Phoenix chef Christopher Gross is something of a local legend, having pulled in a James Beard award for his upscale French cooking. At his eponymous Christophers Restaurant, the star chef plates up dishes like a lobster pot pie or wood oven pizza, topped unexpectedly with duck confit, goat cheese and figs. But even amid the sleek, upscale bistro setting with a glass-encased kitchen, he keeps things fun, peppering the menu with playful bites like an excellent burger that’s topped as you wish. At Crush Lounge, next door, the mood is sexier, with loud music, a busy bar and small plates like roasted rabbit salad or a house smoked salmon “BLT” sandwich, each to be paired with the restaurant’s list of over 50 by-the-glass wine choices. Stick around long enough and chef Gross might emerge from the kitchen himself to check in on your table with a handshake and a smile.
Consecrated to the cosmos, Sky Bar is a solar-powered caf? in the daytime and an astronomy-themed bar by night. The caf?'s solar installation uses 323 solar panels to eschew the consumption of fossil fuels and help keep the planet healthy. At night, the focus turns to celestial bodies other than our own, as images from the bar's rooftop telescope are projected inside to create a cosmic ambiance. On open-mic nights, local and traveling musicians take the stage under the auspices of host DJ Odious, whose vinyl collection includes a 7-inch cut from Saturn's rings.
Voted the Best Local Performing Arts Troupe by readers of the East Valley Tribune in 2011, National Comedy Theatre’s ensemble of players concocts improvised situations at lightning-fast speeds, relying on audience participation and their own wits to elicit thunderous laughter and applause. After turning to their all-ages crowd for assistance in shaping games and scenarios, the cast employs knowledge gleaned from operating-room sketches to tickle ribs with anatomical exactitude. The show often favors spontaneity over prudence, with performers gleefully stepping into their roles as acrophobic skydiving champions or long-winded court stenographers. Audience members get to select the winning team at the conclusion of the show, and can learn the form themselves during improv classes.
The spring-loaded trampolines and high-flying activities at Airworx’s brightly colored 27,000-square-foot center launch visitors of all ages high into the air. Families can duke it out at the dodge ball court to determine who sits in dad’s comfy chair, and kids younger than 7 spring from age-appropriate trampolines and crawl over a 20-foot inflatable structure in the Shooting Stars area. Airworx’s nightclub-quality sound system and bouncy floors leave visitors breathless as they simulate Jordan-esque dunks amid rows of basketball hoops or challenge friends on the 140-foot trampolines to see how many backflips it takes to travel back in time. Besides open bouncing, Airworx also opens up colorful private rooms for birthday parties, and an elevated DJ booth personalizes the tone of unique corporate and group events.
• For $36, you get a seat in section 201–203 or 213–230 (a $54.20 value before fees, or up to a $71.50 value online, including all ticketing fees). • For $56, you get a seat in section 113–120 (a $94.20 value before fees, or up to a $112.90 value online, including all ticketing fees).
Arizona’s most promising side-splitters share the stage with nationally renowned headliners at Speakeasy Comedy Club, a venue taking its atmospheric cues from a Prohibition-era nightspot. Shows on Friday and Saturday nights feature performers who have honed their anatomical knowledge of funny bones during televised appearances on Conan, Last Comic Standing, and HBO specials. Though the club discloses its password to a range of comics from diverse backgrounds, most performers eschew squeaky-clean comedy for a brand of dirty humor that appeals to the noir detectives who regularly lean on the venue's gray brick walls or occupy the back row’s plushy seats. A friendly wait staff supplies cocktails, signature margaritas, and other exquisite libations along with Mexican cuisine to soothe bellies aching from chortling fits.