Smack dab downtown Phoenix on Adams Street and Second Avenue on the ground floor of Hyatt Place; the design isn’t stellar or standout. There’s a bar, some high-topped tables, some high-backed chairs, some non-descript décor, and a dog-friendly patio, all of it fine and functional. Ditto for the look of the actual happy hour menu, a one-sheet that lists $5 beers, $6 apps, and $7 cocktails by name, but it’s the unspoken details – the minutiae – that set it apart.
Take the beers. All eight of the taps, an ever-changing list pulled not by handles with flashy names but repurposed skateboard decks, are bestsellers from their perspective breweries. Even more impressive, the carefully curated list is primarily local. There’s The Shop Crispy from The Shop Beer Co. in Tempe, an easy drinker that’s no dumb blonde but a crisp and uplifting brainy lager. The Herstory Brew from Greenwood Brewing is a precise pale ale brewed by women-owned Greenwood Brewing. There’s the Mother Road Tower Station IPA from Flagstaff, arguably the mother of all Arizona beers.
Things get even flashier with the creative cocktail choices, five thirst traps as provocative-tasting as their names. They’re all pretty, photogenic, with minty garnishes and shapely stemware, but beyond appearances, they have more (and better) booze than not. Doctor’s Orders is head bartender Jay’s twist on a whisky smash, an apple-pie-in-a-glass blend of rye, lemon, and apple that finishes with a drizzle of caramel of a microplane of cinnamon. Professor B is day-dreamy with its tropical and transportive mix of white rum, blue curacao, pineapple, coconut, and Jamaican bitters. More delicate and nuanced, the Blood Orange Paloma takes the grapefruit out and puts the Thatcher’s Blood Orange Liqueur in for a sublime tequila-spiked sip that looks like a desert sunset. Plus, the lickable chili lime salt rim gets your taste buds ready to nosh.
Bringing your appetite isn’t always a happy hour battle cry, but it should be at Adams Table. All five apps are more than delicious, a mix of finger and fork foods that go beyond mere bites. Parmesan Garlic Fries comes with truffle aioli and a double dose of parmesan. Crispy Brussels Sprouts are bathed in sweet-and-sour gastrique and glazed pork belly, and Roasted Cauliflower is a dive in the delight of creamy hummus, sweet golden raisins, and buttery Marcona almonds.
No item is arbitrary, but there are standouts. The Desert Hot Chicken Bites does chicken right. Breaded in a crispy, paprika-tinged coating, these Nashville-style nuggets, which come stacked on toasted Noble bread, warm your mouth. Thankfully you have house pickles and buttermilk ranch to cool it down. Keeping things hot are the Tempura Fried Shishito Peppers. Lightly breaded and drizzled with a flashy house-made sweet chili sauce and thick, flaky salt, you’ll finish the plate by sopping up every last drop of sauce.
Close enough to hear the ding of the light rail and walkable to all the fun spots, Adams Table is in the epicenter of the action, with The Van Buren, Crescent Ballroom, and Orpheum Theater all a stone’s throw. And by all means, wear your trendy best, but no one is looking or comparing. With no airs or pretense, just flavor-forward food and drinks served with more than a smile, Adams Table truly serves substance over style.
150 West Adams Street
Happy Hour: Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. featuring $5 package and draft beers, $6 appetizers, and $7 cocktails. Reverse happy hour Friday and Saturday from 8 to 10 p.m.