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Restaurateur Julian Wright, who's known for local hotspots Canteen Modern Tequila Bar and La Bocca Urban Pizzeria, has expanded his multicultural culinary empire—this time with an American beer garden. At Handlebar Tempe, he introduces guests to European-style communal dining around elongated counters and tables without shifting focus away from the main draw: a sizeable and largely American craft beer list. The resident beer expert—a self-professed "beer geek"—rotates 24 taps and 24 bottles from state-side and European craft breweries, highlighting local beers from Four Peaks Brewing Co. and Mother Road Brewing. But manning the 60-foot indoor/outdoor bar requires more than just pushing taps and opening bottles. The bartenders also help guests navigate the beer and wine lists while concocting specialty cocktails jazzed up with organic liqueurs and agave nectar.
There may not be much by way of food at The Handlebar Tempe, but the dishes they do serve find an easy foothold with both the casual atmosphere and all-important beer list. Locally made sausages dominate the small menu, including tangy sauerkraut and pickled fresno peppers atop juicy bratwurst, southwest smoked turkey, and chicken-and-apple sausages. The eatery's chefs also braid house-made pretzels, cook locally raised burgers, and fry hand-cut fries served with five dipping sauces—including blue cheese bacon and Thai ketchup.
Reclaimed barn wood, exposed ceilings, and brick lend the chicness of a loft to the comfortable space. And when the garage doors behind the bar go up, The Handlebar doubles in size, welcoming guests to mingle on the 2,000-square-foot outdoor patio. Amid the dog-friendly patio's lighted trees, fire pits, and park benches, the defining feature from which The Handlebar Tempe gets its name—hooks for hanging bicycles—encircle the space.
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