Review: District American Kitchen and Wine Bar


When it comes to community, nobody gives more meaning and vitality to the word than District American Kitchen and Wine Bar. Located in the heart of downtown Phoenix, District elegantly redefines your idea of a friendly neighborhood restaurant with unique twists on innovative American heritage cuisine.

What sets District American Kitchen and Wine apart from other restaurants is not only its ingenious food combinations, but prominent collaborations with a gamut of prestigious local suppliers, farms, and businesses.  This local emphasis pervades every aspect of the restaurant.   From their ever-changing menu to furnishing the wine and spirits collection to the walls decorated with solely local art.  And when I say local, I really mean local.



If your salad, fresh with mixed greens, herbs and assorted veggies, didn’t start in the restaurant’s own rooftop garden, you could trace its origins to Scottsdale based Singh Farms.   Singh Farms actually provided the seedlings to start the restaurant’s rooftop garden, helping them sow it along the way, and eventually composting with them (a privilege extended to only a select few businesses).  All of the District American Kitchen and Wine Bar’s olives and olive oil hail from Queen Creek Olive Mill.  The restaurant actually orders bottles of the olive oil with its own District American Kitchen and Wine Bar label—a perfect gifting idea if you ask me!

With a welcome ambiance, the interior of the restaurant could put just about anyone to ease.  The warm tones, plush seating, yet sleek twist perfectly blend sophistication with comfort offering a feeling that did not extend solely to the decor, but the food as well.

The menu boasts an astonishing variety of food, from American classics, to new twists on American favorites, including delicious vegetarian options.  As the full name implies, it is just as much a wine bar as it is kitchen.  Putting their wine savvy to use, each dinner entrée is paired with a recommended wine, with enough detail to make experts out of all of us.  True to their namesake, the wine, spirits, and alcohol are all American.  Maintaining District’s hyper-local focus, the producers of such are overwhelmingly Arizona natives.

One might say District American Kitchen and Wine Bar’s specialty is wine, but the restaurant’s other spirits rival its impressive wine cellar.  Real estate on the beer list is dominated by the best brews of four of Arizona’s finest micobreweries:  Four Peaks in Tempe, SanTan in Chandler, Nimbus in Tucson, and Oak Creek in Sedona.

A beer snob by nature, I deviated in order to scrutinize the final part of the trio:  the cocktails.  I ordered the Pomegranate Press off their cocktail menu, figuring I’d see if their cocktails lived up to their wine and beer selection.  Lo and behold, the cocktail was delicious.

I followed the server’s suggestions and picked a handful of popular dishes.  First came the infamous Schreiner’s Bacon Wrapped Dates with chive cream cheese and Vermont maple syrup from the appetizer menu.  Schreiner’s, is located off Seventh Avenue in downtown Phoenix and as the name implies, supplies the bacon, the dates are also Arizona-grown, while the chives are fresh cut from the rooftop garden.  I soon found out why these morsels came so highly recommended--sinfully delicious.  These dates of decadence combine sweet and savory in perfect harmony.  The salty bacon and the rich dates balance the sweetness of the maple syrup. If these don’t absolutely warm you up inside, I challenge you to find something that will.



The main course was the acclaimed Pan Seared Scallops with chili corn bread and chorizo. Visually, the scallops were served on top of the corn bread.  So decorative and beautiful, it was difficult to refraining from digging in immediately.  The scallops were perfectly seared and seasoned; too delicious.  I’m committing a crime delicious.  I must confess, I have tasted many over, under, and poorly cooked scallops and am consequently a skeptical scallop fan.  These scallops converted me, for they were cooked to ecstatic perfection.  To complete the ensemble, the chorizo was spicy, sending my taste buds into overdrive.  The cornbread was soft and sweet.



I was equally blown away and stuffed by the bacon-wrapped dates and scallops.  Ironically, my favorite part of the meal was never served to me, but insistently sent home with me in a to-go bag.  District American Kitchen and Wine Bar is known for special in-house made pastries and desserts, which can be readily made and sold to-go and perfect for a quick lunch hour or afternoon pick-me-up.

Among these is the whoopie pie, seasonally offered in different flavors such as pumpkin, chocolate mint, red velvet, and German chocolate cake.  Fortunately, the Triple Chocolate Whoopie Pie found its way home with me. It consisted of two rich, delectable chocolate cookies sandwiching a rich chocolate ganache. Needless to say, the whoopie pie never saw the inside of the refrigerator. A fantastic conclusion to the powerful culinary triad.

My experience was truly memorable and I cannot think of a more communal, yet sophisticated place to eat, gather, and fuel food for your soul.

If you’re looking for a great night out on the town, District American Kitchen and Wine Bar hosts “happy dinner hour” 20% off every Thursday, Friday, and Saturdays from 5-6 p.m. as part of a partnership with the Arizona Theatre Company for its entire show season. The deal includes complimentary three-hour parking, as the Company performs at the Herberger Theater Center across the street.  Perfect for a 5 o’clock dinner and an 8 o’clock show. 



Details are as follows:

District American Kitchen and Wine Bar
3240 North Third Street, Phoenix, AZ 85004
districtrestaurant.com (602) 817-5400

Arizona Theatre Company
Schedule @ arizonatheatre.org
Box Office: (602) 256-6995

 

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