This post is part of a series on my favorite spots in Phoenix. To read the other posts, follow these links: Swansong (Best places in Arizona), Barber Parlor, Phoenix Breweries, Changing Hands / First Draft Book Bar, Bonus Round, Renaissance Hotel, Camelback and Central.
There are some pretty excellent spots tucked away in Phoenix. Out of my time spent in the city, few places genuinely stirred my imagination quite like UnderTow. But to understand UnderTow, you must first understand the place on top of it: Sip Coffee & Beer House.
Sip Coffee & Beer House
The concept for this place is very unique and speaks towards the ingenuity of the owners: They took an old car servicing building and built a coffee and beer place inside of it. They left the doors and one of the drive-through locations so you can actually drive through the restaurant on the far-right to pick up your drink in the morning. The real estate where the cars used to be serviced has been fitted with seats and tables and a small stage on the far side where local musicians can come in and perform. It’s very clever concept, but just a few months after opening, they took it to a whole new level.
This is where the magic is: UnderTow. It’s a tiki bar located directly beneath Sip Coffee & Beer House. What makes it so special, you may ask? Well, remember how Sip is located in an old service garage? Well, in those garages, typically, there’s a level beneath the floor where mechanics can get underneath the car in order to service the undercarriage (if they don’t have elevators to lift them). This place had such a glorious space, so right in the middle of the restaurant is a set of stairs leading down into this pit area. Inside is a dark, atmospheric space where you can order a plethora of strong tiki drinks. The ambiance is magical: They have port holes with looping videos of the ocean sunset, complete with ambient noise coming from the window. As you pass the stairs, lighting effects drape the wall with the sight of sunshine being reflected off of undulating water. The barrels, ropes, support beams, tiki carvings, everything just oozes personality and charm. The drinks are delightful, too! My time there saw me drinking a Oaxacan the Plank, a smoky drink that packs a powerful punch. Another visit I tried the theatrical Smoking Cannon, which includes an oversized chipped ice cube and cinnamon smoke pouring from your glass.
If you’re in Phoenix, head down Indian School Road between 36th and 38th street and check this place out. I can’t recommend it enough!