Posted: Friday December 30, 2005 5:57PM; Updated: Friday December 30, 2005 8:21PM
1. Josh and Marci's house:
Josh and Marci: "The best-looking couple old enough to be president."
Josh and Marci are not only the best-looking couple old enough to be president I know (see photo), but they serve a mean margarita at great prices. Women drink free here. So do their dates.
Josh and Marci live about seven miles south of Sun Devil Stadium in a town called Ahwatukee, an Apache word that means "upscale subdivision that did not exist fifteen years ago." Actually, half of Phoenix is Ahwatukee if you look at it that way.
Anyway, what makes Josh and Marci's margaritas so yummy, besides the price, is that they cut them with Tecate beer. Softens the blow a little. And you won't find a more tastefully decorated home anywhere.
Margarita: 4 limes Atmosphere: 4 limes
2. Dos Gringos Trailer Park, 1001 E. Eighth Street, Tempe
Dos Gringos serves a house margarita, but I advise you upgrade to the Cadillac margarita. It tastes as if they've sprinkled some orange juice in the libation. You and Anita Bryant will both be glad they did.
Dos Gringos is located right behind a popular neighborhood of Arizona State off-campus apartments that has long been known as "Sin City." The exterior of the joint looks like a Spanish mission, but once you step inside you'll notice that they've raised (or "razed") the roof. Dos Gringos, like many of the female sunbathers in Sin City, is topless.
Margarita: 4 limes Atmosphere: 4 limes
3. Z Tejas, 20 W. Sixth Street
A popular chain, Z Tejas is a great place to take a date or wear a collared shirt to. It's the kind of place where you'll find guys my age sporting pressed golf shirts and cell phones attached to their belts (please, someone, anyone, bludgeon me with Texas Tech's playbook if I ever sport that look) looking for the ladies.
Z Tejas appears to have the same philosophy about serving margaritas that saloon-keeper Martini (talk about fate picking you) did in It's A Wonderful Life: "We serve hard drinks in here for men who want to get drunk fast." It's not that Z Tejas is a dive bar. Far from it. It's downright spiffy. Z Tejas is classier than Ron Burgundy's wildest dreams for San Diego.
But they do serve a strong margarita, and in lots of varieties. I was advised to try the "Chambord Margarita," which comes frozen. It's very pretty to look at, but a little too sweet and feminine for my tastes. The appletini of margaritas, if you will. Fellow tour-goer Don, who has two sons playing college football at the University of Redlands, recommended the "Hard Day Rita," which is not only a fine alternative but I believe two Beatles songs in one.
Margarita: Chambord, 2 limes; Hard Day Rita, 3 limes Atmosphere: 3 limes
4. Margarita Rocks, 410 S. Mill Ave.
We should have known better. If the dizzying number of bouncers out front and the promise of a "wet T-shirt contest" later that evening did not give it away, the $2 margaritas should have. I haven't sampled anything this cloyingly sweet since my nieces made me watch "Barney the Dinosaur."
Speaking of dinosaurs, I felt like one just being there. Margarita Rocks is the kind of place where, if you're old enough to get in without a fake ID, you're too old to be there. But if you're 19 and your parents bought you, ahem, mammary enhancements as a high school graduation gift and you're looking to win $350, this is the place for you.
Margaritas: 1/2 limon (not even a lime) Atmosphere: one lime
5. The Library, 501 S. Mill Ave.
I once took a summer school course at Arizona State and, even though I was raised here, was in awe of the buff bods that were ubiquitous there. I remember asking my older brother, a Sun Devil alum, how he ever got any studying done. "Well, Seed," he answered, invoking my family nickname, "that's why I spent five-and-a-half years there."
Which is to say that although The Library is a saloon, it probably gets as much ASU undergrad traffic as the Hayden Library on campus. After our Margarita Rocks experience, no one in our party was searching for their lost shaker of salt. Water sounded great. Plus, we just wanted to soak up the atmosphere. The Library is a comfy, cozy, casual joint located on Mill Avenue's most popular corner. It sits below a Hooters, and I'm sure there's a joke there if I try hard enough, but I just don't feel like it. The Library's gimmick, besides bookshelves, is that its barmaids dress like the babe in Warrant's Cherry Pie video. You know, plaid skirts, knee socks, and belly-baring tops. Just like all the girls you attended Catholic school with. Right? Perfect for Domers visiting from the Chicago area.
Margarita: Incomplete Atmosphere: 4 limes
6. Greasy Tony's, 921 E. University Drive
Not a saloon, but the ideal place to visit after a pub crawl. Greasy Tony's is a 2 a.m. Tempe treasure. Onion rings to die for, and one of the few places in Phoenix advertising New York-style pizza (actually, Tony, who's from Trenton, claims it's "New Jersey-style") that knows what it's talking about.
The décor hasn't changed in more than a decade, with the exception of one photo added this week. Seems that a somewhat more famous Tony from the Garden State stopped in here earlier this week for a bite. Tony Soprano. Yup, there's a photo of Greasy Tony standing with James Gandolfini, who was in town this week to cheer on his alma mater (Rutgers, which played in the Insight Bowl).
And, yes, in case you're wondering, A.J., Greasy Tony's does have #$%* ziti.