As a pretty patient introvert, I’m much more likely to get JOMO (joy of missing out) than FOMO (fear of missing out). I get excited about new restaurants – and in “normal times” I am grateful to visit them during media previews – but I’m not someone who has to be among the first to try a place. I’m OK with waiting until the buzz abates, because crowds and lines made me itchy even before COVID-19.
My chill approach has held throughout the pandemic, even as media events have resumed and my friends, colleagues and acquaintances have attended them. I’m still staying home until vaccination is widespread, and my desire for safety trumps any hankering to try a new hot spot.
Having said all that, I have had one instance of pandemic FOMO: when Lylo Swim Club at ARRIVE Phoenix opened last year and the local foodie-rati deluged Instagram with posts of colorful cocktails and munchies. I’m a huge fan of Ross Simon (Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour, Little Rituals), so I knew the drinks would be aces. And I was curious about the pan-Asian-inspired food menu crafted by Alex Resnick, director of restaurants for ARRIVE. Because Lylo is literally a poolside bar and so much of its appeal is related to its chic setting, I didn’t think takeout was an option. I resigned myself to visiting in late 2021 (or even 2022, depending on how this vaccine rollout goes, sigh). Imagine my joy when I received an email offering a media happy hour spread – as takeout. Sometimes good things do, indeed, come to those who wait.
No bland bar food here – Resnick’s new happy hour menu zips and zaps with bursts of citrus, spice and sweetness. The togarashi fries ($6) are loaded with crispy garlic (perhaps my favorite ingredient of all time), bright lemon mayo, slices of jalapeño, wisps of cilantro and slivers of green onion. And togarashi, of course – the Japanese spice blend that typically contains seaweed, ginger, sesame seeds, citrus zest and powdered chiles. There are so many flavors dancing around at once, and it makes you want to keep eating.
The spicy tuna and crispy rice cakes ($10) also provide a flavor punch of deep umami, subtle brininess and balancing sweetness. The glutinous rice cakes are moist and chewy inside and satisfyingly crisp outside, the perfect foundations for a pâté-like tuna mixture, lightly sweet sauce and fresh green onions. I wish everything I ate could be served atop those rice cakes.
If you’re longing for a Hawaiian vacation, you can get at least halfway there in your mind with Lylo’s musubi, the pressed sushi beloved throughout The Aloha State. Here it is available in Spam and veggie versions ($5 each) or stuffed with shrimp tempura ($6 on the regular menu, not for happy hour). So yummy and nostalgic.
During happy hour, all beers and well spirits are $1 off, and a glass of Prosecco costs $6. But when I visit Lylo in person someday, I’m beelining for the cocktails. The market Caipirinha, margarita and mojito are all just $6.50 – an absolute steal for drinks made with such fresh ingredients. You can also personalize said drinks with the addition of flavors including strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, peach, mango, passionfruit or pineapple. Simon’s other cocktail concoctions – the fruity, mezcal-laced Lazy Daze, the boozy Dole Whipped, the vacation-y Opposable Rums – all sound so delightful I’m sure they’re worth paying full price for to enjoy with your budget bites. I have a designated driver ready for when I can finally taste all three in a brighter, more-vaccinated future. Until then, I’m lying low at home – with more Lylo takeout.
Happy hour runs Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m.