queso fresco, hominy, onion and other goodies in a capsaicin-packed broth. Several of the sandwiches are labeled as “Spiedies,” the signature sandwich of Binghamton, New York, usually featuring cubes of marinated and grilled meat stuffed into a long roll. I went for the chicken version of the Original Spiedie ($12.95) and enjoyed the savory, herbaceous flavoring. There’s also an impressive Friday fish fry ($13.95), with big chunks of Mahi and shrimp the size of trailer hitches in a tempura batter, over rustic house-made potato chips.
Must try: A side of the sharp, non-soggy house-made slaw ($2.95).
2015 N. Power Rd., Mesa, 480-924-4877, redmountainbarandgrillaz.com
Headquarters Grill Bar Sushi
Opened: August 2016
This space used to be a pretty good sushi joint, and some of that DNA stuck around for its current incarnation as a spacious, rowdy sports bar. Well-executed sushi standards like the caterpillar roll ($10.99) are available alongside familiar fare like the minimalist but perfectly tasty classic burger ($9.99) and mild barbecue pulled pork sliders ($6.99). Tacos ($7.99 for a choice of three) are also tasty – I had the nippy cilantro lime chicken, fish with chunks of mango and, best of all, the hearty, sweet Korean barbecued beef. The signature sandwich seems to be the American Hero ($11.99), a chicken cheesesteak topped with chopped chicken fingers, mozzarella and American.
Must try: The fried Oreos ($7) turn the world’s most overrated cookie into a soft, warm delight.
16041 N. Arrowhead Fountains Center Dr., Peoria, 623-547-5577, headquartersaz.com
Lou’s Bar & Grill (pictured)
Opened: October 2018
The name suggests a gritty dive with a gruff but hardworking proprietor, but the Lou name-checked at this indoor-outdoor culinary oasis at the Papago Golf Course in question is none other than late local icon, car dealer and golf nut Lou Grubb. Moreover, the restaurant itself is breezy, modern and altogether up-market. Start with Chef B’s Sweet Potato & Green Chile Corn Chowder ($4 for a cup), a fine balancing of mellow sweetness and chile heat, or the truffle deviled eggs ($7) with a mustardy, truffle-oiled punch in the yolks and lively pickled onions and crispy mushrooms up top. The pastrami is admirably thin-cut and lean on the Reuben ($12), and there can’t be many places that serve poutine ($12) in sight of the Papago Buttes.
Must try: The Hot as “H” Dog ($10) is piled with jalapeños, pepper jack and bacon on a big, spicy weenie, and comes with chipotle mayo in case that’s too mild.
5595 E. Moreland St., 602-358-7004, lousbarandgrill.com
El Dorado Bar & Grill
Opened: September 2009
The other taverns on this tour seemed, frankly, to be slumming a little with the use of the term “bar and grill” – they’re all snazzy and ambitious enough, both in their architecture and menus, to qualify under the latter-day term “gastropubs.” But the El Dorado is a no-kidding bar and grill, complete with tough, veteran servers, weathered furnishings, live music and true pub grub, like the plain cheese crisp ($6) that started off my meal. But it all performs nicely as pub grub, including the Brackin Burger ($8.50), named after the owner and topped with a flap of roasted green chile, cheddar, onions and horseradish sauce. El Dorado does breakfast, too, until the civilized hour of 2 p.m. I enjoyed the biscuits in pungent, peppery gravy with eggs ($6.95).
Must try: The fried mushrooms ($6) are fleshy and tender, with the requisite burst of scalding juice.
8708 E. McDowell Rd., 480-945-2606, eldorado-bar-grill.com