Photo by Leah LeMoine
This week, I returned to the office for my first full workday there in a long time (nearly all pandemic, though I did come in for a few days here and there). It was nice to see my colleagues, to be in their presence and to share my baking experiments with them again (my pampushki, aka Ukrainian buttermilk rolls, were a hit).
It was also nice to revisit the part of town our office is in – the fringes of Arcadia, close to Old Town Scottsdale and not far from south Scottsdale. I have loved working from home and am grateful our company is allowing us more flexibility with our workweeks, with one or two days in the office each week. But it is great to return to an area of the Valley I’ve neglected over the past year and a half – especially for its abundant dining options.
Along that line of thought, I figured I should start working my way through the happy hours near our office I’ve missed over the years. My first destination: The Porch, a “neighborhood joint” with locations in Arcadia, Tempe and Gilbert. I’d been there for lunch with a PR friend once, years ago, and fondly remember the couscous and veggie bowl with super tasty basil Greek yogurt I’d ordered. Why not try the happy hour?
I got there shortly after HH started (3 p.m.) and had the spacious patio – complete with wooden high-top and picnic tables and The Porch’s signature oversize Adirondack chair – to myself for a while before other people started trickling in. It was a lovely, overcast day, and ’80s and ’90s hip-hop and R&B played on the sound system. I settled in for a chill solo drink and snack, armed with my book and dark sunglasses for people-watching. And dog-watching! A three-month-old pit bull baby sidled onto the dog-friendly patio for a drink with her mama, and a cooing server set down a bowl of cold water for her.
Photo by Leah LeMoine
Because it was just me – and because I’m going out of town this weekend and wanted to minimize leftovers languishing in my fridge – I ordered “light.”
The Big Pretzel ($9) is so big it’s served on a cafeteria-style tray instead of a dinner plate, which it would surely overhang. I was surprised by how plush and soft the twisted dough was – no hard, rubbery exterior, no jaw-tiring chewy innards. It tasted almost like a pillowy dinner roll, but with pretzel vibes and a lightly bronzed, generously salted coat. It came with a side of tangy yellow mustard (not my favorite, though I know it’s the classic pretzel pairing for many) and a creamy, cheesy, slightly spiced queso, made in-house. So good. I also appreciated the dusting of finely chopped chives on the pretzel and in the queso. They freshened the whole lot up with their verdant allium bite.
And then there were the chicken wings ($14) – a dozen boneless or bone-in wings sided with freshly cut veggies and ranch or blue cheese. “What does ‘golden barbecue’ mean?” I asked my server as I surveyed my sauce options. “It’s just a little lighter than regular barbecue sauce,” she replied. Sold. They were sweet and tangy, but not too much of either of those things, and they were coated in a pleasantly sticky, burnt orange sauce that was literally lighter than most brick-red barbecue sauces. I ate all the drums and took the flats home for my fella.
Other happy hour dishes include chicken tinga nachos ($12), green chile pork tacos ($9), fried pickle spears ($8), a burger ($12) and the Mason chopped salad, a ringer for Citizen Public House and The Gladly chef Bernie Kantak’s famed Stetson chopped salad. Oh, and the chip app ($9), which comes with house guacamole and roasted tomato salsa. I split that with my friend over that lunch so long ago, and I can vouch for its deliciousness.
Photo by Leah LeMoine
Happy hour drink deals definitely favor beer drinkers: Draft beers including Bud Light and Coors Light are $5 each. Imports and craftier beers are $6-$7. House wines Chardonnay and Cabernet are $7 each. Two cocktails are discounted during happy hour: Big Trouble in Little Shanghai ($10) and Jungle Juice ($9). The former has Red Bull in it, which is a red flag for my palate. The Jungle Juice was sweet and fruity and took me back to my college days, when I drank it in volume. I wish the paloma or the signature Frozen Porch-arita were on the happy hour menu – they’re much more my speed in adulthood. I might spring for them, full price be damned, next time.
Happy hour runs Monday–Friday from 3-6:15 p.m. The 15 minutes past 6 p.m. are key, according to The Porch menu: “Because we last 15 minutes longer than the rest.” Honestly, that is a draw for anyone who has ever rushed to a restaurant only to make it for 30-45 minutes of its happy hour. Any extra bit helps. Dine-in only.
The Porch’s Date Night Package To Go includes one appetizer, two entrées, two fountain drinks and an order of churro-style doughnut holes for $40. Not a bad way to spend an evening in.