“You wanna go where everybody knows your name…” Anyone remember that song? Any Cheers fans out there? I used to watch that show on Nick-at-Nite a lot as a kid. Kind of strange now that I think of it…a show about a bar on Nick-at-Nite, but I guess that’s a whole other topic. Anywho, I always just loved how everyone was together on that show. How it was a place people gathered after work, after a bad day, or to share in good news and a smile. Many of the places around Phoenix are like that. It may sound cheesy, but over the last few years we found a few favorite spots we can count on for a good laugh, amazing food, and unique cocktails.
The other day we stopped into St. Francis for a late lunch/early dinner and had the pleasure of trying out their new market menu, which featured some summer cocktails by our friend and their head bartender, Titus Fauntleroy. We were lucky to stop in on a day where the owner, Chef Aaron was in the back cooking up some fresh dishes as well. We were really in for a treat with the both of them there.
One by one colorful dishes of crispy okra, melon gazpacho, and wood fired flatbreads were brought out to us. Once we started to dive into everything Chef Aaron joined us, told us a bit about the dishes, and we caught up on life and business. It’s always a pleasure getting to chat with him, whether it is about his son starting school and our house hunting or diving into his restaurant plans and ideas for new menus. One thing we always find ourselves fascinated with is his home garden and gardening skills. We always chat his ear off about it, and he’s so generous to share his tips and tricks that he’s learned over the years. The amount of fruit trees and vegetable beds he has is impressive and the fact that he continues to keep it thriving in a desert climate is so admirable. A home garden has always been a dream of ours…one day we’ll get there. Not sure if we’ll be producing a watermelon a day, like someone we know, but baby steps. 😉
We met Titus way back when we first moved to Phoenix, at an instameet. It’s kind of crazy how you can meet people nowadays, but technology and community are powerful things…it really blows our minds repeatedly. It can be hard to hard to find genuine people, especially as you get older and get exposed to more in life, but man, Phoenix truly is a special place. We are so lucky to call Titus our friend, and it’s a major bonus that he is a wizard behind the bar at one of our favorite restaurants in town. He wears a lot of hats, and wears them well, bartender being one of them. He’s always coming up with something new and exciting to complement a dish. Plus, he’s the guy to go to when you’re having a holiday party. Not only will he show up in the snazziest, festive suit around, he knows exactly what a bar cart should be stocked with to keep the night going.
This was the Simple Thymes cocktail: vodka, thyme simple syrup, and fresh squeezed grape juice. He suggested pairing it with the fried okra, which was from a local farm at South Mountain. It was so light and fresh for these hotter days.
Many of you have asked for suggestions on places to check in AZ and we’re looking forward to sharing a more formal list of our favorites, but until then…if you’re looking for somewhere to start, grab yourself a cocktail at St. Francis.