Care to take a guess as to why the new restaurant on the southeast corner of Rural and Elliot is called Garlic & Shots? If you said, gee, maybe because all the food has garlic in it, and because the place serves lots of shots, well done. Go have a shot.
You’ll have plenty of options from which to choose.
“It’s something new,” says co-owner and manager Mick Hoover. “Obviously all our food has garlic, and we have 101 unique shots.”
A peek inside the menu he brandishes, and you can see he isn’t kidding. The selections are almost as dizzying to read as they would be to drink: shots with names like Your Father’s Moustache, Karaoke Kiss, McGiggle, Fried Brain, Wow, and (Number 99) Juicy Lucy, comprised of vodka, watermelon schnapps, sweet & sour and Sprite. They’re $8 each, for a shaker that offers about four shots.
“It was a great week of my life, but a hard week,” says Hoover of the time spent devising and naming these concoctions.
“The mixologist was tough.”
Probably no drink on the menu, however, is as close to Hoover’s heart as Number One, called the Bloodshot, and made from vodka, spiced tomato juice…and, of course, garlic.
“My late mother, she was a Cordon Bleu chef, and it was her recipe,”Hoover explains. “Very spicy, sort of like a Bloody Mary, but it’s a shot. It will blow you away.” He pours me one, and I gulp it down, bracing for the garlic onslaught. It’s surprisingly zingy and delicious.
Then there’s the food. During my visit, I partook of the Crab Penne, bathed in a garlicky, delightfully textured cheese sauce, with garlic cheese bread on the side. I also sampled the succulent Sirloin Kobe Burger, and the Garlic Pomme Frites—thick french fries tossed in garlic and served with a side of sweet ketchup containing, for variety, garlic.
Mick Hoover and his collaborators didn’t spin this unusual concept out of whole cloth. Garlic & Shots Tempe is the first U.S. location of a small chain found in such European towns as London and Stockholm—the overseas website is startlingly aggressive in its zealotry where garlic is concerned:
“No dishes are served without garlic. You can always order extra garlic, but never less. As you leave the restaurant you should feel like you’ve been garlic marinated. This is our mission from God.”
“My Dad opened a bar in Mykonos, Greece,” says Hoover, “Called Bar Uno, because we played a lot of Uno. We met these guys who ran the Garlic & Shots in London, and we franchised the name for the U.S.”
Despite its international origins, however, Hoover makes it clear that his location is very much a local establishment. He proudly notes that he’s a fourth-generation Arizonan (his daughter makes a fifth generation) and that he intends Garlic and Shots to be rooted in the community; he tells me, for instance, that proceeds from sales of their signature drink the Bloodshot will go to local charities, in his mother’s honor.
I greatly enjoyed Garlic and Shots, but I would offer one bit of advice: If you go on a date there for dinner, especially a first date, some breath mints might be in order.
On the other hand, if your date turns out to be a vampire, you should be well protected.
Garlic & Shots — 909 E. Elliot Road, southeast corner Rural & Elliot, Tempe. Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.; Sundays, 11 a.m.-midnight. Closed Mondays. Information: 480-588-8128.