Fresh Mint's Vietnamese cuisine is entirely vegan, but meat lovers needn't be wary, according to Lonely Planet: “If you’re skeptical of soy chicken and tofu…we understand, but we respectfully submit that this stuff is as tasty as any bacon cheeseburger.” This has always been the goal of owner and executive chef Mai Ly, as she’s mastered the herbs, spices, and other ingredients that turn meat-free dishes into hearty, craveable entrees. Her most popular plates include the spicy lemongrass noodle soup and the golden-curry vegetable entrée, which unites potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, and tofu beneath a glaze of her signature curry sauce. All of Ly’s dishes are kosher, and several are gluten-free, which explains why bundles of wheat use the eatery for their family reunions.
Sala Thai Restaurant rewards its most loyal customers with a free dinner on their eighth visit. Considering the restaurant’s extensive menu—there are more than 100 options—racking up that many meals isn’t a difficult task. Thai spring rolls stuffed with vegetables and fried tofu prep palates for nine styles of Thai curry and barbecue platters of shrimp, sweet sausage, and pork. The staff pairs their lengthy menu with more than a dozen frozen drinks blended from exotic fruits, Thai coffees and teas, and water on the lam from the blazing kitchen.
Just past the vault door lies The Mint’s most valuable treasures: trays of expertly crafted cocktails and martinis. Housed in 7,000 square feet of a former bank building, The Mint nods to its previous life with money-themed drinks and rich, Asian-inspired tapas from a menu conceptualized by the restaurant's executive chef, Johnny Chu. Small plates of loganberry shrimp, wasabi sliders, and flash-fried sugar-cane pork take their place at booths cut with dark wood and cohiba marble or along seats at the main room’s 30-foot bar. Drinks include The Mint, a mélange of Grey Goose La Poire, star fruit, mint, and lemon, and Liquid Gold, which pairs a pineapple-infused vodka with Grand Marnier, amaretto, lemon, and raspberry, all heated to 1,948 degrees Fahrenheit. After fueling up with comestibles and drinks, diners can explore the patio’s cabana-style seating or take a break with some bubbly at the coed bathroom’s champagne bar.
It's hard to define the vibe at American Junkie. Is it a sports pub? Is it a dance club? A craft-beer bar? In truth, it's a bit of all of these things, with the atmosphere and activities changing from the time it opens to the closing of the doors late into the night (3 p.m.?10 p.m. on Sundays or until 4 p.m.?2 a.m. Wednesday?Saturday). Oftentimes, the cheers of sports fans ring out as they follow American Junkie's resident teams: the Seattle Seahawks and the Ohio State University Buckeyes. The 20 HD plasma TVs also beam all the major UFC, boxing, and tickle fights.
Beneath several of the screens stretches a circular bar, where bartenders mix cocktails and pour all-American spirits?including craft beers, whiskey, bourbon, and wines sourced from California. But those drinks only account one part of American Junkie's menu. The rest comes from the kitchen, where chefs bake pizzas over mesquite wood, make grilled cheese sandwiches with gouda and crisp green apple slices, and slather ribs in barbecue sauce.
Meals often begin with housemade potato chips (complete with blue cheese dressing for dipping) and end in something truly decadent: a dessert called Half Baked. Vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup cover a half pound of cookie dough, which is baked in a deep-dish pan.
Feeling perhaps a little adventurous, Deirdre Pain wandered into a Thai restaurant one evening in the early 1980s. She expected to taste a few dishes she had never heard of before, but she didn’t expect to discover a lifelong obsession. Enticed by the flavorful spices and the delicate balance between sweet and salty, Pain soon became so enamored with Thai cuisine that she teamed up with a local chef to open a restaurant of her own, and in August of 1987, Malee’s on Main was born. 25 years later, Malee’s is still thriving thanks to its unique, upscale take on the traditional Thai restaurant, which includes doing some things a bit differently. All of the dishes, for example, are prepared in 10-inch sauté skillets to ensure that several people can order the same dish–-coco chili fish, crispy basil chicken, slow-roasted duck curry––and have it prepared differently. The same thoughtfulness is apparent in the restaurant’s dining areas. Comfy patios allow diners to bask in sunshine or enjoy a cool evening breeze, while cozy fireplaces accommodate those who like to swap ghost stories around a plate of crab rangoon.
Wrigley Mansion has been Phoenix’s grande dame for over 80 years, built as a 24-room estate between 1929 and 1932 by chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. as a 50th wedding anniversary present for his wife, Ada. However, the on-site Geordie’s Restaurant & Lounge is much newer – the Italian eatery opened in the 1990’s – but still retains the gracious elegance of the grounds with white tablecloth service and plenty of upscale entrées to choose from. Chef Robert Nixon makes his own pastas and breads, and plucks his own herbs from the Wrigley’s garden, then sends out statement dishes like the signature Bisteca alla Fiorentina, a 32-ounce Porterhouse for two, or tagliatelle tossed with daily seafood. The patio is extremely popular for periodic jazz nights and a sunset happy hour, though the gilded, baroque interior is nothing to shy away from, either.