Quick lunch review: Fez - Phoenix
I had lunch this week at Fez on Central. Although co-workers had been there a few times before, I had never joined them. Central Avenue is a construction mess right now, and it took us 10 minutes to travel 1 1/2 miles, but we made it.
Fez has kind of a modern, hip atmosphere. Stained concrete floor, mod but comfortable furniture and cool art. 3/4 of the space is restaurant, with the remaining 1/2 the bar area. The restaurant was full when we arrived, so we were seated at one of the 3-4 high tables in the bar. The padded seats were actually quite comfortable.
The guys were all talking about the hamburgers and the fries, so I stuck with that. The fez fries are $3.50 for each basket, and come in four flavors: cinnamon dusted sweet potato fries, spicy harissa, garlic and rosemary, and salt and pepper fries. The guys had pretty much decided on the garlic and the salt and pepper fries, so I just went along and the four of us shared two baskets, which was plenty.
The burgers are all 1/2 pound grilled angus, topped with different sauces and garnish. Since it was my first time, I ordered the fez burger which comes with spicy honey molasses bbq, cinnamon pears, feta, lemon garlic aioli, crispy onions and cilantro on a ciabatta (all the burgers are $9.95 and come with a field salad with lemon basil vinaigrette). Now let me tell you that I generally prefer a burger with lettuce, tomato, onion and a little ketchup. I am not a "trendy burger" guy. But this burger was really very good. Cooked perfectly, the combination of flavors really enhanced the flavor of the burger. They didn't load on the condiments, so nothing over powered the burger itself. I was actually very impressed.
The fries are addicting, but soon become overwhelming do to the additives. They are a medium cut, and arrived hot and perfect. The flavors are really piled on and I found I enjoyed them a lot, although it became tiring after a while. Just too much flavor and probably too much food.
This was not an inexpensive lunch. Total out the door with tip was $15 each, which is quite a bit more than we usually pay for a quick lunch, but it was good. I still prefer Delux for a burgers and fries (or even Lenny's on Central for the cheap version), but Fez is closer to my office and a pretty good option.
FEZ Restaurant & Bar
3815 N. Central Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85012
I had lunch at Fez last week. We arrived just before noon, and while the room was already bustling, we were seated immediately. The service overall was prompt, friendly, courteous and informed. The high-top table we had was adaquate, but the low tables probably are more comfortable. The pounding electronic dance music was much too loud and intrusive for lunch, probably more tolerable in its night club incarnation.
I knew that Fez has had some good feedback for its burgers. My lunch companion ordered the Fez burger and said it was pretty good, and it looked good, too. I ordered the Fez kisra, which was a huge (10-12") flatbread, described to me as pita-like, topped with a honey-molasses barbecue sauce, onions, grilled chicken, pears, cilantro and manchego. It was visually impressive but it was dreadful. The bread base was limp and ordinary, not a great vehicle for the wedges sliced pizza-style. I alternated knife and fork with eating by hand. The canned pears and the sauce were absurdly sweet and dominated the other flavors. The chicken was diced into tiny cubes, making for an unattractive texture; it would have been better if it were shredded or cut in larger pieces. The manchego, which was shaved and scattered on top, was barely discernible. More of this robust cheese may have cut the cloying sugar of the dish, but at $10.50, which isn't a bargain already, more manchego may not be feasible. Since I'm a glutton, I ate the whole thing anyway, except for a slice offered and accepted by my lunch companion. We split an order of sweet potato fries. They were sticky and dusted with lots of cinnamon and sugar, way, way too sweet -- they would have been fine without the sticky stuff.
We each had iced tea -- okay, nothing special, and the bill before tipping was about $31. Based on what we ordered and ate, Fez seems to be targeting teenage tastebuds at grown-up prices. In fairness, the menu offers other interesting options, so I may go back and order something else. It's too expensive and not good enough, in my view, to be a daily lunch option, but could work as an occasional hip diversion. Like so many other restaurants, the best advice may be to stick to the burgers, which is a shame because threre are many good burgers around.
Thanks for the review. My only exposure to Fez was on a Friday night after my SO had kind of talked up the food there. I was unimpressed--the food wasn't bad, but it wasn't anything special--and as silverbear notes, at night Fez seemed (seems?) like it was (is?) more interested in being a place-to-be-seen than a restaurant. Good to hear that they can do lunch right.
I like Fez for lunch. At night, the place seems to be more of a bar and nightclub that is way too hip for me, but during the day, there's less focus on special events and more emphasis on the food. The best way to get to the restaurant is via 3rd St. Turn at Clarendon or Indianola, both of which connect to the parking lot behind Fez. Approaching this way avoid delays due to light rail construction.