happy hour Archives

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THE SCENE “Hidden gem” is one of the most cliché phrases in a food writer’s tattered toolkit, but in S. Maranto’s case, it is literally true. The bright little bistro, a modern spin on a classic Italian American joint, is downright difficult to find in the sprawling Scottsdale 101 shopping plaza at Mayo Boulevard and the 101 – technically in Phoenix, though it’s literal steps from Scottsdale city limits. It’s smack-dab in a sea of...

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THE SCENE When one of your work perks is trying new restaurants and menus, you quickly become the go-to gal for friends’ dining inquiries. Not a week passes that I don’t get a few imploring Facebook messages or frantic texts asking for food recommendations. “I’m in Tempe for an appointment. What’s the best place for a quick lunch?” “In-laws visiting this weekend and they hate fish and spicy food. Any recs in the North Scottsdale...

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THE SCENE In life, we often write off whole categories of experiences when they don’t jibe with our personalities. Afraid of heights? You’re probably passing on roller-coasters at every theme park you visit. Nut allergy? No pecan pie, trail mix or turtle candies for you. Hate exercising in front of strangers? Gyms aren’t your jam, and likely never will be. There’s something refreshing and clarifying about knowing yourself well enough to know what suits you...

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THE SCENE Is there a more played-out cocktail-bar trope than the “speakeasy”? I use quotation marks because so few of these purported speakeasies possess any of the qualities of their historical namesake. Even pre-COVID claustrophobia, the whole cramped, underground bar scene wasn’t my vibe. Give me an open-air space with a fresh breeze and elbow room any day – or night. Finally, a trend seems to be aligning with my selectively social soul: Rooftop bars...

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Photo by Leah LeMoine   THE SCENE While our highs are still depressingly in the 80s – so disheartening for this part of November, no? – the evenings have been getting a little cooler lately. The other night was chilly, dare I say. What better place to while away a few crisp afternoon and evening hours at a media happy hour than the famously pretty patio of Chelsea’s Kitchen? The Arcadia classic is just as charming as ever. Shade trees provide a verdant...

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Photo by Leah LeMoine   THE SCENE The “all-day café” trend that has gripped both coasts has reached Phoenix, and it’s no surprise a California transplant has led the charge. Headquartered in Venice, Zinqué (pronounced zin-kay) is a Golden State-inflected French concept where you can get coffee and pastries in the morning, lunch in the afternoon, and dinner and drinks in the evening. In the first two-thirds of the day, it offers counter service. At cocktail hour, it switches to table service, which it also offers during weekend brunch.  ...

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Photo by Leah LeMoine   THE SCENE I’d heard about Linger Longer Lounge for years, but I never knew where it was. Downtown Phoenix? Midtown? CenPho? Scottsdale? As I pulled into the parking lot for a media happy hour there a couple of weeks ago, my confusion was validated. It’s tucked into the far corner of a plaza that itself feels somewhat recessed from the intersection of 16th Street and Sierra Drive, just north of East Maryland Avenue....

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Photo by Leah LeMoine   THE SCENE To stay connected during the pandemic – and to nurture our shared love of cooking – my friend Kristy suggested a weekly FaceTime cooking date. Her proposal: We’d take turns selecting recipes to cook along with the other, virtually. A cooking club for two? I said yes without hesitation. We started Quarantine Culinarians in July 2020 and have miraculously kept it up since, with a few skipped weeks and a brief hiatus this past summer. (I promise this will lead to a happy hour write-up – just stay with...

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Tijuana Donkey (left) and Mango Mezgarita (right) | Photo by Leah LeMoine   THE SCENE Last year, during the height of the pandemic and before the vaccine was available, I became something of an expert on takeout happy hours. I re-crisped pizza and nachos in my oven after they’d wilted in transit. I poured cocktails from their secure plastic carrying containers into my own glassware to make them feel fancy again. I re-plated, photographed, blogged and Instagrammed.  One of the highlights...

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The Mix Up Bar interior | Photo by Nikki Buchanan   The Mix Up Bar, tucked away to the left of T. Cook’s at the Royal Palms Resort & Spa, is one of my favorite places to hang out over a cocktail. Like the lovely old resort in which it’s nestled, the room is gracious, intimate and — if you time it right — blessedly quiet, the kind of place where you might strike up...

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  Photo courtesy Buck &Rider   THE SCENE “I don’t eat seafood in landlocked states.” That sentence – along with its cousin, “Seafood in the desert? Pass.” – is up there on the list of trite refrains I regularly field from friends and relatives about dining in the Valley. When I hear someone say it, I have to fight a visceral urge to shake them and bellow, “Do you think we’re still in the 1950s?!” In a time before overnight shipping and advanced packing and cooling techniques, sure, you would have...

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THE SCENE Like any The Real Housewives of New York City fan worth the salt on her Skinnygirl Margarita, I have a bit of an obsession with the Hamptons. I live for Ramona’s volcanic dinner parties (and questionable design choices), Luann’s out-of-touch pizza order (“Mrs. de Lesseps… The Countess!”), Sonja’s kooky jitney bathroom rituals, Bethenny’s avoidance of guests at her own home, high-stakes brunch battles and, of course, Barbara’s clambake, complete with doggie bags full of lobsters.   Alas, I am but a desert girl in an average tax bracket, so I figured my Hamptons enjoyment would remain vicarious unless I somehow befriended a celeb –...

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THE SCENE I almost can’t believe my eyes when I walk into CHAR Pizzeria Napoletana in Peoria. There’s a sleek, clean and downright Euro feel – silvery tin tiles on the ceiling, modern black light fixtures, gleaming wood and metal chairs congregated around marble-topped tables, brown leather banquettes and booths, a contemporary wooden bench and a clean white counter.   I grew up in the West Valley and went to high school just minutes away from this pristine pizzeria at the corner of Lake Pleasant Parkway and Happy Valley Road. Let me tell...

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THE SCENE  I am a lot of things, but two things I certainly am not are a beer drinker and a vegan. I often wish I could be both! Life – especially concerts, dive bars, festivals and my alcohol budget – would be so much easier if I loved beer. While I can find merit in a porter or stout redolent of chocolate, coffee or caramel, or in a fruity light beer like Papago Orange Blossom, I’d always rather skip the brew in favor...

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plantain latkas | Photo by Leah LeMoine   THE SCENE STOP. Stop driving by restaurants and shops you’re curious about. Pull in, park and go inside. Try as many new things as you can. At worst, you’ll spend a little money and be disappointed. At least your curiosity will be satisfied, and you’ll know not to go again.   At best, you could discover a new favorite – a neighborhood haunt, a regular spot for meals with friends, a haven with your kind of people, art, vibe, food and drinks. You...

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