Looking for a casual and inexpensive place downtown to meet up with friends, with bar.
We'll be at a convention at the Convention Center (duh) and a group of us want to have dinner afterwards next Thursday. We will have a car, but we might end up with a bigger group, so walking distance would be nice. Drinks are important, but we definitely prefer casual and not too pricey. Mexican would be good, but whatever place we choose should be vegetarian-friendly or at least have fish entrees (he won't eat meat). East Indian is good too, but only if its better than average. (DH is from India, and is picky about Indian restaurants...). Actually, any ethnic is probably fine. One of us goes gluten-free, and we all like seafood.
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I have slightly bad news: Neither of your preferred cuisines is available downtown. The only Mexican restaurant with a bar in the downtown area is Mi Amigo's at Arizona Center, and they're about as pedestrian as Mexican gets in this town. You could do worse, but not by much. Speaking of worse, skip Sam's Cafe a couple of doors down; I'm pretty sure that it would have closed ages ago if it weren't for the two very tall office towers on the same block. There is zero Indian food for several miles.
My vote goes with Ipsedixit to head to Blue Hound. I've heard nothing but glowing reviews about the place, and it looks like both vegetarians and celiacs will be easily accommodated.
I would add The Breadfruit to your list. They have a fantastic line up of rum-based cocktails and a casual vibe. Based what I've eaten on my visits to both, I'd put their food (refined takes on Jamaican/Caribbean cuisine) ahead of that of Blue Hound. The Breadfruit (rightly) takes pride in it seafood preps.
If I were concerned *only* about drinks, then Blue Hound would be my top choice by far. Even though I've thoroughly enjoyed the drinks I've had at The Breadfruit's rum bar, I appreciate the variety of spirits available at Blue Hound. I could see a nice evening consisting of a pre-dinner cocktail at Blue Hound followed by a buzzy stroll up to The Breadfruit for another drink and dinner.
I'm no expert on gluten sensitivities, so I can't comment on what's safe or what can be easily and suitably modified at either place--if concerned, I would inquire ahead of time.
Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails
2 E Jefferson St
Phoenix, AZ 85004
The Breadfruit and Rum Bar
108 E Pierce St
Phoenix, AZ 85004
Blue Hound is good, had a great lunch there the other day with a nice flatbread and some house made tater tots, nice upscale touch on comfort food. Bit pricey though. Arrogant Butcher or Bliss might work as well.