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.
Cellar 13's owner, Mike Hightower, is no triskaidekaphobian. That is, he's not afraid of the number 13. Rather, he embraces it. He even themed his whole business around the superstitious number: it's no coincidence that Cellar 13 offers 13 red wines, 13 white wines, and 13 menu items. Guests can choose to explore either of the two outdoor patios, dine along the wine bar, or descend—yes, 13 steps—down to the cellar, where a cozy lounge with leather armchairs and dark wood tables welcomes guests and anything served in a bottle or stemmed glassware. No matter where you sit, you will encounter a variety of fine wines, gourmet sandwiches, and a friendly staff.
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.
Johnny of Johnny Fox's Public House sought to re-create the comforting pub ambiance he experienced during his time in Ireland with his father. He has accomplished this by building an old-world cottage exterior and large water wheel and filling his pub's interior with Gaelic "craig agus ceol." Following the tradition of Irish pubs, he divided the rooms into quaint sections. Low wood tables and stools sit near a brick fireplace, while one ornate booth stands semienclosed near the back. An old pipe organ sits next to a long table occupied by wayward lawn gnomes, and plenty of natural light floods in from all directions. Bartenders fill pints with Guinness, Harp, and Smithwick's at a bar inscribed with Gaelic sayings. In the kitchen, chefs labor over classic dishes such as shepherd's pie prepared with fresh ground lamb and beef, Guinness-braised short ribs, and pan-seared sea bass. Brunch buffets are available on Sundays, and a good whiskey is easy to find at Johnny Fox's, including an 18-year Jameson, while a carefully selected list of white and red wines can be paired to match all dishes on the menu. The restaurant's 15,000 square foot space is also available for meetings, weddings, or meetings held during weddings.
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.
Since 1986, Theater Works Peoria's mission has been to shower northwest suburban Phoenix with engaging entertainment, produced by members of their own community. Directors mount productions of Broadway plays and musicals, holiday classics, and adaptations from film, literature, and Bazooka bubblegum wrappers. A bevy of youth programs line up a parallel season of plays, workshops, and camps.