Phoenix now officially has its very own tourist trap, in the form of Sandbar, a sandpit, cabana-themed Mexican grill, artificially deposited along the East side of I-10 right off Ray Road. There’s no better way to describe it than as a Senor Frogs of Arizona. If you’ve ever been to the Bahamas, you’ll know what I’m talking about – colorful pleather booths, a jam-packed menu full of generic items, a tropical beach-beer decor, and your top 10 mainstream tunes on loop.
While this was what we expected going in, Kim and I decided to give it a shot as it is the newest addition to the East Valley plaza, replacing what was formerly Bahama Breeze during our high school years. Its seasonal interior decorations were actually not too shabby. A 12-foot tall Christmas tree made entirely of empty Dos Equis bottles under a beer bottle stained chandelier greeted patrons at the entrance. The interior bar was lined with festive multi-colored light bulbs set in patron lamp shades.
Unfortunately, the food was not nearly as creative. We shared their bucket of 1/2-pound peel and eat shrimp appetizer which was actually decent except our fingers nearly froze after peeling three of those mega prawns. And it was pretty much downhill from there. We also shared the taco platter, which included a trio of barbacoa, chicken, and fried fish tacos. Each of the mini tacos were extremely bland, to the point where even the rice and beans couldn’t salvage the dish.
That said, I wouldn’t mind going there for drinks. Given the great Phoenix weather, their outdoor cabanas, and access to NFL Sunday Ticket, it’d be a pretty neat place to convene to watch some football. But for food, there are way too many higher quality neighbors just a parking lot away for Sandbar to be considered a viable restaurant.