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cocktail party near PHX convention center?

I throw a cocktail party (hors d'oeuvres and lots of drinks) at an annual conference for my company and next year's event will be at the Phoenix Convention Center. Previous years' parties have just been at the host hotel, but I went a bit overboard at our event in Savannah this year and threw the party at The Lady & Sons. The big draw for guests was celebrity chef Paula Deen, but the location and service were wonderful and the food wasn't bad either.

So now I have to match that!

Anyone have suggestions for a good cocktail party location near the convention center? My requirements:

- walk or *very* short cab ride from convention center
- lively atmosphere
- dedicated banquet area that fits at least 100

and of course:

- great food!

I'd love something unique to Phoenix. I'm open to all kinds of cuisines, as long as the atmosphere is festive and the food is good. Catered/banquet food isn't always the best representation of a restaurant, I know -- but I'd like the location we choose to have a quality menu to work from.

Thanks for any suggestions you might have!

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  1. Hm-m-m, while Phoenix has some great food, I cannot bring anything, that fits your requirements, in the Convention Center area to mind.

    Now, to your thought of a "catered" event: though the restaurant recently got a less than favorable review on this board, I still stick with my love for the food at Vincent's On Camelback, http://www.vincentsoncamelback.com/. Chef Vincent Guerithault, a James Beard Award winning chef, has created a Phoenix landmark for dining with his unique and personal take on Southwest-influenced French cuisine. We have used their catering service for groups from 12 to 60. I have attended events for 200, where he, and his staff shown. Provided that your hotel will accommodate your requests, this would be one recommendation.

    Maybe others will have some more ideas for you. Also, the complexion of the downtown dining scene is changing in Phoenix, but I do not know if it will be "ready" in time for your event.

    Hunt

    1. i'd say tradiciones - its not at the phx center but its relatively close. when we were there at xmas they had 2 separate private events that totaled 150 ppl - so they can definitely handle the volume

      1. OR the science center is a quick walk of a block or 2 - why not have the party there??

        3 Replies
        1. re: winedubar

          Oooh... the Science Center could be cool. This is an event for Pharmacists. Any maybe the Science Center would allow Bill Hunt's caterer. (Hotel locations rarely allow outside caterers.)

          Thanks for the suggestions! Keep 'em coming! I really appreciate the help.

          1. re: janeoh

            You have two major challenges... timing and location.

            - Timing wise, downtown PHX is under major construction. There's light rail going in, the convention center is being rebuilt, a massive convention hotel has not even begun to arise, not to mention other major projects that are still in infancy... a major new ASU campus, biotech facility, condos, - plus a big entertainment district, parks and housing proposed. Thus what you have is a number of blocks under construction, others being demolished, and a bunch of seemingly vacant real estate doing nothing until the stars align. Lots of proimise, but timing wise you are in a transitional period.

            - You'll be locationally challenged for the same reasons. There are some nice gems near downtown, but I can't think of any for 100+.withiin walking distance.

            Honestly, you might consider taking a couple of buses from the conference hotel to offsite location.

            Otherwise, you should check with the Science Center, Symphony, Art Museum, etc - all of which are nearby - to see their catering options.

            When is your gig? The Museum of Art, for now, is hosting a world class collection of Rembrandt.

            1. re: janeoh

              We've attended similar events at both the Science Museum and the Art Museum. Since I was only an attendee, I do not know the catering situation. All of these were good, though the wine selection at the Art Museum was very, very limited - probably from their catering dept.

              Please post your reviews, good & bad, as this is a fairly common inquiry, and we (locals) need to know who handles this sort of event the best.

              Another venue, albeit not really close, is the Phoenix Desert Botanical Gardens. Again, we've attended weddings, business dinners, etc. there, and they do a great job. However, I have never been the person in charge of organizing the event, so I do not know all of the details.

              If you decide to do something outside the CBD (Central Business District - a term not often used in the PHX Area), there are several transportation companies, that cater to the business dinner off-site. Here, I could make a few recs., however, they are well outside the domaine of "food," so I will remain silent on this aspect.

              AND, you know that you are now obligated to post a review, eh?

              Hunt

          2. The Arizona Club at the top of the Bank One(Chase) tower does hosted events like banquents and weddings. We looked into it for our wedding - nice view.

            http://www.arizonaclub.org/

            What about the sports facilities - Don't they have clubs?

            1. A great Caterer in the downtown area that is terrific is Taylor Rae’s Catering – (602) 264-6900
              They may have some suggestion for venues in the downtown area that would work for a group.
              Ask for Randy!!!