The Phoenician Tavern
Opened: March 2019
Last month we dared to make some suggestions for Mother’s Day meals. This month, let’s do the same for that less venerated but still obligatory observance, Father’s Day. As with moms, of course, dads are as different as the world is wide, but we’ll start with a likely choice for the Lacoste polo-wearing Scottsdale alpha dad: this new eatery above the pro shop at The Phoenician. He can partake of the traditional favorite, a New York strip ($35), or, for a still-beefy but more intriguing option, the smoked Wagyu tri-tip “French Dip” ($16). The rich Japanese beef is complemented by a grainy, earthy mustard and a jus that’s surprisingly strong, even spicy. Beware the fish and chips ($21), however; the fries and tartar sauce are toothsome, but something in the fish (or the batter?) gave the dish a disagreeably bitter aftertaste.
Must try: The chocolate stout cake ($8) has an intense chocolatey punch, marvelously tempered by a hint of ale.
6000 E. Camelback Rd., 480-423-2451, thephoenician.com
La Perla Sports Cantina
Opened: March 2019
If Dad’s a sports guy, he might welcome a sports bar on Father’s Day. This newish one in downtown Glendale, which takes its name from the longtime Mexican joint that preceded it, is a colorful, festive neighborhood place with a small, pleasant patio. Enjoy a few drinks, watch the D-backs, just lovely. The food menu, however, which mixes south-of-the-border and gringo fare, needs a little work. La Perla Signature Cheeseburger ($12), ordered medium well, arrived decked out in chipotle aioli but charred a leathery black on the bottom. From the Mexican side, the posole ($6) combined small shards of tender, yummy pork and hominy with great big gobs of gruesome yellowish pork fat, and the odd bone, in a gleaming, greasy broth.
Must try: By far the tastiest dish I encountered at La Perla was the chilaquiles ($9), deliciously tenderized tortillas in a gently warm red sauce, with queso blanco, refried beans and scrambled eggs.
5723 W. Glendale Ave., Glendale,
Monroe’s Hot Chicken
Opened: February 2019
Alas, this Nashville-style chicken kitchen, a project concocted by the folks behind Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles, is closed on Sunday. But it’s so packed with indulgent treats that you may be able to convince Dad it’s worth his while to celebrate a day early. That way he can enjoy the dining room, which for some reason features a gallery of celebrity mug shots, while he takes on the fried chicken sandwich ($13), a preposterously large, juicy breast on brioche with slaw, stinging cayenne-based sauce and pickles. Two bucks more gets him the bird with syrup and powdered sugar on a Belgian waffle. The more comforting of the comfort-food sides include the cornbread mac and cheese ($4) and the red potato skin salad ($4). For a sweet coda, try the root beer float ($5) – basically a cup of ice cream over which you pour the organic pop from the fountain yourself.
Must try: The other dessert choice is the homemade Tennessee moon pie ($6), a messy but engaging medley of chocolate, marshmallow and cookie.
45 W. Jefferson St., 602-872-7100, monroeshotchicken.com
Word of Mouth Grill
Opened: January 2019
Dads of all stripes are often barbecue enthusiasts, thus yours might relish the goodies at this spare but polished new Tempe spot, helmed by catering veterans Demetrious Makel and his wife, Jacque. The menu is standard carnivore temptation, the execution is formidable. The brisket sandwich ($10), bathed in any of several sauces at several levels of potency, makes a scrumptious introduction. The hot links ($10) have a slow-to-anger kick, while the chili ($5) offers the best of both worlds, with brisket and hot links sharing the bowl. Jacque’s deft culinary touch is most evident with the sides – the potato salad, for instance, studded with sprightly peas, carrots and other veggies, reflects her Argentine background. And the baked beans, in a deep brown sweet sauce with ground meat, are as yummy as you’re likely to find.
Must try: If Dad has a sweet tooth – or if you do – don’t miss Word of Mouth’s only dessert option, the lovingly constructed, sweet-but-not-too-sweet apple tart ($5).
7660 S. McClintock Dr., Tempe, 480-621-6247