In the past few years, it seems that Phoenix, like cities around the country, has been in the midst of a cocktail craze. The result has been a renaissance of classic drinks artfully prepared and creative cocktails that find new ways to blend ingredients in previously untried combinations. With so much emphasis on mixed drinks, as enjoyable as they are, it’s easy to wonder where to go to enjoy the simple pleasures of beer and wine. At the Whining Pig, a bar recently opened at the Collier Center, the emphasis is wholly on wine and beer, with a little food on the side.
The Whining Pig’s location in Downtown Phoenix is the newest addition to the bar’s lineup of locations around the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. Despite an address on Washington Street, the entrance is on Second Street, just a few steps south of the Washington / Third Street (westbound) platform and two blocks from the Jefferson / Third Street (eastbound) platform. A bike rack is found nearby outside a small cluster of restaurants facing Second Street. The bar opens at 1 PM, making it viable for late lunch, but it reaches its peak popularity in the evening.
The space is informal, feeling more like a pub than a lounge. An U-shaped bar topped with pennies provides much of the seating, but some small tables are found in a darker, more private corner. Board games abound, and the chalkboards on the walls are sometimes used for events like a hangman contest. Other chalkboards are used as menus. The wall farthest from the entrance lists 37 beers on tap. The board by the bar lists wines and beers sold in bottles and cans. Finally, a board opposite the bar displays the small, simple food menu.
While the beer and wine choices are abundant, the food selection is deliberately compact. To drink, customers can find almost any style of wine or craft beer, as well as a variety of meads from Superstition Meadery, including playful flavors such as Peanut Butter Jelly Crime. To eat, bar patrons will find a limited array of foods easily prepared by bartenders, rather than a wide spectrum of offerings designed for a full kitchen. Specifically, that means choosing from five varieties of grilled cheese sandwiches and a simple meat-and-cheese plate.
The sandwiches mix cheeses and other fillings in thematic combinations corresponding to a symbol. The Star is a spicy mix of pepperoni, sriracha, cherry peppers, and Italian cheese. The Peace Sign is a meatless sandwich full of pesto, sun-dried tomato, and mozzarella. All are pressed between two slices of white bread and served with a side of ruffled potato chips. Ideal for sharing, the meat and cheese plate combines several types of cured meats with a changing selection of cheeses, along with crackers and servings of of nuts, fruit, and olives.
Aside from a bowl of candy at the bar, the only dessert is a peanut butter brownie, which layers the soft spread between two layers of chocolate. It’s a particularly good match for one of the bar’s stouts, porters, or port wines. To be sure, those who crave cocktails can find some excellent options just a few blocks away, and having all that variety available in the city center is something to celebrate. When the desired experience is beer and wine, along with a little hearty food, then the Whining Pig is a straightforward, unpretentious place to find all three.
201 E. Washington St. #104, Phoenix AZ 85004
Washington / Third Street (westbound) and Jefferson / Third Street (eastbound) stations