With so many new breweries and tap houses emerging throughout Downtown Phoenix and adjacent neighborhoods, it’s hard to believe it was once hard to find a wide selection of craft beer in the center of the city. Nevertheless, that was the case as recently as 2012 when Angels Trumpet opened in Evans Churchill. Angels Trumpet is not a brewery, and it’s not really a pub either. It identifies as an alehouse and offers a larger space and beer selection than most pubs. Most importantly, it was a harbinger of an emerging craft beer culture that is now taking hold.
The ale house is situated toward the north end of Downtown Phoenix just three blocks from the Roosevelt / Central light rail station. If the relatively small signs make it difficult to find the place, look for the colorful mural painted on the building’s south wall, next to what is currently a vacant lot. There are several rows of bike racks directly outside on Second Street, although those amenities would be even nicer if staff and clientele 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 at peak times. At less hectic times such as 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 chalkboards, 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 be a few cutting edges 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 enjoy 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 or bangers-and-mash 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 taquitos, which are fried tortillas filled with mashed sweet potatoes, roasted corn, green chilies, and Chihuahua cheese. The taquitos are paired with salsa verde, and pesto, an unexpected but satisfying condiment.
Salads aren’t typically a big part of a pub grub menu, but Angels Trumpet offers two hearty ones. The BBQ salad is slightly Southwestern. A bed of greens is topped with tortilla strips, julienne carrots, sliced onions, smoked mozzarella, and pinto beans. Grilled chicken is added by default but can be replaced with turkey or brisket on request. In the Avocado Salad, the greens are topped with goat cheese, beets, grapefruit, and an entire specimen of the dish’s namesake fruit. This salad is meatless unless a protein choice is added for an extra charge.
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 BBQ Brisket Grilled Cheese is more meat than dairy, but it’s a satisfying choice, served like all the others with a choice of skin-on fries, coleslaw, or a side salad. The 810 is a smoked turkey sandwich enlivened with bacon, avocado, pickled red onions, and adobo sauce.
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 a “secret sauce” much like a remoulade. The toasted tortillas gives these tacos a sturdy structure. Pizza flatbreads come sized for one hungry person or two to share. Most involve smoked or cured meats, although two — the Farm and the Fun-Guy — feature assortments of meastless toppings. For dessert, house-made “pop tarts” come in changing seasonal flavors.
While there are always a few specials on a menu insert, the most interesting dishes are served on Tuesdays. After taking Monday off, Angels Trumpet begins its week with a retro TV Dinner. Each week’s offering is announced in advance via the restaurant’s website and Facebook page. When customers are seated, an empty tray with multiple partitions is provided along with the menu. Handwritten notes in each compartment advertise what’s served inside, usually entrees such as Thanksgiving turkey or chicken enchiladas paired with sides and dessert.
With a lot more beer to be found nearby, Angels Trumpet may face a more competitive environment than before. At the same time, the owners have diverged from some of their neighbors on contentious issues such as a proposed business improvement district and a residential tower that would fill the vacant lot next door. Whether these developments eventually make Angels Trumpet less of a destination remains to be seen. At this point, a rising tide of craft beer in Downtown Phoenix seems to be lifting all boats, including one of the first to arrive there.
810 N. 2nd St., Phoenix AZ 85004