When I interviewed chef Jeremy Pacheco about his home fridge for our July/August issue, he perked up when we discussed his new restaurant, The Genuine. He enthused about the wood-fired oven, the locally sourced meat, the pasta and the veggies. “There will be something for everyone,” he said as we chatted across his kitchen counter. “A nice neighborhood hangout.”
So, when I got an invitation to come in for a media happy hour at the newest eatery from the Genuine Concepts folks, I jumped at the opportunity. I loved Pacheco’s food from his many years at LON’s at The Hermosa Inn, so I knew I’d be in for some delectable dishes.
Upon walking into The Genuine on a blistering June afternoon, I am also struck by its décor. There’s a chic late ’60s/early ’70s living room vibe to the lounge area behind the host stand, with low-slung cream and wood sofa seating, a round stone coffee table and funky plants in oversize white pots. A gleaming firepit – blessedly not “on” on this 100-plus-degree afternoon – separates the lounge from more low seating, this time neutral upholstered benches opposite curved-back chairs with metal legs and light blue cushions, with wooden tables betwixt and Mid-Century metallic arc lamps craning above.
Walking around the corner past a partition of Haver blocks, I see the bar area is similarly styled, with a mix of nubby natural textures and gleaming metal touches – warmth and sleekness in equal measure. My favorite detail is the tall, narrow stained-glass window panel above my table, flanked by long, retro curtains that remind me of those hanging in my Granny and Grandpa’s circa-1967 house in Tucson.
As with Campo Italian Bistro and Bar, the Genuine Concepts team kept the interior design of this space in the family: Genuine co-founder Tucker Woodbury’s wife, Trina Boyd, created this California-inspired space. Once again, I’m a fan.
Happy hour brings truly screaming deals at The Genuine. Pacheco is partial to the lamb meatballs with tzatziki, black pepper feta, cucumber salad and house-made bread ($9 for that bounty) and the tuna tartare (fresh fish with avocado, fresno chile, pickled onion, sesame oil and yuzu vinaigrette ($9).
I start with what appears to be the best value on any HH menu I’ve seen recently: the meze trio and carafe of draft wine. For $28, you can mix and match three items from the meze offerings and get two glasses of wine in the carafe. I choose marinated Crow’s Dairy goat cheese curds (a throwback to Pacheco’s snacky HH offerings at LON’s) doused with olive oil and showered with pink peppercorns; sugar and spice nuts (peanuts, cashews, walnuts and almonds coated in salt, sugar and cayenne, according to my knowledgeable, sweet and super polished server, Caleb); and punchy pickled vegetables (a rotating selection based on seasonal availability; I love the briny green beans and slivers of fennel in my batch). Other meze selections include tangerine- and chile-marinated olives and wood-oven-roasted baba ganoush with pickled eggplant and house-made pita. It’s so damn hot outside that chilled white wine sounds like heaven, so I go with the house white, a Scarpetta Sauvignon Blanc blend. It’s the perfect pairing for the bright pickled veg, tangy cheese and sweet and salty nuts.
On the heartier side, the Parmesan polenta fries hit every carb-y, cheesy craving. Creamy, Parm-laced polenta is “sheeted” out, cooled and curled into chubby cylinders that, when tossed in breadcrumbs and fried until golden brown, look like jumbo tater tots but taste like polenta paradise. They’re perfect on their own, but taste even better with dunks in the “tomato emulsion” served alongside, dolloped with pesto. The tomato sauce is rich, silky and buttery, reminiscent of chef Scott Conant’s famed pomodoro sauce. I am not someone who is wowed by tomato sauce, but this one has me scraping the bowl with my spoon long after the last polenta remnant is gone.
The margherita pizza is another tempting option, available solo ($11) or with a carafe of wine in another great combo deal ($19). But I opt for the daily featured pizza ($11), which changes with Pacheco and company’s whims and is part of the “Chef’s R+D” menu. Today, it’s a Mexican mashup of creamed corn, queso fresco, cuitlacoche (also known as huitlacoche), smoked pork, squash blossoms and cilantro. Wow! So creamy, funky, earthy and bright, all at once.
Happy hour sips include wines by the glass ($7 each: white, red and rosé) and draft beers ($5).
An impressive number of cocktails are also discounted: 10 when I visited, each $9 during HH. The ones that intrigued me were the Phoenix Sunrise (tequila, cassis, grenadine, lime juice, orange juice and sparkling water), The Monk (gin, Midori, yellow Chartreuse, honey, lemon juice, basil and Fee Foam) and Gran Papi (mezcal, Domaine de Canton, amaro, chocolate bitters, Angostura bitters).
Happy hour runs Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m.
6015 N. 16th St., Phoenix, 602-633-1187, thegenuineaz.com