9 Great Places to Drink Outdoors in Metro Phoenix
It's March. The weather is as damn near perfect as it's ever going to get, and most of us want to be outside doing something -- or better yet, nothing -- every gloriously balmy minute. You've probably already run through a mental Rolodex of restaurants with great dining patios, but where do you go when you just want to drink?
Here are nine places that seem just right for relaxing in the Great Outdoors over a beer, a glass of wine or a cocktail. Five of them feature outdoor bars, a trend so spot-on for Phoenix it's a wonder someone didn't think of it sooner.
Buchanan The Yard
If there's one thing serial restaurateur Sam Fox understands better than just about anyone else, it's that good design creates good mood. And this time, he and his brilliant team have outdone themselves, creating a post-modern multi-use space so crazy-cool that everyone wants to be there. What you may not have pictured, given the name, is that The Yard is not really a yard in the strictest sense of the word but rather a huge roofed patio -- okay, maybe a courtyard -- furnished with mod '60s-era couches and wing chairs at one end and lawn games such as ping-pong, table shuffleboard and cornhole toss (on turf) at the other. The place looks way more chic than your usual game-geared hangout -- kind of like The Monastery with a Sex and the City vibe. Grab a seat at the indoor-outdoor bar (half of it sits inside Culinary Dropout) or just lounge around in the hippest, most comfortable backyard you can imagine. Expect 18 beers on tap and dozens more (many super-craft-y) by the bottle,16 mostly affordable wines by the glass plus Culinary Dropout's signature cocktails. And, of course, there's a happy hour, offered 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Buchanan Indoor-outdoor bar at El Chorro
Parked between Camelback and Mummy mountains, this wonderful, rich-in-history spot conjures the Phoenix-that-used-to-be as few others can. Oh, sure, it's more glamorous now, thanks to an extensive 2010 makeover, but it still draws the same old-school crowd: golfers, old-timers, and local movers and shakers who've come to bask in an Arizona spring. The lush desert setting is so much more beautiful than a camera can capture in one frame -- mountains, cactus, fireplaces, and blue sky here, flowers, fountains and desert trees over there. Get there early in the week and it's a tranquil little paradise, but by Friday, the huge indoor-outdoor bar and the patio are packed -- although it's still fairly tranquil. This is not a rowdy crowd. Happy hour wines by the glass are decent and dirt-cheap, and a table in the lounge features a freebie buffet if you don't want to spring for happy hour nibbles such as street tacos and crispy chicken livers with onion marmalade.