Category Archives: nightlife

What hypes up when the sun goes down

5th and Wine

I just recently discovered this little gem of a restaurant/wine lounge in Old Town Scottsdale. As luck would have it, a friend decided that this was the perfect spot for her birthday celebration. Since I’m not one to pass up a celebration or the chance to try a new restaurant, I grabbed my husband and we headed out to Old Town.

This is such a cool spot! The atmosphere inside just begs you to sit down, relax and enjoy the company of good friends, good food and good wine. The walls are adorned with the artwork of renowned animal artist Ron Burns. As an animal lover, I was excited to see his whimsical prints. For me, it just added a little something extra. They also have a great outdoor area that I plan to check out once we ease into our version of winter.

 I was just as pleased with the food and wine as I was with the cozy atmosphere. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m not a terribly picky wine drinker but I really enjoyed the Pino Grigio I tried (for the life of me, I don’t recall the name). They have lots of food choices on the menu for sharing. We opted for the Crispy Calamari (with a delightful chile basil dipping sauce, but not too hot) and the “Choose 2” Bruschetta. We went for the Tomato, Mozzarella, Basil, Balsamic Reduction and Hummus, Chive, Saffron Oil – both were yummy.

If you’re in the mood for some delicious eats, good drinks and a comfortable, laid back atmosphere, give this place a try.

7051 E. 5th Ave., Scottsdale
www.5thandwine.com

Local Fave: Devil’s Martini

Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe are known for their nightlife, and make no mistake, there are bars and dance clubs abounding. But just like anywhere else, there are a few hot spots that stick out above the rest. For us Phoenicians, it’s Devil’s Martini in Scottsdale. Now there are two locations – one in Old Town – and “Devil’s north” on Scottsdale Rd & Shea, and now Devil’s Martini has been voted by our blog readers as the Best Nightlife Spot.

At either location, you can expect to find a perfect combination of bar, lounge and dance club, all with a very open, airy, Hamptons-y feel to it. The DJs are always the top crop in town, and the dance floor is pretty packed starting at about 10:30, although there’s always room for one more person, somehow.

Devil's Martini

The drinks are always flowing, too. Unlike other bars that demand long wait times for a drink, both Devil’s locations have multiple bars so you can squeeze in and get your beverage of choice. The multi-bar floor plan also serves to accommodate the non-dancing (read: most men) crowd. Yes, the dance floor is hoppin’ but there is plenty of seating for those who just don’t have the moves. That’s actually one reason it has become so popular – there’s a spot for everyone.

There’s also a spot in line for you, too. That’s right – the popular places come at a bit of a price. Typically at 11pm or after, you’re gonna have to wait a little to get in. It might be 10 minutes, it might be 30, but it’s always worth it.

Devil’s Martini (original location)
4175 North Goldwater Boulevard
Scottsdale, AZ‎
www.devilsmartini.com

Megan Finnerty’s Dream Night

On a night not so long ago, we had a blazing fun time shooting Megan Finnerty’s Dream Night. You might know her as @122degrees on Twitter, but she’s better known as the nightlife editor at The Arizona Republic and one of Phoenix’s best gals for going out.

For these videos, we really do let our hosts pick their favorite places, and Megan’s list was so much fun. I could go on, but I’ll let you watch for yourself.

UPDATE: check out the behind the scenes photos on our Flickr page: http://bit.ly/ai8UnC

Majerle’s

Majerle's sports bar in downtown Phoenix

Majerle’s has been a staple of downtown Phoenix for years, particularly on game nights for the Arizona Diamondbacks or Phoenix Suns. Both teams play just around the corner from this sports bar hub, and with the brick walls, numerous television screens and renowned wings, it fits the bill for the quintessential pre-game or post-game festivities.

When Majerle’s opened in 1992, all of the Phoenix area was infatuated with Dan Majerle’s success on the court for the Suns, he was the good, clean guy – almost like Opie. Everyone loved Dan Majerle, so why wouldn’t you love his new place? The food was (and is) great, atmosphere fun (complete with the “Back Room” for extra space, packed when the Suns are on a roll), and it was just what Phoenix needed.

Inside Majerle's Sports Bar

Now 18 years later, it’s still full of suits for lunch and happy hour, fans for dinner and drinks. Just like any other hometown staple, they have a specialty. Burgers. Their burgers are huge, juicy, not too greasy, and all-around hit the spot. Their wings are also amazing, and many of the locals will tell you to go for the chili pepper garlic over the regular buffalo style.

Stop in when you’re in downtown, and if it’s a game night, you just might see some players there for a cool down.

Majerle’s
24 North 2nd Street
Phoenix, AZ‎
(602) 253-9004‎

Fiesta Bowl Events

Ah, the TCU Horned Frogs versus the Boise State Broncos. Their impressive undefeated seasons have led them to each other in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, and it’s sure to be a great rematch of the Poinsettia Bowl last year, where TCU beat the Broncos 17-16. This year’s game is on January 4, but there are events starting on Dec. 31. (And in case you can’t make it to the game, watch it on Fox at 6 p.m. MST.)

The tickets to the big game are sold out, but here are the best events leading up to the big game:

Fiesta Bowl Block Party
Tempe has the biggest NYE bash, all on Tempe Town Lake and through the streets around Mill Avenue. The Doobie Brothers are headlining this year’s events, but the full lineup starts playing at 5pm. There are also stages throughout the area with all sorts of entertainment. The parking is better the early you go, of course, so if you’re going to go, get there early.

Mill Avenue District – Tempe, AZ
Thursday, December 31, 2009
5:00 p.m. – 12:30 a.m.

Tickets: Discount Tickets at Fry’s Food Stores – $15.00 (and buy three discount tickets and you will receive a fourth ticket for FREE. General Admission & Gate Tickets – $20.00

See more details.

21st Annual Insight Bowl

Minnesota and Iowa State will play to win the 21st Annual Insight Bowl on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31 at 6 p.m. EST.  It’s the perfect warm-up to the Fiesta Bowl, and will be broadcast on NFL Network in case you can’t make it to the game. If you go, stick around afterwards on the streets of Tempe for the Fiesta Bowl Block Party.

See more details.

39th Annual Fort McDowell Fiesta Bowl Parade


11:00 a.m.,  Saturday, January 2

The Fort McDowell Fiesta Bowl Parade is one of the most anticipated events by Phoenix locals and the visiting fans. Tons of bands, vibrant floats, huge helium balloons,  equestrian units and all the makings of an amazing parade.  Spectators line the two-mile parade route in central Phoenix to see the parade, so get there early to get a good parking (and standing) spot, but it’s worth it.

See more details and a parade map.

College Football’s Biggest Party

Noon, Monday, January 4, Glendale Youth Sports Complex

Thousands of fans tailgate together for the “ultimate tailgating experience.” It’s like a huge pep-rally, with bands, cheer squads, games, and food booths.

See more details.

32nd Annual Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona Fiesta Bowl National Band Championship

Preliminaries
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Location: University of Phoenix Stadium
City: Glendale, AZ
Date: Friday, January 1, 2010

Finals
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: University of Phoenix Stadium
City: Glendale, AZ
Date: Friday, January 1, 2010

One of the longest Fiesta Bowl traditions, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona Fiesta Bowl National Band Championship presented by University of Phoenix, is one of the most prestigious high school marching band competitions in the USA. The country’s best bands each give a 10-minute show, for the judges as well as the crowd.   The top bands from the preliminary competition are invited to compete for the coveted Grand Master’s Trophy in the event finals.

See more details and which bands are competing.


25 Degrees

It’s like a bourgeois burger bar.

When CityNorth opened about a year ago in north Phoenix, it had upscale shopping, hip cutting-edge people moving into the loft spaces, and the anticipation of larger shops. But the most exciting things were all the new restaurants. One of the most exciting was 25 Degrees, an ultra-glam-vintage-modern burger bistro that mixes gourmet techniques into the best comfort food around.

They have four burgers that they’ve crafted brilliantly, ranging from their “number one” (caramelized onion, gorgonzola, crescenza, bacon), to the “number three” (mezzo secco jack, green chili, chipotle, avocado), and their “number four” with yellowfin tuna has sent people swooning.

But those daring to create their own are rewarded with the best-of-the-best choices in meat (sirloin, turkey, veggie), and their cheese selection is more extensive than most wine bars, and is from all over the world. Paired with one of their 14 homemade sauces,  you really can’t go wrong.

I will mandate you to get their onion rings, though, which are hand battered and dipped and yes, there is a difference. My main problem when I go is deciding burger or non-burger, since their grilled three cheese sandwich or their fried egg sandwich really rocks my world.

For the beverages, a man from Chicago said it was the best Guinness milkshake he’s ever had anywhere. I was too glued to my chocolate malt to pull myself away. Another option is their PBR on-tap, a patron’s favorite.

All-in-all, it’s a must-go.  (And a must-stuff-your-face.)

25 Degrees

5415 E High Street, #127
Phoenix, AZ 85054
(480) 502-1125

Eddie’s House

Eddie’s House.

If it weren’t situated on the corner of Indian School and Goldwater in Scottsdale, you may think it was his actual home. A nice one, at that. Framed family photos clustered on a console table, the coffee table books stacked near the leather couches, the artwork of his children look like Eddie moved them from his actual home (I didn’t see a Murphy bed on the wall) to his restaurant. The comfort, elegant style, sophistication and warmth that you would imagine in dream home shows off the great taste of Eddie,  in more than one way.

Inside Eddie's House

Inside Eddie's House

Eddie is known around town as a signture chef, with his initial restaurant, Matney’s.  Eddie’s House is a perfect blend of the dishes he’s known for (meatloaf, “What’s in this Steak,” amazing seafood creations) and some new goodies like his pot roast with sweet potato gnocchi and chorizo bolognese. No matter the dish, the best part is the very open kitchen, and you can hear Eddie’s recognizeable voice direct his team on each creation. And when I say open – I mean, you can sit at the counter of the kitchen if you’d like (and I like).

The famous "What's in this?" Steak

The famous "What's in this?" Steak

The bar, I must say, rises to the occassion for Eddie’s House. A little more swanky than the restaurant, still effortlessly comfortable, it’s a hoppin’ place for happy hour and after-dinner drinks. I’ve found myself stopping off at Eddie’s for a drink and strolling around Old Town Scottsdale’s galleries (sitting right outside of Eddie’s doors) numerous times, and would recommend such a plan to anyone.

Hoppin' Happy Hour at Eddie's

Hoppin' Happy Hour at Eddie's

Between the renowned food, comfortable atmosphere, and welcoming energy, you’ll want to call Eddie’s House, well, “home.”

Eddie’s House

7042 E Indian School Road

Scottsdale, AZ

480-946-1622

www.eddiematneys.com

Durant’s

IMG_8328IMG_8073

Every time I walk into Durant’s, I think of the opening line of John Steinbeck’s novel Cannery Row, which goes like this: “Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.”

Durant’s, of course, is not in Monterey — it’s on Central Avenue in Phoenix, and has been since 1950. And unless freshly sliced prime rib or clinking cocktail glasses offends your sensibilities, it certainly does not stink or grate the ears. But, on a purely sensory level, there is something literary about the place.

Durant’s is an old hardback novel. Durant’s is a car with fins. Durant’s is your grandfather’s cologne. Durant’s is a place where the walls retain the memory of cigarette smoke and lies, and the tablecloths are as stiff and white as papal robes. Durant’s patrons are movers and shakers, regulars and lifers. Even first-timers to Durant’s seem to have an eye for history and a story to tell.

Put simply: Durant’s is the Cannery Row of Phoenix dining.

IMG_8048The namesake of Durant’s is Jack Durant. In Phoenix’s pantheon of colorful characters, he falls in right behind Jack Swilling and Jacob Waltz and Barry Goldwater. Google him. You’ll learn he was a gambler, a gangster, a drinker, a grandpa with a gold heart. You’ll read that he loved his dogs more than his wives, that his taste in décor was influenced by bordellos, that one of Phoenix’s most notorious murders was planned in his bar.

Jack Durant died in 1987, and I don’t know the real man from the legend. (Though I’m pretty sure he would detest the idea of being Googled.) I do know, however, what Jack Durant left behind: a classic American steakhouse.

This is old news for the beef-eating lawyers and lobbyists who convene at Durant’s for lunch and happy hour, and for the playwrights and reporters who linger until closing time. But for a new generation of journalism students and light-rail riders, Durant’s stands to be a revelation.

IMG_8042On a recent Saturday night I encountered a hipster couple at the bar who wondered aloud about the difference between an apertif and a digestif, then left without finishing their martinis. I have a feeling Mr. Durant’s English bulldog, Humble, would have growled at them were he still prowling the bar instead of hanging on the wall, immortalized in oil paint.

IMG_8268College students and cool kids should know that Durant’s ain’t cheap. You could buy a year’s worth of Top Ramen for what it costs to order dinner for two. Expect to pay $49 for a filet mignon, $72 for a porterhouse and $32 for crab cakes. For those of us not impervious to the recession, splitting a shrimp cocktail or a late-night dessert at the bar is a more reasonable option. (I’m a fan of the simple-yet-sublime vanilla ice cream with fresh berries.)

And here’s a memo to light-rail riders: I know the trains drop you off on Central Avenue, but if you use the restaurant’s streetside entrance, you’ll miss out on the true Durant’s experience. Instead, walk around to the valet stand in the rear parking lot, then follow the red mats through the kitchen to the dining room. For a few seconds, as the cooks and wait staff issue greetings over the din of sizzling meat and clattering kitchenware, you’ll feel like you’re the star of that long tracking shot in Goodfellas.

IMG_8101Once inside, request a booth. They’re covered in wine-colored vinyl and set against red-flocked wallpaper. They’re also shaped like capital “C’s,” which might make you feel like you need to close a deal or engage in a game of footsie, depending on your dining companion.

When it’s time to order, go big. Eat like a gangster. Every entrée is as monumental as Jack Durant’s backstory, but I recommend something old-schoolish like the Delmonico steak or prime rib — you know, something with a little fat on it. And don’t be shy about asking for seconds of Durant’s famous bread, which comes drenched in butter and garlic and crowned with minced basil and leeks.

Jack Durant’s motto was this: “In my humble opinion, good friends, great steaks and the best booze are the necessities of life.” I don’t know if you’ve ever read Cannery Row, but let me tell you: That little novel’s cast of characters would have loved Jack Durant and the poetic, nostalgic, habit-forming restaurant he gave Phoenix.

Jack

www.durantsaz.com

Switch

Cool blue. Cool and blue. That’s really all you need to describe Switch, a great restaurant on the north area of downtown Phoenix. It’s one of those places that’s a perfect lunch spot (the kind of place that really takes you somewhere else) and that’s also a hip nightlife spot.

Bar at Switch

 

The blue color is so emotive and relaxing, there is a super urban chic patio (where they can host private parties, if you’re looking), and the servers are always fun and since their menu offers so many options, they’re very knowledgeable.

My favorite things to get – and really, you can’t pass them up – are the gallettes. Their baked and tons of options – smoked turkey and brie with grapes and bechamel, prosciutto and mozzarella, beef and mushroom or chicken pot pie (anyone who knows me knows you can win me over with chicken pot pie). Your gallette is all piled on top of this crispy and light puff pastry and seriously can’t tell you how good it is. Well, it’s so good that I tried to make it at home (with some great friends over, nonetheless) and I messed it up really bad. But the fact that I even tried to duplicate it really is a testiment to its deliciousness. Needless to say, I’ll just get my fix at Switch. 

Prosciutto and mozzarella gallette

 

Stuffed crepes, an array of gourmet-but-very-fairly-priced sandwiches, burgers, salads and the oh-so-trendy shared plates, all grace the menu, and thank goodness, because where I usually get sick of a restaurant after a few times, I don’t even have the opportunity to wear it out!

Because lunch, dinner and after-hours still couldn’t accommodate the  demand, they also have a brunch on the weekend that is worth getting out of bed for! 

Did I mention the bar? Oh yeah. It’s fantastic. I love a good eat-late-then-stay-for-drinks kind of place, and this is it, my friends.

http://www.switchofarizona.com/ 

2603 N Central Ave.

Phoenix, AZ 85004

602-264-2295


Prado

We are so lucky in Phoenix, aren’t we? I mean, even working in travel, it’s easy to take all the resorts for granted. Sweeping views of Camelback Mountain, which are also amazingly reflected in the glassy pools, palm trees rustling in the light breeze and you, behind your sunglasses and underneath your big floppy hat, gaze with amazement. 

views from montelucia

At least I did. Most recently at the Montelucia, a new resort that opened in early November. The thing is – it’s really a step into a different world. The little details everywhere are amazing. The new-thing-in-town restaurant, Prado, gives the same feeling of, “OH – this is Prado?!” 

Now, let’s just admit something. Resort restaurants in the past were – ummm – not exactly the place to be. A little stale, a little stuffy (and not talking about the air), they were just not exciting or lively or fun. But no more, my friends. Now, they are hip and great because they have life in them. 

inside prado

So what’s Prado like? You come in through this grand entrance, and at the front is M Bar, which serves small plates and the full menu and is this dark wood bar, loungey leather area, and live music. Then the restaurant is in the back half, with a great European/Spanish feel, all open to the patio (more on that later). It’s so cozy, but you’re there for the food, really. So I should tell you that it’s as good as you think. And probably better than you know. For dinner, I had the roasted chicken and about fell over it was so good. My husband had the lamb, which was equally amazing, but he even liked the chicken better. We raved about it so much to our waiter that he brought out the chef, Claudio, who proceeded to tell us that the chicken is organic and from a farm strict about no cruelty to animals. He also mentioned all the farms where they get local produce, meat, almost everything. We wound up going to Prado two nights in a row. I had the chicken both nights, but switched it up the second night and saved room for dessert.

{By the way, we ran into another couple who had been to Prado for three nights – they were staying at the resort for their 29th wedding anniversary – and she said that she had the chicken the third night they were there, and if she had ordered that the first night, she would have had it three nights in a row. So there you have it.}

A dessert doesn’t have to try hard to win my affection, but there were these churros that rocked my world. I mean, I have craved them to high heavens since I went, and I have to get my fix. Everyone knows what a churro is, right? In case not, they are these rolled sweet dough things that are covered in sugar. Prado, Prado, Prado, what have you done to me. They were crispy on the outside, soft and warm on the inside and when dipped in the chocolate cream, become spiritual. 

Prado churros

{Another BTW – after dinner, stroll over to the sitting area with what I like to call the “lava wall” where a big wall of fire warms an incredibly comfortable seating area. Actually, there are seating areas all over, and it’s the perfect end to a stroll after dinner. It’s gorgeous. Seriously.}

lava wall

From this experience, nothing short of in love with Prado, we went again for breakfast. We sat on the patio – OH the patio. I have a thing with patios. We have a lot of great nights here, and the weather is perfect for the outdoors. But when your host brings you to your table, it’s like all the personality of the restaurant is completely abandoned in favor of some heaters and metal chairs. No, no, no. Not Montelucia style. Their patio made me pretend that I was visiting friends in Ibiza, cozy but thoughtful. I had some of the most delicious breakfasts, including the french toast with nutella (See a trend? Bread and chocolate?). I have to tell you though, that we were blown away by their coffee. From Italy, it was also crave-worthy and I highly recommend it. 

Prado patioview from patio

French toast with Nutella   breakfast sandwich

The sound of the fountains soothe through the meal, the live music in the background, the Mediterranean colors remind you of Europe, but Prado at the Montelucia takes you there. 

Fountains

www.icmontelucia.com