There’s a very “young Scottsdale” vibe at Hand Cut Burgers & Chophouse at Scottsdale Waterfront. The décor is polished, but energetic – shiny wood floors and tables, white subway tiles, bright yellow high-top stools perched on squares of faux grass, a green wall festooned with golden cow heads, a white tile bar with cushy black leather stools. It’s fun and eye-popping, with splashes of emerald and daffodil everywhere. The staff and clientele are young, dressed cute and buzzing about.
I’ve been here once before for a media preview of Arizona Restaurant Week, but it was a progressive meal, so I only tried one dish. I sweep in at 4 p.m. on a Tuesday and settle into a barstool that is actually comfortable. Can more restaurants select barstools with backs, please?
I’m here for a media preview of Hand Cut’s new happy hour menu, which launches November 1 (today!). It looks great – snacky and fun, everything priced under $10. My PR friend and I start with the salt and vinegar fries ($3 for an insanely generous portion), which I’m happy to report has a nice balance of its extreme elements, not too salty or too vinegary, just right. (I can see my salt and vinegar chip-loving partner wanting more vinegar, so keep that in mind if you’re a sour head.) A light dusting of dill and a ramekin of ranch add to the yum. We also try the tempura zucchini fries ($6), thick and substantial and paired with a zippy togarashi ranch; and the Beets & Burrata ($9), which employs tender golden beets in place of the usual roasted purple ones in a beet salad. Arugula provides peppery balance for the sweet beets and creamy burrata, both drizzled with tart-sweet hibiscus honey.
My favorite noshes are the bacon mac and cheese ($9) and the happy hour wings ($6). The mac used to be on the dinner menu and, when management removed it, there was an outcry among regulars. Hand Cut is bringing it back as a happy hour exclusive, so if you want a creamy mac studded with bits of soft bacon, head here for HH. And the wings – my goodness, the wings. They’re brined in apple cider vinegar, grilled and then finished in the fryer for crunch before being doused in a sweet, tangy, garlicky sauce and draped with pickled carrots and herbs. I like that the happy hour portion is reasonable, but I could probably eat an entire plate of these on my own, they’re so good.
Coors Light on draft is your cheapest bet ($3; for $10 you can get said beer and a burger), and glasses of wine (a white, a rosé and a red) are not much more expensive at $5 each. Three traditional cocktails – Aperol spritz, vodka martini and Old-Fashioned – are $7 each.
For $8, you can try one of Hand Cut’s specialty cocktails developed by beverage director Matt Thompson: blackberry mojito, peach ambrosia and the Scottsdale Sunset. I opt for the latter, a beautifully layered drink with Bombay Sapphire gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, egg white and bitters, with a Cabernet float. I love wine and love when mixologists use it in cocktails, so I’m in heaven. The egg white gives it a satisfying, lush mouthfeel as well (yes, I say mouthfeel).
THE INSIDER SECRET
Almost all of this has been an insider secret, because this happy hour menu launches today! Also: Hand Cut may have the sneakiest steak special in the Valley: “Half Cut Tuesdays.” Every Tuesday, starting at 6 p.m., you get half off select cuts (usually there’s an option of two steaks, a fish dish and a chicken or vegetarian dish) and select bottles of wine. The cut offerings change monthly, but in October, for example, you could get a 14-ounce grilled ribeye (usually $40) and bottle of Trivento Cabernet Sauvignon (usually $44) for $42. A half-price steakhouse meal? My Texas-born, steak-worshiping beloved and I will be back to take advantage of this deal.
Happy hour runs Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m.