Steals on meals: Tempe's House of Tricks

Each week reporter Tanner Stechnij explores some of the affordable options for local eateries around campus so that even college students can feel luxurious.

Located right off of the Tempe campus, House of Tricks serves as more than just a restaurant, but an oasis. Leafy foliage and pristine white napkins are characteristic of the quiet and relaxed, family owned bistro.

When I visited, it was a gorgeous, sunny Arizona day so I sat at the outdoor bar, which was connected to the wooden deck. The green shrubbery and trees kept the outdoor seating cool, shady and peacefully sedated.

House of Tricks calls its iteration of happy hour “Hours of Tranquility,” which is appropriate. The other eaters at the bar were all 30-somethings, quietly enjoying each other’s company. However, I never felt out of place enjoying a snack by myself because the waitstaff were friendly and engaging.

The restaurant offers its “Hours of Tranquility” menu from 4 to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. During these hours, wine and beer prices are lowered and the restaurant offers a menu that is slightly different than its usual lunch and dinner menus. Like most happy hours, House of Tricks offers bar food, but with an upscale twist.

The menu is small but offers a wide variety of snack food, which encourages sharing among friends. The food ranges from toasted almonds and candied cashews to beef tacos and chicken wings, and all of these items are garnished to appeal to a complex palette.

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I was immediately drawn to the spinach, roasted green chili and artichoke dip, which came with water crackers and toasted baguette. The bartender seemed busy preparing for the dinner rush, but I was relaxed and in no hurry. In fact, the patio is so homey and serene that restaurant owners Robert and Robin Trick’s cats even paid a visit.

When the food came, I was stoked to dig in, but I was distracted by the careful presentation — the crackers were stacked, perfectly in line, and the baguette slices were placed alternating horizontally and vertically.

Even better than the presentation was the taste of the artichoke dip, a favorite appetizer of mine. It was warm and cheesy with a little bit of spice. All of the chopped vegetables were well prepared and delicious. Even the proportions were generous, I was eating on an empty stomach and was able to bring some home to my friends.

Even though House of Tricks is upscale dining, I didn’t break the bank for the snack. The restaurant intentionally lowers its prices for its happy hour with nothing on the menu costing more than $10. The artichoke dip was only $9, so I came away from the afternoon only $12 poorer.

Next time I visit House of Tricks I will be sure to bring some friends so I can get a better sample of the menu and the atmosphere. It is located at 114 E 7th St., Tempe.

Related Links:

Steals on meals: Downtown Phoenix's Taco Guild

Champagne taste, beer budget: The Clever Koi upgrades a college staple

Reach the reporter at or follow @tannerstechnij on Twitter.

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