Milagro Grill: Happy Hour Report Card
The Spot: Milagro Grill
Buchanan Camarones Dulces
4280 E. Indian School Road, #101, Phoenix
Hours: Happy Hour is offered 3:30-6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The Interior: Street-side Milagro Grill looks more upscale and way more fun than its strip mall location would suggest, but this is the new normal: strip mall restaurants boasting enough classy decor elements -- in this case, brick, wood and metal -- to transcend the location. About half the restaurant is dining room, while the other half is lounge, furnished with multiple TVs, the requisite garage doors and an indoor-outdoor bar. That's all well and good, but this time of year, you'll want to head straight for the patio, which is really more like a spacious deck boasting tables and chairs plus a row of booths overlooking Indian School Road. It's not as noisy as you'd imagine and I love the tush-friendly comfort of a booth -- not torturous patio furniture -- outdoors.
Buchanan Pork tacos (al pastor)
The Food: Siblings Reed, Ryan, Jaret and Brynn Johnson, the grandchildren of Woody and Victoria Johnson (who founded the Macayo's Mexican restaurant empire) own and operate Milagro (which means "miracle" in Spanish) with their mother "Nana," but this trendy, upbeat operation bears absolutely no resemblance to the utterly predictable food of that local chain. For starters, the Johnsons hired James Fox, whose resume includes Big Earl's BBQ (and, more importantly, Zinc Bistro and The Mission, where Fox worked under super-talent Matt Carter). Clearly, they never intended to go the traditional AZ-Mex route anyway. "Mexican-American fusion with European influences and a South American flair" is the faintly overwrought description found on Milagro's website, and while that may be how it all plays out on the regular menu, happy hour offerings, priced between $5-$7, are simple and straightforward.