What was once a three-story department store, is now home to an eccentric lounge for food and fancy cocktails.
Let’s take a journey in a time machine, 70 years back in the heart of downtown Phoenix. Men fixed their ties and women spun circles in a mirror, in hopes of looking grand for a night on the town. Built in 1947, Hanny’s sold only designer brands, specializing in menswear and suits. The structure was revolutionary in architecture to our up and coming Southwestern city. To this day, it is still recognized as the best International Style commercial building in Phoenix.
Adding to its interesting past, the building was set on fire many times for firefighter training after being purchased by the city in the late 80’s.
After several years of revamping, with the help of designer Janis Leonard, and $5 million later, the space showcases a restaurant and bar; a modern artistic twist with touches hinting at its history. On the corner of First Street and Adams, Hanny’s is more than a meal but an entire experience. If you go on a weekend, you might catch a DJ tucked into the walls of the second floor.
A friend of par taste, introduced me to the valleys hidden gem, and I have been a serious recruiter since. The owner, Karl Kopp, a restaurant proprietor in New York and the MidWest, also owns AZ88 in Scottsdale. They opened in March of 1988, and it offers the same warm, artistic flair. The restaurant is conveniently located next to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.
Between the stairwell and working elevator, the old elevator shaft is still in place, with an exhibit of lights and trippy mirrors- even fun without a few drinks. Mannequins have come to life with rhinestones and deer antlers, leather tongue-shaped couches face the windows outside, candle lights flickering. If you make your way down the white walls to a changing of colors and psychedelic ambiance, you’ll find doors with no handles. What were fitting rooms in the late 40’s have been converted into unmarked restroom stalls. There are not many, if any, places you will hear me bragging about the toilet! Seriously, this place makes even the bathroom exciting.
While speaking with a bartender on one of my earliest visits, I got to hear a secret or two about this rocking spot. The owner, Kopp, was gifted a classic, cherry red, prosciutto machine. He placed it in the empty space, and then the entire restaurant was designed around it. Prosciutto is ham cured with salt, originating in Italy by peasants and now enjoyed as a delicacy around the globe. At Hanny’s, it’s perfectly paired by ordering the “bar plate” served with ciabatta bread, sopressata, olives, melon, pistachios, and more. I may or may not eat a bar plate as a meal, and not feel guilty about it for a second.
The menu features cocktails, light eats and just a few more desserts than entrees. They do say there’s a pork chop in every beer, right? Speaking of, the “Pork Milanese” is mouth watering, and that is coming from your typical salad girl. Breaded and fried, a piece of pork is topped with cucumber, radish, sprouts and a lemon butter sauce. For something to pair with a drink, they offer an olive tapenade like bruschetta served on ciabatta bread that rivals an authentic version. If you like bacon, fried egg, and all things delicious, the “Hanny’s Steak” sandwich is a customer favorite.
Another little thing to know about this spot, is you can go casual, too. I have seen people dressed to the nines, all the way to two friends in jeans and t-shirts laughing over a pizza. Offering 9 different thin crust pizzas baked in a 500 degree stone oven with san marzano sauce, choose a classic margherita all the way to a creative “hot honey pepperoni.”
Hanny’s does everything right, especially the cocktails. Their selection of bourbon and scotch is impressive, with a few cognac’s too. I am proud to say this is the place that I tried absinthe first, the liquor most famous by Van Gogh for cutting his own ear off as a gift to a friend while under its spell. I didn’t believe it either, but google proves everything. You can try it as a shot, poured through a sugar cube, or the “absent minded” mixture. With Absinthe Ordinaire, Ricard, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, agave nectar, and bitters- you aren’t likely to need many more drinks! As for wine, they serve a Chilean Merlot with notes of raspberry, sweet spices, and an oak finish.
No matter what you order, they have the right, simple, combination of fresh ingredients to give your taste buds a ride. Beyond the food, it will be an experience you won’t forget. Hanny’s is open for lunch at 11 am on weekdays, and 5 pm on weekends. The kitchen is open until 1 am, making it a rare spot for some wonderful drunk munchies. Drinks pour until 1:30 am. Don’t forget to check out the basement, I’ll let you discover that for yourself!