Recreo in downtown Chandler is now in session, tucked away in the restaurant and retail strip center flanked by Buffalo Street and Boston Street on Arizona Avenue. Guests won’t mind “going back to school” a la the most imaginative and delicious restaurant and bar that carries a school playground and recess theme all year round. Appropriately, Recreo means “recess” in Spanish.
You’ll know what fun you’re looking forward to as soon as you see the massive wall at Recreo’s hostess stand with 63 fully functional Etch A Sketch screens. Recreo offers some of the most creative recipes that take childhood favorites to a more grown-up level, and with some unexpectedly delicious culinary twists.
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Every appetizer on the menu is worth trying as the recipes and flavor profiles developed by the kitchen team show incredible attention to detail. In fact, every kitchen staff is welcome to bring their menu ideas to the table, and that’s how some of the tastiest things end up on the Recreo menu.
Before discovering the food, check out the cocktails and mocktails. On the playground you can play mild or wild. Who doesn’t love a Dole whip? The popular signature drink, made with pineapple and magic and served in Disney homes, has been reimagined at Recreo. It can be served as your favorite childhood drink to remember, or a slightly more sinful version with Mailbu rum, vodka, gin, or pretty much anything else you fancy.
A variety of margaritas ($10 to $11) are also available frozen or on ice, including cucumber mint, strawberry, mango, prickly pear, peach, or blueberry jalapeno. All beers at Recreo are local and there is also a generous wine selection on the menu.
If you eat nothing else at Recreo, don’t leave without one of the craziest appetizers — the Monkey Fries ($9.99). The super thick cut twisted fries are kissed with sweet chilli dust. The ketchup is delicately blended with real mashed bananas, creating one of the most unique appetizers imaginable. Go back to your childhood where your taste buds had a level playing field and your taste buds will embrace this tasty and fun concoction.
The Shrimp & Crostini ($17.99) is another appetizer that’s easy to share. The incredibly tender large prawns are bathed in a tangy lemon basil white wine sauce, served atop sourdough crostini that’s a perfect blend of soft and crunchy. Other notable appetizers include the Crispy Artichoke Hearts ($10.99) and Hummus Flower ($11.99), which features a savory homemade hummus, hibiscus blossoms, and microgreens arranged in a flower shape and served with endive and sourdough crostini.
Dive into classics like the Recreo Cheeseburger ($15.99), Recess Salad ($15.99), The Grilled Cheese ($13.99), or the Bacon Hot Burger ($16.99) that’s so full Spice is that he was named twice. The star of the Classics menu is the Fried Georgia Peach ($15.99), a massive crispy chicken breast with smoked Gouda cheese, caramelized peach glaze, lemon mascarpone and arugula on a soft potato bun. Am I allowed to say that? This is one of the best and most unique crispy chicken sandwiches in the Valley.
Great appetizers include Shrimp Alfredo ($23.99), Brussel Bowl ($6.99), and Ribeye-N-Mac ($16.99) with seared ribeye, garlic and shallots, cavatappi and three cheeses, and gorgonzola, Fresno -Chile, red onion, balsamic glaze, fried leeks and micro greens. This is definitely not your kid’s mac-n-cheese, and you’ll love every last bite.
The Recreo includes front patio seating with roll-up garage doors opening onto the main restaurant, as well as a rear patio “playground” with sofas and tables, a staffed bar and hanging rope swing seats, a connect-four board, a ping-pong table, a cornhole and more the back end of a real school bus. Check out the clever way a repurposed shipping container has been hung over the back patio area to provide shade and a playful design touch. Even better, Recreo has its own garden in the back, where ingredients like mint, coriander, and turmeric are grown for use in the restaurant.
Like any cool school, special things happen at Recreo every day. Any night, you’ll likely find bartender Tom dancing or shaking out his groove thing to songs by Britney Spears and Kylie Minogue. There are cocktails and entrees daily, so check the chalkboard next to the bar.
There is live music on Saturday and Sunday from 1pm to 4pm and a DJ on Friday and Saturday from 7pm to 11pm
Recreo joins in by celebrating Shark Week July 24-31 with Margaritas and Palomas ($7), Hammerhead Punch, Blood in the Water and other themed cocktails ($7-12).
Switch to Recreo to enjoy only your fondest memories of life on the playground.
Location: 28 S. San Marcos Place, Chandler
Hours: Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday 11am-10pm, Friday-Saturday 11am-12am, Monday and Tuesday closed