Tom's Tavern & 1929 Grill Is Back and Poised To Become One of Downtown's Best Lunch Spots (Even the Flippin' Pickles Are Good)

Categories: First Taste

Get this: Cuban Sandwich
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions. Share a few photos, some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

Restaurant: Tom's Tavern & 1929 Grill
Location: One Renaissance Square
Open For: About a month.
Eats: American
Price Point: $10-$30

Downtown Phoenix was stunned when Valley landmark and political gathering spot Tom's Tavern, located on the northeast corner of First Avenue and Washington Street, went up for sale last year after previous owner Michael Ratner couldn't maintain operations due to his battle with cancer, to which he eventually succumbed last November. Then came Cardinals president Michael Bidwill, a longtime supporter of Tom's Tavern and acquaintance of Ratner who stepped in and purchased Tom's earlier this year, giving the restaurant a remodel in the spring.

Open for only a month, Tom's already has a high-profile regular, but before I tell you who, let's take a bite.

The remodeled interior of Tom's Tavern.
Tom's updated interior goes along a new menu for the restaurant's daily breakfast, lunch and dinner service of traditional American fare with a Southwestern twist courtesy of executive chef Jason Choate of Rojo Hospitality Group, the division of Bidwill's company that handles the food service at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

Diablo chicken wings.
I started with the Diablo chicken wings, Buffalo-style. The tangy sauce was solid and I appreciated the just-right serving of eight. My friendly server told me the jalapeño spinach artichoke dip is good as well. Next time.

A sandwich like the prime rib French dip may sound conventional enough, but Tom's makes it stellar with quality meat in addition to roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions, and a top-notch bun. Fans of mac 'n' cheese may want to opt for Tom's as the accompanying side -- made with smoky chipotle chiles and bits of crunchy bacon, it was satisfyingly tasty.

A little more unique than the French dip is the Cuban. Stacked high with layers of so-good roasted pork and smoked ham (courtesy of Tom's in-house meat smoker), Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard between a soft roll, this sandwich's selling point, like the French dip, is the meat, with the pickles adding a nice crunchy texture and additional flavor. Try it with a cup of Tom's Famous 1929 Chili made with "Tom's secret ingredients," for a decidedly Southwestern twist with a light, smoky flavor that satisfies.

And speaking of pickles, Tom's hasn't gone the way of the store-bought variety. Made in-house, they're delicious -- slightly sweet with a mild pickled flavor. One wasn't enough for me.

Prime rib French dip with chipotle mac 'n' cheese.
If you visited Tom's before the remodel, you'll appreciate the updates. It's kept it's charm and dark wood accents but thanks to things like fresh paint and a new tile floor, it feels brighter and more welcoming for its clientele of tourists and business men and women able to hand over a few more bills for a better-than-average lunch.

And its most well-known regular to date? Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He was there on my visit and my server said he comes in nearly every day.

Thanks to a successful remodel and food that satisfies, it looks as if Tom's is serious about owning the title of a genuine downtown Valley landmark that's a great go-to spot for lunch -- maybe breakfast, too. I can't wait to come back for the burritos and oatmeal pancakes.

What say you downtown denizens and visitors? Have you been to Tom's Tavern & 1929 Grill yet? What did you think?

Follow Chow Bella on Facebook and Twitter.

Location Info

Tom's Tavern & 1929 Grill

2 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

Hopefully they are cooking the Diablo Wings I went for lunch the first week they were open hoping to sink my teeth into some good chicken wings like I used to get at Tom's.........unfortunately what I was served was RAW. NOT a good start and hopefully not an indication as to how it will be.....

Loyal Reader
Loyal Reader

I love reading New Times food reviews. In fact, I have this column feed into my Google Reader so I don't miss a post. One request, if I may - could you list the price of each dish you mention so we get a true sense of what a meal would cost? Just put it right after the dish, like "Diablo chicken wings ($7.50)." Thank you and keep making our mouths water!


I was just about to decide that my next new eating adventure would be at Tom's until you brought the Dementia King of Maricopa County into the story.  Sorry, no matter how good the food is, if I was to encounter Arpaio at lunch, I would have to throw up on his shoes.  I'll be sure to go to Tom's as soon as This Shurf is safely tucked away someplace where he can no longer be a menace to society.

Now Trending

From the Vault