PHX: Places you can "hang out?"
One of my fave eateries in L.A. didn't have world class (or even better than average) food, but was simply a great place to hang out and nibble, enjoy some beers, people watch and mingle now and again with those around (as well as regulars) for hours. It didn't matter if it was Friday happy hour or Sunday lunch - you could find a good crowd and not ever feel crowded.
Do we have that in PHX? I love the vibe of Dick's Hideaway, for example, but would kind of feel guilty lingering much after eating as it's small and there's often a need for seating by new patrons. A number of other frequently mentioned places also fit that profile... good, yet either too small or too busy for taking up space. Matt's, Pane Bianco, Cibo, Lux, Los Sombreros, etc.
I know it's tough to balance popularity with space. Still, are there places you feel you can hang out at and linger?
- coffee/tea houses?
I don't know that it would provide the people-watching opportunities you're looking for, but the Sportsman's on Camelback seems like a place where one can relax and nosh at the bar without a problem. When I stop in on weekend afternoons, there's usually a small crowd of folks doing just that.
In theory, Postino would seem to be a perfect match, but of course, the see-and-be-seen vibe, the LGO parking hassles, and the seemingly never-ending rush take it out of the running IMO.
Sportsman's Fine Wines
3205 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018
I was going to say Postino too, only because we did just that last Saturday. Got there at 12:30 (prime lunch time), and they seated me right away, even though I was still waiting for friends. We spent 4 hours on that corner; first lunch and wine at Postino, then over to LGO to pick up some bottles of wine and a cupcake, and Arcchelino for a scoop of gelato, then back to the bar table at Postino for another leisurely glass of wine.
Yes, parking is a pain, but I really didn't mind spending the 4 or so bucks for Valet. I was there for 4 hours, after all.
Maybe I've just gotten a weird sample then. Whenever I go to LGO to buy bread, which I admit is a rare occasion, Postino looks packed. The only time I actually ate at Postino was around 2:30 on a Friday afternoon. By 3:00 the place was 95% full, and people were continuing to stream in.
I'll do almost anything to avoid paying for parking. So, my usual M.O., if I can't get into one of the 19-minute spots, is to just park somewhere in the neighborhood. I don't mind walking a little bit, but I from what I've read here, I can see that some people are put off by the parking situation there.
I think a lot of the crowdedness at that time has to do with Postino's special prices on wine by the glass: $5 b/w 11 AM and 4 PM. It's a great bargain for those who can sneak away from work early.
As for parking in the neighborhood, that's more difficult these days because residents became justifiably frustrated with having cars parked in front of their houses and the City has now restricted parking on most of the surrounding streets to those with neighborhood decals on their cars.
Let me tell you about a great place: Rose and Crown @ Heritage Square downtown.
The kiddos were at grandma's on Saturday afternoon so we met some friends down there before they headed to the Suns game. The guys were happy with their beers, and I even had a pretty tasty margarita. The weather was perfect out on the nice porch/patio. The best part? People watching everyone waiting in line at Pizzeria Bianco across the way. We arrived at 4pm and the line was already huge, and it just kept getting longer. It made for great people watching and banter at our table.
There aren't a lot of good people watching spots in Phoenix. This made me happy.
Rose and Crown as good food as well.
A couple of my local favs are Black Forest Mill, Red Tomato and Hazelwoods. BFM probably has the best food of the bunch, but they all are definitely good hangout spots.
Sans food, Shady's is great.
Black Forest Mill German Restaurant
4900 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018
4801 E Indian School Rd # 1, Phoenix, AZ
Hazelwood's 1st Place Sports Grill
3626 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018
2701 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016
tastyjon -- yeah, the places you mentioned, fugettaboutit -- What you're looking for is elusive but valuable. Some possibilities ... Four Peaks, Tempe -- Sonora Brewing, Phoenix -- Soma Cafe, Phoenix -- John Henry's (bar), Tempe -- Phoenix City Grille and Sierra Bonita Grill, Phoenix ... maybe the Pita Jungles ... FWIW, Richardson's long-observed, venerable, and openly practiced policy is to place their palm to the small of the customers' back and shove them away from their table when they want to turn it. I don't know if this policy is pursued at Dick's or at Rokerij.