BY KEN LAFAVE
There’s no secret to a sports bar: a long, accommodating bar loaded with premium liquors and staffed with friendly servers, plus plenty of screens positioned over tables and booths for easy viewing. The secret to a great sports bar, however, is the food.
It’s not that the items on the menu at Blue 32 Sports Grill don’t offer any surprises: burgers, tacos, salads and wraps are the usual casual fare, with steaks and seafood offering a higher-end option. The freshness of the ingredients and the quality of preparation are what put Blue 32 ahead in the race for sports bar excellence.
Blue 32 is a locally owned sports bar and grill with four locations. The Chandler location is a bright and open space good for lunching/dining as well as watching five different games at the same time.
Let us praise the Black and Blue 32 Burger ($12.49), a hamburger with a patina of potent Cajun seasoning, plus blue cheese crumbles and bacon. To be “blackened,” a meat must receive a combination of black pepper, paprika, onion and garlic powders, cayenne, basil and oregano. Each combination differs in proportions, and to judge from the extra heat of Blue 32’s version, we’d guess their combo is long on the cayenne. Don’t order this one if you dislike the sensation of lips that burn just a little for 20 minutes after eating. But if heat enhances your palate, go for it. The bacon and the blue cheese soften the heat enough to bring out the other spices.
For still more heat, try the Hot Texas Burger with jalapeños ($12.49), or for something more traditional, there’s an old-fashioned patty melt with thousand island dressing on rye ($11.29).
Another kind of heat, the outdoor kind, augurs the start of salad weather. Blue 32 features a Southwest Chicken ($11.99) served with the chicken, jack and cheddar cheeses, avocado, black beans, pico de gallo, corn and tortilla strips discrete in the bowl and awaiting your toss under chipotle ranch dressing.
At the high end, Blue 32 cuts its own steaks, including both sirloin (8 ounces, $13.79) and two sizes of rib-eye (10 ounces for $16.99, 16 ounces for $19.99).
At the bar, from the draft beer selections, choose Orange Blossom for refreshment or the Hop Knot IPA if you’re a hops lover. Margaritas include a sweet-tooth Chambord Meltdown, with the raspberry liqueur floating on top, or the more serious tequila-lover’s White Lightning Margarita, featuring Herradura Silver.
Desserts, generally avoidable at sports bars, includes a not-to-be-avoided brownie with vanilla ice cream. (It’s not on the menu; ask for it.)