First Dish: Society by EVO

Kristy DurkinOctober 13, 2022
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Photo by Kristy Durkin

From EVO owner Nick Neuman and his partners Lee Baron, Randy Feldman and Dominic Scappaticci comes a chic, floral fantasy in the heart of Tempe. I have been wondering for years if EVO in Old Town Scottsdale would ever expand and open another location, and when I received an invitation to try Society by EVO, I happily accepted. Located in the Cornerstone Plaza strip mall near Arizona State University’s Tempe campus, to say the space has completely transformed from its former iteration as GuacStar Kitchen & Cantina is an understatement. What sets this place apart is the décor. As soon as you ascend the stairs to the unique second story location, you open the door to a restaurant oasis. The entire space is aglow with faux flowers blooming from every direction, making the atmosphere feel like a fairytale. Vines romantically drooping down from the ceiling, a candlelit shrub wall and even a trail of roses leading to the bathroom allow for perfect Instagram moments, so get those phones aimed and ready.

The clientele on the evening of my visit was a nice mix of ASU students, couples on dates and a Baby Boomer’s birthday dinner. The focal point and life-force of the room is the buzzy, 36-seat rose quartz bar. We were led to a quieter front dining area lined with tables, sparkling chandeliers and vast front-facing windows.

Photo by Kristy Durkin

I wanted to start with one of Society by EVO’s signature cocktails and settled on Not a Classic, a dazzling gin-based beverage served in a coup glass. It was very fruit-forward – the raspberry notes overpowered the Fid Street gin and egg white bitters. I then switched to the nice wine selection for my next drink.

The menu is straightforward and surprisingly very reasonable with options that would satisfy just about any diner. The appetizers are refreshing for someone who gets frustrated seeing the same five usual suspects haunting the starters section. I was especially intrigued by the Diablo Tips and Bacon-Wrapped Dates. The tips – a small cast iron pan of beef tenderloin swimming in a tangy sauce atop garlic whipped potatoes – were delightful. It was clearly the favorite at the table as we all spooned for the last bite. The dates were also a nice shared plate, stuffed with creamy goat cheese and drizzled with balsamic for that precise sweet and savory combination. For an entrée, I chose the Penne Alla Vodka. Made with fresh tomato sauce that strikes the perfect balance between light and heavy, it had an enjoyable margherita pizza flavor vibe.

Photo by Kristy Durkin

Satisfied with my meal, I kept thinking about how Society by EVO is solving a problem I’ve long encountered. If you’re not a Tempe resident, this is the ideal spot to stop after a show. Whether that be comedy at the Improv or a musical at Gammage, the kitchen is open until 1:30 a.m. – yes, you read that right – making it the perfect place for those post-performance munchies. I might even schedule my next tickets around Ladies Night on Tuesdays, with 20 percent off drinks, shot discounts and some great food specials. I suggest following Society by EVO’s Instagram, not only for those alluring décor and food reels but to keep tabs on all the weekly specials, ‘cause in these times we all could use a great deal at a great spot.

920 E. University Dr., Tempe, 480-550-7801,