We headed down to Arcadia for a second time to check out another wing joint that happens to be almost right next door to the last Arcadia place we visited, JT’s Bar & Grill. This is almost unfair to Arcadia Tavern because it just invites the comparison between the two and JT’s happens to be one of our favorite spots so far, currently ranking third behind only NY Boyz and Angie & Jimmy’s. We didn’t set out to just compare the two places though so we tried to be objective (sort of).
Arcardia Tavern lives up to its namesake neighborhood. The place looks nice and is situated in the prime corner spot. Parking was a little tricky which seems to be the norm around there. Really just not enough parking for all of their patrons. We lucked into a spot as someone was leaving so it didn’t turn out too bad.
We grabbed a couple spots on the patio to enjoy the decent weather outside (in February – suck it, cold states) and watch the Suns take on Dragic and the Rockets. Little did we know there was an awful University of Arizona flag looming over our heads at this table. That has to be some kind of bad luck. Now, the logical part of me has always argued that U of A is not so bad because more higher education and better educated people in general are good for our state but on the other hand, fuck U of A. I’m from the Valley of the Sun, go ASU!
After coming to terms with that terrible flag we ordered a couple of beers and looked at the menu to figure what we wanted for wings. The menu described the wings as Tavern (Soon-to-be-Famous) Wings. We read online that the Chipotle Honey flavor was a must-try so we ordered a dozen of those and a dozen of the Hot. It costs an extra dollar to get the wings grilled after frying but grilled hot wings are great (as we discovered from JT’s just down the road) so we forked over the extra couple of bucks and had them toss them on the grill. However, this did bring the total price up to $11 per dozen wings which is very steep (the $10 per dozen without grilling is still asking a lot). The wings would have to be pretty damn good to make them worth it at that price tag.
We hung out enjoying the cool night air while Arcadia Tavern slowly started to fill up with douchebags (who got lost on their way to Scottsdale?) and older folks (presumably the real residents of Arcadia). We drank beer out of weird fancy glasses – special glasses should be reserved for special beer, not just whatever you have on tap – and watched the Suns start losing. We also noticed that the place isn’t just decorated with U of A crap they have some Arizona State stuff on the walls as well. I don’t know what to make of that but I don’t like it. You have to pick a side or stay out of the conversation.
Luckily, the wings showed up to distract us. The wings were large and appeared to be cooked decently at least. They were served over a bed of lettuce leaves which was odd but I guess that is just how they roll in Arcadia. The wings didn’t look a whole lot different from each other except the Chipotle Honey looked stickier. It turns out that they were indeed stickier but that is to be expected from a sweeter, honey based sauce.
Xavvi and I disagreed about how Acardia Tavern wings rank amongst the hot wing places we have been to more than any other place, I think. I thought the Hot flavored wings were not bad, the Chipotle Honey were not very good, and that the place deserved to be placed around the middle of the pack on the rankings. Xavvi didn’t seem impressed by the wings at all and felt the place deserved to be towards the bottom of the rankings. They sure as hell are not 10 – 11 dollars a dozen good.
In retrospect, I still don’t think the Hot wings were too bad but they were still not that impressive. The place probably does belong towards the bottom of the Rankings which is really where they ended up anyway after we visited quite a few more impressive places. You win, Xavvi.
Now, the real problem with Arcadia Tavern isn’t that it is so terrible, it is that it is just sort of a bland experience that was slightly tainted by the douchebags and the U of A crap floating around. Looking back on the night it really didn’t leave a huge impression and I think that is because this place is just rather forgettable.
It doesn’t help that it is right next to JT’s. The fact is the two places could not be more different besides them both being bars that serve wings. Arcadia Tavern is the upscale bar you expect when you take in the surrounding area of Arcadia; JT’s is a dive bar in a rundown strip mall sticks out like a sore thumb in the upscale neighborhood. Arcadia Tavern is also not nearly as crowded and has a better parking situation (surprisingly, since their parking still sucked).
Even still, they just can’t hold up to the charm of JT’s. We talked about in the JT’s review how it seemed like the ultimate neighborhood bar. There was just something really authentic about the place. It comes across being exactly the type of place the owner wants to hang out in while Arcadia Tavern seems like the style and atmosphere is forced. Where JT’s is distinct and interesting, Arcadia Tavern is bland and unmemorable. That isn’t even bringing the wings into the conversation. When it comes to hot wings JT’s crushes Arcadia Tavern (as well as most of the places we have been). I guess what I am trying to say is that I don’t hate Arcadia Tavern but I don’t see why someone would hang out there when JT’s is close enough to throw a rock at from their patio.
The rest of the night proved to be about as memorable as a trip to Arcadia Tavern as neither Xavvi or I could really remember what we did that night. We think we may have gone back to Copper Blues again but we don’t know for sure. It must of been either an uneventful night not worth committing to long term memory or one hell of a night that we were incapable of committing to long term memory due to the drinking.
I considered just making up a story about what we did the rest of the night but I figured it wouldn’t be believable with all the time traveling and crime fighting.
4801 E Indian School Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85018
Sampled February 9th, 2012