Every Super Bowl has its memorable commercials, and during the broadcast of the recent 49th NFL championship game, Budweiser manage to annoy some craft beer aficionados with its “brewed the hard way” ad. The 60-second spot poked fun at hipsters fussing over “pumpkin peach ale” and taking beer too seriously. Instead of wasting time being mad at the behemoth brewer, Phoenix craft beer fans can simply refute the stereotype by enjoying good beer, and food designed to pair with it, in the unfussy atmosphere found at Angels Trumpet Ale House.
The pub, now about two-and-a-half years old, is situated toward the north end of Downtown Phoenix just three blocks from the Roosevelt / Central light rail station. Look for the colorful mural on the building’s south wall if the relatively small signs make it difficult to find the place. There are several rows of bike racks directly outside on Second Street, although those amenities would be even nicer if kitchen staff didn’t take their smoke breaks there. That blemish aside, Angels Trumpet is an attractive, airy, and open place suitable for family dining.
There’s a host station that is staffed only at peak times. At other hours, such as the recently added weekday lunch service, customers seat themselves. There a long L-shaped bar, a dining room, and an expansive rear patio with cornhole and other outdoor attractions. Service can be irregular during busy times, so a little patience is in order during First Fridays and similar events. Beer choices available via 31 taps are displayed on two chalk boards, one inside and the other on the patio. If they’re hard to see, download the TapHunter smartphone app for an updated list.
The emphasis is on smaller breweries from all over the country, as well as some less common imports. There may very well be some hipster-ish brews, but Angels Trumpet also offers plenty of straightforward pale ales, lagers, porters, stouts, and pilsners, all served in glassware matched to the style of beer. To sample several, ask for a flight of six small pours, all cleverly served in small glasses that are then brought to the table in a muffin tin. For customers who prefer wine, a half dozen selections are available on tap. Look for them on the left side of the board.
The menu at Angels Trumpet is idiosyncratic. It feels like pub food, but avoids the usual standbys such as fish-and-chips and plain burgers in favor of the kitchen’s own slightly offbeat creations. Starters include warm pretzels, which are actually pretzel rolls with sauces based on both tangy Dijon mustard and a beer cheese blend, and spud tacos, which are more like sweet potato empanadas due to the way the fried tortillas close around the mashed filling. The taco-empanadas are paired with pesto for dipping, an unexpected but satisfying condiment.
Salads aren’t typically a big part of a pub grub menu, but Angels Trumpet offers two hearty ones that can be accessorized with a choice of beef, turkey, or chicken. The Caesar Cardini, named for the person claimed to have invented the ubiquitous Caesar salad, has a more varied bed of greens than the usual bowl full of romaine. Otherwise, it’s a good take on a standard with its croutons, dressing, and parmesan cheese. The avocado salad is more complex. The greens are topped with goat cheese, beets, grapefruit, and an entire specimen of the dish’s namesake fruit.
Among the main dishes, there are a few burgers listed under the heading “buns” and a half dozen items classified as “sammy.” The Matador blends brisket with havarti, peppers, onions, and mushrooms; the result is somewhere in between a barbecue sandwich and a cheesesteak. The 810 is a smoked turkey sandwich enlivened with bacon and avocado. The most intriguing is the Nutter, an all-grown-up version of classic PB&J filled with peanut butter made on the premises, raspberry chipotle jam, and banana. Bacon and marshmallow fluff can be added for another level of indulgence.
The Big Guppy taco plate is this pub’s answer to fish-and-chips. There are no fried potatoes involved; instead, generous slabs of battered cod are served within flour tortillas and topped with pico de gallo. The Gaucho tacos are based on brisket paired with ancho mango chutney. The result is a successful mix of smoked, spicy, and tropical tastes. Pizzas come sized for one hungry person or two to share. Most involve smoked or cured meats, although a recent “Late Harvest” special has been a vegetarian blend of sweet potato and spaghetti squash along with more traditional pizza toppings.
While there are always a few specials on a menu insert, the most interesting dishes are served on Tuesdays and Thursdays. After taking Monday off, Angels Trumpet begins its week with a retro TV Dinner. An empty tray is provided along with the menu. Handwritten notes in each compartment advertise what’s served inside, usually entrees such as Thanksgiving turkey or tostadas paired with sides and dessert. Later in the week, Thursday is the night for the red basket special, always a sandwich not available on the regular menu. It’s served with a side of tater tots and dipping sauce.
For dessert, the retro touch continues with pop-tarts containing seasonal fillings. They come two-to-an-order and are drizzled with a vanilla glaze. There’s also a flatbread topped with peanut butter, chocolate, marshmallow fluff, and even pretzels. If those pretzels result in more thirst, there’s always the possibility of more beer — maybe even something fruity like the “pumpkin peach ale” suggested to be the antithesis of proudly macro-brewed Budweiser. Didn’t like the commercial? Exploring new beers, along with food designed to go with them, is probably the best way to respond.
810 N. 2nd St., Phoenix AZ 85004
Roosevelt / Central Station