Who: The Thirsty Lion Pub and Grill
What: Restaurant and Bar/Grill
Where: 2000 East Rio Salado Parkway, Suite 1041, Tempe Marketplace, Tempe, AZ
When: Monday-Thursday 11 am-midnight, Friday-Saturday 11 am-1 am, Sunday 11 am-11 pm
Why: I love going to the Thirsty Lion. The decor is cool and industrial, the outside seating is wonderful, there’s a sports bar feel and a restaurant feel and a bar feel, and the food is awesome. They dabble between restaurant delicacies and upgraded bar food. Since I’ve been there many times, I’ll highlight some of my favorite menu items and things about the restaurant in this article for your drooling pleasure.
One of my favorite parts of the Thirsty Lion is there ever changing specials menu. Typically specials menus to me are more expensive and they don’t actually sound all that different from what you can get on the regular menu. This is not the case with the specials at the Thirsty Lion.
Every single one I’ve seen sounds delicious but also fits the theme of the menu. It’s not random fish at a steakhouse or a burger at a nice restaurant or some strange combination of things that would never normally be at that restaurant. The specials menu includes items like the cajun burger, which comes around every so often and is particularly bursting with flavor. It fits with the burger section on their regular menu but brings tastes to the table that the regular burger menu doesn’t offer.
Another example is their salmon. The regular menu has salmon but the specials menu also features salmon on occasion but it’s a different variety of flavors with different sides. A specials menu should enhance the food realm already at the restaurant and not just list items that are boring and should be on the menu already but for some reason the restaurant chose to exclude them. The Thirsty Lion does an excellent job of creating amazing specials that enhances their already great menu.
So let’s talk about a few great menu items. Beer and Cheese soup. The last time I went, the beer and cheese soup was delicious. I wish it was served with bread for dipping though. The cheese really brings out the flavors of the beer and likewise with the beer for the cheese. It’s a great side dish for any meal.
The pulled pork sandwich. The Thirsty Lion’s version of a pulled pork sandwich is a more polished version than I typically see. The pulled pork is placed on a ciabatta bread with garlic alioli slathered on and napa coleslaw piled on top. The BBQ sauce is delicious and the pork is hot, soft, and has that smoky flavor. The coolness and flavor in the coleslaw brings out the BBQ sauce and the pork. The bread adds a lot more than the typical white bun as well.
The cajun burger. This is my favorite of all favorites. It was a special at one point and I think I’ve seen it on the specials menu one other time. It’s spicy and hot and full of all the cajun seasonings you could ever want. It has cheese and crunch and medium-cooked beef. You can get fries or a side salad. I definitely recommend the side salad. Their cesar salad is served in a chilled bowl with croutons and parmesan cheese. And the healthy option of a salad will help ease the feeling of ordering a big burger. The hot burger mixing with the cold salad is a combination I really enjoy. Hopefully, the cajun burger will be back soon but in the mean time, any of their other burgers are excellent as well.
This restaurant is not all about greasy bar food. Even though their menu contains a lot of bar food goodies, their are sophisticated choices as well. The have grilled atlantic salmon, beef tenderloin, kung pao chicken, baja fish tacos, and even filet mignon! There is a choice for every palette at this restaurant.
Remember, just because there’s a bar in the restaurant, doesn’t mean the restaurant is a bar. The do serve great beers though and have 52 on tap. I’m a big fan of Shiner Bock, Newcastle, and Hoegaarden (pronounced Who-Garden). Hoegaarden is one of my absolute favorite beers and I think more restaurants should serve it. It’s light, clean, and wheaty. Perfect for summer also. Whether you’re looking for a filling meal, a delicious dinner, or a great beer, the Thirsty Lion will deliver on all your stomach’s requests.