Beneath the gaze of the numerous chimps painted on Nimbus American Bistro N' Brewery’s walls, the Tuscan-based brewery's craft beers mingle with gourmet versions of pub favorites. Chef Josh Tomczyk and his kitchen crew simmer fresh seafood and meats in beer-based sauces before transforming them into burgers, pasta dishes, and steaks. Their wood-fired oven bakes artisanal pizzas, pairing with specialty cocktails or pints of Nimbus pilsners, stouts, and ales. In the expansive dining room, warm lights and vibrant brewery-inspired murals dazzle eyes from the ceiling, and rows of tables and booths scatter the hardwood floors. A patio hosts outdoor dining, welcoming patrons to bring along their dogs or goldfish disguised as dogs. The restaurant hosts special events throughout the week, including pool tournaments on Tuesdays and live entertainment on Saturdays.
Old World Brewery ferments European-style brews with the occasional American twist ranging from light honey wheats to chocolaty dark porters. European malts give the crisp and light Nitro Blonde ale a semi-sweet taste and cryptic accent, and Columbus and Saaz hops characterize the floral essence and malty finish of the Four-Leaf Irish Red Ale.
At Vino 100, team members aren’t sommeliers—they’re “wine enthusiasts.” The approachable job title reflects owner Laura McCormack’s overall mission of making wine more accessible to non-connoisseurs. The goal is also reflected in the store’s layout. Rather than by area of origin or grape, vintages are simply arranged by flavor, laid out from light and fruity to dry and full. Like the layout, the prices are accessible, with more than 100 wines—primarily from small-scale artisans—priced at under $25. For added shopper-friendliness, the store hosts classes on wine appreciation, teaching students to deduce a wine’s flavor without googling it first.
Although tumbleweeds don't breeze down its street and there's no hitching post on which to secure your horse, Brix Wine Spot swaps the valley for the Old West while helping visitors earn their sommelier spurs. A 20-foot copper bar corrals patrons as they stampede through the door, surrounding them with country tunes and over 500 of the bar's vintages.
Weekly tastings introduce palates to new bouquets, and every day a minimum of 18 wines are available by the glass, each served at an optimal temperature and right after naptime to ensure cooperation. When stomachs begin to rumble, guests can snack on artisan cheeses, salami platters, and handcrafted cheesecakes, or even bring in their own food—a practice Brix encourages as long as a glass of one of their wines is incorporated.
Nancy Fitzgerald, owner of The Tasting Room, knows the importance of being local–having grown up in the Phoenix area herself–and populates her eatery’s wine and beer lists with local Arizona tipples. Specializing in boutique and specialty wines and beers, she's also amassed a menu of more than 70 wines from across the United States, South America, and Europe that are complimented by more than 20 microbrews and a cider. Her chefs pair these libations with small plates of italian crostini and goat-cheese-stuffed bell peppers, and paninis topped with smoked and cured meats and eclectic cheeses. A variety of pre-arranged specialty cheese and meat plates are also available, or guests can create custom plates from a list of 18 different cheeses and 7 meats with which to impress a date or immediately see the benefits of a low-carb diet.
As its name would suggest, Carefree is a laid-back town, with a sense of humor to boot. Look out for quirky street signs (Ho Hum Road and Nonchalant Avenue) and keep in mind the town’s motto (“home of the cowboys and caviar”). Phoenix lies about 30 miles to the south, and the Continental Mountains rise just to the north and create a nice backdrop opposite the Black Mountain range. There are a handful of hiking trails in the area, but for those who prefer the comforts of saddle, you can rent a bike from the hotel or sign up of for a guided horseback ride through the desert. Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.