Twin Peaks Camelback raises the bar on beer and grub
By Bill Tybur
AS A TYPICAL AMERICAN MALE I consider myself an expert at what makes a great sports bar: Good food, lots of TVs tuned to every game or event possible, cold beer, a full bar and everything served up by gorgeous and friendly female staff. Décor is important too but not enough to dissuade patronage if the grub, booze and flat-screen inventory are firing on all cylinders. Checks all-around at Twin Peaks Camelback.
Opened in 2013 and owned by Andy Bayless and Carolyn Vangelos, Twin Peaks Camelback presents a rustic mountain lodge theme, the inside walls resembling square-cut logs with thick chinking in between. Wood is everywhere and game trophies, bows and arrows, fishing, trapping and hunting gear and other manly, outdoor-adventure decorations abound. The lamps are made from antlers and there are posters and prints everywhere promoting sports, adult beverages and the female form.
Which brings us to the waitresses. Twin Peaks girls wear snug, red plaid tops in the vein of old Paul Bunyan with tiny khaki shorts, which would make his blue ox blush, and hiking boots. Every girl on the floor is a 10 in both looks and personality. On my last visit our server’s name, honest to goodness, was Destiny. She was a nice, pretty, engaging and accommodating food service professional who didn’t hesitate to pull up a chair and talk, sharing menu suggestions, answering questions and making us feel very much at home and welcomed; we liked Destiny a lot. The cuisine collection is just what guys want. Twin Peaks Camelback offers all the most popular appetizers; our favorite was the Pulled Pork Sliders with moist, shredded meat packed high on a larger than expected bun topped with crisp, fresh homemade coleslaw and a pickle. They offer burgers, tacos, sandwiches, chili, soups and salads. I recommend the Texas-style Philly Cheesesteak with jalapeño peppers, queso and pico de gallo. At Destiny’s suggestion we ordered the Trophy Trout, Mom’s Pot Roast and Green Chile Meat Loaf for dinner and then sat back to enjoy a football game among fellow sports fans doing what we all do best: drinking, enjoying the view and cheering on our favorite teams.
The liquor shelf holds all of one’s favorite bourbon, scotch and vodka brands plus a number of signature drinks, wines, and, of course, for the manly men, shots. I mention this only because of The Shotski, a snow ski with four holes spaced body width apart, each a receptacle for a filled shot glass. The drill was simple and fun; four guests line up shoulder to shoulder and two girls tip the ski to empty the shots into waiting mouths. And what does one chase a shot with? A cold beer. Cold as in 29-degrees Fahrenheit as displayed on a large LED sign near the bar. Beer so cold that by the time a mug arrives at the table, ice has formed at the top, and the beer menu includes America’s most popular labels plus a few of the craft-type brews for those who prefer something more stout. While enjoying our libations we noticed how many TVs there are at Twin Peaks Camelback: 75 flats screens for 300 guests. We were seated at a high top table on the floor, with huge HD monitors everywhere we looked. Booths have their own TVs that can be tuned to whatever game the table chooses. Most of the guests were watching Thursday night NFL football. The crowd was fun and friendly with light-hearted insults tossed freely between tables, depending upon how the games were going.
When Carolyn, the owner, came over to say hello I asked her what the place was like on Saturdays and Sundays. “Weekend’s are all-day parties,” she said. “We open at 9 a.m. on Saturday for the college fans and at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday and we serve a brunch menu until 2 p.m. with breakfast tacos, bacon or steak and eggs and more, plus Bloody Marys and Mimosas for $3 until Noon. Football fans won’t find a better place to watch football.” The Trophy Trout was grilled to perfection, tender and moist with garlic lime butter plus homemade mashed potatoes and sautéed zucchini, squash and carrots. Mom’s Pot Roast, served in a cast iron boat with made-from-scratch gravy and roasted potatoes, green beans and carrots mixed with bacon, onions and corn was to die for. Our favorite though, was the Green Chile Meatloaf with mushroom gravy, sautéed broccoli and a side of macaroni and cheese with bacon bits. The meatloaf is made from freshly ground beef, thickly sliced, slow-baked and then grilled with green chilies, ketchup and caramelized onions. Delicioso.
“All of our food is freshly prepared; nothing is frozen,” added Vangelos. “We use the best local produce we can find and really pride ourselves on the quality of everything we serve.” I had to concur. The food quality was great. When we first sat down at our table I noticed the salt and pepper shakers were actually sugar, cinnamon or confectioner’s sugar shakers like you’d find in a bakery. And throughout our meal we never reached for either; our dinners needed nothing except knives and forks. Twin Peaks Camelback may be the best variation on the sports bar that I’ve come across. They’re constantly keeping things fun and strongly support the community.
For instance, the “Bra-Tacular” event they held in October with the girls trading their Bunyan tops for bikini tops as part of a promotion to benefit local Breast Cancer foundations. “We do theme events all year,” Vangelos said. “For Black Friday before Thanksgiving the girls wear black lingerie, for Christmas they’re all dressed like Santa’s Little Helpers. In December we’re hosting a Cross Fit Competition in the parking lot to benefit the United Phoenix Firefighter Association.” Before we left I had to ask one more question: How and why are all the waitresses so, so perfect? Carolyn laughed. “For one thing,” she said, “Our waitresses are here to make sure the customers have a great time; That’s all. They don’t fill salt shakers or ketchup bottles or do any other side jobs. They like that. We also help them out with discounts to health clubs and tanning salons. The main thing is, happy employees make happy customers and that’s what we’re committed to.” And as we were leaving one of my companions unashamedly made a reference to one of the greatest sports movies of all time, “Field of Dreams,” asking no one in particular, “Is this heaven?” At Twin Peaks Camelback, most sports bar aficionados would have to say, “Yes.”
Twin Peaks Camelback
2135 E. Camelback Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85016