Photo courtesy The Golden Pineapple Craft Lounge
Sure, you know Craft 64 is going to bring the beer. It’s their raison d’etre. Same with Arizona Wilderness, Pedal Haus and other gleaming temples of brew-craft that happen to also serve food. But finding a top-shelf beer list is a bit trickier when you limit the conversation to traditional restaurants. Here are seven that have ascended to elite status on the stealth.
Philadelphia Sandwich Company
Lots of fruited sours, lots of hearty, high-gravity IPAs at this Old Town sandwich shop, which specializes in gooey cheesesteaks and high-piled hogies alongside its bitchin’ beer list. The restaurant has 11 taps and 136 canned varieties.
Sample flight: Hubbard’s Cave (Niles, IL) Rocky Road/Imperial Pastry Stout; Equilibrium Brewery (Middletown, NY) Data Points/Imperial IPA
7318 E Stetson Dr., Scottsdale, 480-970-1102, philadelphiasandwichcompany.com
Moto Asian Restaurant
At his north-central izakaya, owner and head beer wonk Vince Heppler programs his 18 taps with the keen, surgical care of a sushi chef carving a filet of toro. A robust selection of Imperials is always in the offing, along with hard-to-source brews like King Sue Double IPA from Toppling Goliath Brewing Co. in Decorah, IA, a much-hyped hazy which caused quite a stir in the Valley beer-geek community when it dropped in Arizona this spring. There’s also a 30-odd-strong can and bottle list, making Moto by far the most brew-centric sushi restaurant in the Valley.
Sample flight: Beer Research Institute (Mesa, AZ) Top Secret Battle Monkey/Imperial IPA; The Rare Barrel (Berkeley, CA) Pinkish/Fruited Sour
6845 N. 16th St., Phoenix, 602-263-5444, mrmotorising.com
Vecina Latin Restaurant
As a high-end, Latin-influenced bistro, this 2019 PHOENIX magazine Best New Restaurant nominee is the type of place that screams “$12 cocktails” and “tasteful wine list.” But “kick-ass beer program?” Not necessarily. And yet, there it is: eight creatively programmed taps (mostly Arizona brews, including a reliable smattering of Tombstone Brewing IPAs) and around 40 bottles and cans.
Sample flight: Tombstone Brewing Company (Tombstone AZ) Another Exercise In Mediocrity/Imperial IPA; Modern Times (San Diego CA) Fruitlands Sour/Fruited Gose
3433 N. 56th St., Phoenix, 602-675-2000, vecinaphx.com
Admittedly, this one isn’t so surprising. It’s a German restaurant, after all, and plainly announces itself as a “beer garden nestled in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale.” Still, when owner Dave Andrea opened the restaurant in 2012, he exceeded expectations with his tidy but expertly curated, Euro-forward tap program, which is still the best place in the Valley to score interesting German and Belgian styles while noshing on a bougie bratwurst with sauerkraut and sweet onion jam.
Sample flight: Abt 12 from St. Bernadus; Reissdorf Kolsch
3622 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 480-947-4006, brathausaz.com
In a feat of cross-cultural fusion every bit as exciting as tikka masala itself – invented in Britain, don’cha know? – this fast-casual Indian restaurant in North Phoenix offers 12 self-serve craft beer handles. So pair that creamy palak paneer with a San Tan Hefe, or subdue the mouth-fire of your lamb biryani with a crisp, hoppy Dragoon IPA. Like other chile-centric cuisines, Indian food often pairs better with beer than it does with wine.
Sample flight: SanTan Brewing (Chandler AZ) Hefewiezen; Huss Brewing (Phoenix AZ) Papago Orange Blossom/Fruited Wheat
21001 N. Tatum Blvd., Phoenix, 602-354-8800, tikkashack.com
The Golden Pineapple Craft Lounge
Is this new Tempe hot spot a bar with a terrific food menu, or a food joint with a primo beer list? For the purposes of this article, we’ll lean toward the latter – though as much as we enjoyed the old-school Grandma’s Tacos (ground beef, hard shells) and mole-dry-rub fried chicken sandwich on Noble Bread, it’s the baroque draft list that stands out: 16 rotating taps with a dangerous predilection for Imperial stouts and California small-volume IPAs.
Sample flight: Bottle Logic Brewing (Anaheim, CA) Distant Messenger/Double White Stout (13% ABV); Burgeon Beer Company (Carlsbad, CA) Mixed Greens/Double IPA
2700 S. Mill Ave., Tempe, 480-590-5703, thegoldenpineappleaz.com
Based on the décor and, well, the name of the place, one imagines Mellow Mushroom founder Jay Beskind had an affinity for a certain psychoactive weed when he launched the Atlanta-based pizza chain in 1974. But he clearly loves his beer, too. The Valley’s five locations each run roughly three dozen taps featuring a mix of local and elite out-of-state craft offerings.
Sample flight: Clown Shoes (Boston MA) The Exercising of Baxter/Imperial Stout; North Coast Brewing Company (Fort Bragg CA) Pranqster/Strong Golden Ale
Multiple locations, mellowmushroom.com