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Originally Published: March 04, 1999
Author: Donald Downes
Downtown Phoenix's newest eatery is named after the historic baseball hall of fame and legendary rock star Alice Cooper. If you've not guessed, the theme eatery teams up sports and music. If you and your team go for slow-smoked eats, better known as barbecue, take them to Cooper'stown. The barbecue is major-league.
The menu: Alice's has American food, highlighting slow-cooked barbecue. Look for smoked ribs, pork, brisket, corned beef, chicken even meat loaf. Labeled Mega Death Meatloaf, it's a slab that's spent time in the smoker and served with garlic mashed spuds. The menu is an interesting read, featuring such dishes as Welcome to my Nightmare chili, The Big Unit hot dog and Ryne Sandburgers.
The scene: Visually, there's a lot going on. In addition to TVs hanging from nearly every corner and nook, the main dining area complex sports a 16-screen, 32-foot video wall. View one game or a combination of 16 different games or programs. Donated sports and musical memorabilia decorate the restaurant, highlighted by a Fender guitar wall and various autographed sports jerseys, baseballs, footballs and basketballs. Even the floor in the merchandise area has significance; It's the free-throw lane from the 1995 NBA All-Star Game. Guess most everything is for sale these days.
The indoor/outdoor bar has a large outdoor patio, complete with a stage for impromptu "jam" sessions or if Alice happens by and wants to pick a tune or two.
The damage: Starters range from $5.95 to $9.95; sandwiches are $5.95 to $7.95. Main plates are reasonably priced from $6.95 to $15.95.
The recommendation: No use putting off the obvious - you're here for barbecue. Start with Devo's Big City sliders. The lineup features six mini, burgerlike sandwiches. Get all six the same or mix and match the fillings. The pulled pork choice is the best. The meat is rich, lightly smoked and moistened with BBQ sauce. A shredded beef version is dry and thirsty for more 'cue sauce. The basic burger patty is too basic, too bland. Skip it. Continuing with the smoked theme, Alice's revved-up Reuben is aptly titled. The Killer has all the components of a Reuben, only they're jazzed up a bit. The most obvious improvement to the original is the corned beef that's been confined to the smoker for a brief period, giving it an even more intense flavor. Instead of ho-hum sauerkraut, it gets a boost from beer, and stepping in for the original's Russian dressing is a snappy remoulade, the classic French condiment of mayo, mustard, capers and chopped gherkins (tiny French dill pickles). It's a big-league sandwich with two included sides. Choose from fries (super and extra crispy), Coop's cole slaw (a fine version), potato chips or Calico baked beans. The BBQ sampler plate features an all-star line-up of barbecue bests. The carnivore's dream come true comprises two luscious and meaty pork ribs, two good-size slices of moist and delicious smoked turkey (you'll swear it tastes like a fine ham), a spicy link of sausage and several succulent slices carved from a smoked beef brisket. A pair of go-withs rounds out the platter; choose from fries, cole slaw, potato chips baked beans and good-and-garlicky, buttery mashed spuds. Ready for extra innings? Get a dessert. The short dessert roster lists a chocolate, glove-shaped brownie with cinnamon ice cream (designed for a pair of players), an apple crisp, a waffle cone sundae and New York Yankee Cheesecake, which a Yankees-fan friend declared was the only Yankees item found on the premises. She would like to address management about the oversight. The cheesecake? Dense and luscious, it's worth all the extra- consumed calories.
The details: Alice Cooper'stown is at 101 E. Jackson St., Phoenix. They open at 11 a.m. daily. Closing times vary with downtown happenings.