Sometimes you aren’t looking for a culinary exploration or introduction to new fare. Instead, what you really want is comfort food or more simple things done right. I found that place and was honestly surprised at my experience. Tucked away in a corner on Mill and between 3rd and 4th ST is Blasted Barley. I initially thought it was just going to be a college dive bar with mediocre food but instead I found a really enjoyable and varied menu.
I haven’t even tried their beer yet so I may have found a cool hang out but let’s focus on the food for now. I have to start with the “House-made Mozzarella Sticks” that comes with marinara and ranch for dipping. These things are fantastic. No frozen sticks with some empty shells here, instead you will get fresh thick mozzarella breaded with herbs that really give it a special something. I’ve become a cheese curd snob lately but these are hands down my favorite when I want the original. Even better is that they are on the happy hour menu so I know where my next happy hour is going to be. The dipping sauces aren’t actually needed and honestly they are nothing to write home about but they work and you’ll want to use them sparingly because there is just no need for them, these sticks are just that good.
Moving on to entrees, my first visit I had the “Good Life Burger” and indeed it lives up to its name. On a pretzel bun comes blue &brie cheeses, truffle aioli, bacon jam, lettuce, & tomato. It was big and it was tasty and I took ½ of it home because among the options for a side you can get tater tots. Anyone who has read any of my articles knows I have a weakness for the tots and really they just go well with a burger. I would recommend telling them to cook it medium though as they default to medium well and that is just too well for my tastes. There are many different burger combos all worth tasting in my book, my partner got the “Blasted Veggie Burger” and had only positive things to say about it. So much so, that even this meat eater is going to give it a try.
On my second visit I opted for the healthier “Blasted Chop” which comes with the normal chop salad items like raisins, corn, tomatoes, avocado, turkey, pepitas, and arugula. Now I can’t remember exactly but I believe quinoa isn’t normally in a chop and they included it in theirs. It’s a great protein add and with the popularity of Quinoa it didn’t surprise me. The real differentiator though is the Goat Cheese Vinaigrette. Admittedly you have to like goat cheese to like this but it was unique and it really stood out but not too much. The sweet raisins mellowed the tartness of the cheese and it really came together in each and every bite.
There are many more things I would like to try on their menu and they seem to have really great brunch and happy hour deals. Now that the weather is getting nice you can go outside and enjoy their patio while drinking mimosas or bloody marys. It’s a friendly and relaxed restaurant that is clearly used to dealing with the college crowd but if you live in Tempe or along the light rail and are looking for a place to chill out and enjoy good classic food and maybe a craft cocktail or freshly brewed beer this may just be the place you are looking for.
Read our Listing on this restaurant now.