Hop Social is one of the newest restaurants to stake claim to the highly coveted real of Chandler Boulevard. Hop Social occupies the space previously held by Elephant Bar.
This standalone building has been extensively remodeled. The exterior features an elegant upscale look. The first thing you observe prior to walking through the main entrance is the well-lit ample patio space. This promises to be the perfect place to enjoy an AZ winter al fresco dining experience.
The interior design is also quite impressive. The dining room features an interesting play on modern and vintage ascetics with the focal point of the space holding a striking set of large emerald green tufted sofas. The overall feel is a nice contrast from the multitudes of basic chain restaurants that surround this establishment.
In an unprecedented move, Hop Social kicked off their “soft” opening weekend by giving away meals! I can confidently speak for all Phoenix area foodies when I say I hope this is a trend that catches on. Hop Social sent out a lunch and dinner invitations offering meals to local residents from 11/16-11/18.
My wife and I were limited to ordering two specific entrees during this soft opening. I went with the Caesar Salad and the BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger. The Caesar Salad was fit for a king. It arrived with ample amounts of shredded Parmesan and house made croutons all coated with a creamy dressing. Now I’ve never had a burger that’s been life changing but this was pretty delicious. The bread was fresh and soft and the beef was juicy and cooked to perfection. The salty thick cut smoky bacon took this decadent sandwich to the next level. The side of coleslaw was so-so, bit bland and uninspired. I would suggest going with the rustic thick cut French fries when it’s your turn to choose a side.
The most difficult choice of the night was picking a drink. With 52 craft beers on tap this was somewhat of a weighty decision process. With the word “hop” in the name I anticipated this dilemma. Fortunately with beers like Tower Station (by Mother Road Brewing) and Papago Orange Blossom (by Papago Brewing Co) you can’t go wrong.
Hop Social also hosts happy hour twice a day 7 days a week! With an extensive beer list, eclectic and reasonably priced food menu and prime location Hop Social will be a welcomed addition to Chandler Boulevard.
-AZ Survival Guide
In 2013 I took my first tip to Arizona. I knew very little about the extreme desert heat or the rapidly expanding microbrew scene. SanTan Brewery was the first of many beer establishments I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. Located in the heart of downtown Chandler, SanTan is one of the city’s oldest and most popular brewery. They opened their doors in 2007 and have been serving great food and beer ever since.
The brewery resides in a space that was once a bank. The teller lines and safe deposit boxes have long ago been moved aside to make room for the floor to ceiling stainless steel fermenters and all the other needed equipment necessary for a fully functioning brewery. A single industrial vault door is the one hint that this brewery was once a financial institution.
SanTan’s beers can be found all throughout the valley. You will be hard pressed to find a bar or supermarket in the valley that does not care one of their offerings.
Food is one of the elements that sets this brewery apart from its many competitors. The menu is comprised of a balanced mix of your standard pub fare along with some of the best Southwest dishes in the area. SanTan prides themselves on utilizing the best local ingredients.
On my most recent visit, I went with a pint of their flagship beer – Devil’s Ale. This delicious American Pale Ale is served ice cold in the heaviest pint glass ever manufactured (maybe.) In the twilight of the spacious patio this beer appeared to have a hazy dark amber maroon hue. It is characterized by sweet citrus piney aromas and a caramel malt flavor. This well-balanced beer weighs in at 5.5% ABV and is a crowd favorite for sure.
*other notable offerings
Mr. Pineapple – super popular seasonal wheat beer. Try it mixed in their Vacation in a Glass cocktail
Moon Juice IPA / with Grapefruit makes it even better
Hop Shock IPA
Unfortunately, the secret is out on this establishment. Anticipate a bit of a wait for table on a weekend night. But if some quality craft Beer, great service and delicious food is what you seek, you can definitely bank on SanTan Brewery.
Happy Hour: Monday-Friday 3pm-6pm
Reverse Happy Hour: Sunday-Thursday 9PM-Close
-AZ Survival Guide
If you are a fan of beer, brats and pretzels dipped in warm creamy delicious beer cheese then you just might want to think about planning a backyard Oktoberfest. An Oktoberfest is a celebration of all things German and is traditionally observed in September or October. These joyous festivals were originally held in Munich, Germany and date back to 1810.
Here are 5 tips to ensure that your Oktoberfest is das beste!
1. Pretzel to Spätzle
The best part of any gathering is great food. The ideal base menus should consist of Bratwursts, warm soft pretzels and potato salad. Baked goods featuring German chocolate make for the perfect dessert.
With so many breweries (domestic and international) offering tasty Oktoberfest and German style beers, I suggest asking your guests to each bring an interesting seasonal 6 pack to the party. This helps stretch your party planning budget and lets you sample a large variety of brews.
3. Dirndl & Lederhosen
Encouraging your party guest to come adorned in traditional German garb will create the perfect European atmosphere and take your get-together to the next level. Lederhosen, Dirndls, and other Oktoberfest themed apparel is readily available on Amazon. I recommend awarding some door prizes for the best dressed.
4. German Themed Cocktail
A German or seasonal cocktail is the perfect party favor to get everyone in the spirit (pun intended.) At our last Oktoberfest we featured a Fireball apple cider Jello shot topped with whipped cream to resemble a small beer. It was sweet and spicy with a lingering hint of smooth whiskey. Needless to say there were no leftovers. Click HERE for this super easy recipe.
5. Hoist a Stein
A traditional stein hoisting competition will be the highlight of your event! Keep the stopwatch rolling as groups of 3 or 4 party goers compete to hold Steins full of beer or water (preferably water, no need to waste beer) on fully extended arms. Make sure you have prizes for the guest with the longest hold time.
If at least 50% of your guests leave the party feeling like they may have torn their rotator cuff then you know that this party game was executed successfully.
Give your basic barbecue das boot! If you are planning a shindig this fall, make it an Oktoberfest! As long as you invite plenty of friends there will be no shortage of good times and laughter at you next Oktoberfest.
-AZ Survival Guide
There are 2 things that are incredibly hard to find in Arizona: good seafood and people that were born and raised here.
That being said, my wife and I (like most Arizonans) make it an annual tradition to escape the summer heat and head back to the place that we call home – Rhode Island. There is no feeling that can compare to returning to a bar or restaurant that you haven’t been to in over a year and having the Wi-Fi on your phone connect automatically. That’s when you truly know you are home!
Rhode Island is a tiny state but there is much to do and no lack of quality seafood. If you find yourself venturing out of the Valley and visiting the smallest state in the US, here is a spot you need to check out.
Matunuck Oyster Bar
The Matunuck Oyster Bar is located in South Kingstown, only 30 minutes from Newport, in a classic beach house style building. This 2 story structure is adorned with weathered grey wooden shingles, large white trimmed windows and sits alongside the picturesque banks of Potter Pound.
In my opinion, this restaurant offers one of the best outdoor dining experiences that Rhode Island has to offer. The concept for Matunuck Oyster Bar is “simple food, fairly priced, fresh products, and making sure everybody leaves happy.”
The Matunuck Oyster Bar literally offers Pond to Plate dining. As you enjoy the mouth-watering selection of New England seafood staples, you can watch the fresh oysters being harvested from the waterfront patio.
The fresh delicious seafood, the beautiful and tranquil seaside ambiance and the quarter-mile proximity to the sandy shores of East Matunuck beach make this a must-visit destination on all of our trips back to the Ocean State.
– AZ Survival Guide
Most restaurants and grocery stores in America only have 2 levels of salsa heat available: mild and medium. If this lack of spice epidemic has got you heated, I’ve got the salsa recipe for you!
I personally feel that the key to a great salsa is limited ingredients and an element of sweet to balance out extreme heat. This simple-to-make salsa checks both of those boxes.
Word of caution- this recipe is not for general consumption. This is specifically targeted towards a segment of the population that looks for words like Atomic, Inferno, and Nuclear on the labels of their hot sauce and salsa. (You’ve been warned!)
10 small / medium habanero peppers
Half of a medium sized tomato (with seeds and liquid removed)
½ cup of baby carrots
Half of a white onion (diced)
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
¼ cup of white vinegar
¼ of water
3 teaspoons of olive oil
*makes roughly 16 oz.
1. Coat saute pan with olive oil and heat to medium
2. Add 1/2 cup of baby carrots to saute pan and cook for 5 minutes
3. Add half a diced white onion and 1 teaspoon of minced garlic to the pan. Saute onions and garlic with carrots for an additional 5 minutes
4. Place sauteed vegetables, habaneros, the juice of one lime, half of one tomato, 1/4 cup of vinegar and 1/4 cup of water into a food processor
5. Blend salsa until you have reached an applesauce like consistency
6. Eat at your own risk
I suggest letting this mixture chill in your refrigerator overnight before eating. This extra time allows all the flavors to combine. This is an extremely easy recipe to make, you really can’t go wrong! But any time you are using real habaneros, spice levels can vary. If you find that the salsa is too hot or too mild, feel free to play with the carrot-to-habanero ratio.
When it comes to application, think outside the box. Don’t limit yourself to just run of the mill tortilla chips… throw a spoonful on a slice of pizza, cheeseburger, fried chicken, salad etc. This is a truly versatile puree that transcends the limits of most standard salsas.
If you are not sweating after consuming a healthy serving of this salsa, then you did something wrong!
-AZ Survival Guide