I love the new face of downtown Tucson—I'm definitely not in the "Keep Tucson Shitty" camp, and while I don't intend for this to turn into a discussion or a diatribe to that regard, I also think it's important that we continue to support our local businesses, business owners and the folks that they employ. For downtown Tucson, that includes an ever-growing number of restaurants and bars, and World of Beer is one of them.
While World of Beer, or "WOB", as they have coined themselves, is a chain, it's a franchise, and the owners and management staff are local folks, and the ambiance of the place blends in well with the new sleek, chic downtown vibe. There is plenty of seating both indoors and out, and the place gets packed, and loud, during peak hours (happy hours, sporting events, etc.).
Appropriately, WOB has beer. Lots and lots of beer. They've got a couple dozen beers on draught that change on a daily basis, and more than 100 by the bottle, some more rare than others. Prices for draught beers range from $5 up to $10 a glass, depending upon rarity, ABV and style, or you can get a flight of four samples for $10. We tried several different styles, and the servers are usually happy to bring you samples of anything you might be unsure of before you commit to drinking an entire glass.
The food is what I would refer to as upscale bar fare—they've got a decent amount of varied choices, from the wedge salad ($7) to "pig wings" ($10, their take on buffalo wings), sandwiches, flatbread pizzas, and chicken and waffles ($8). None of the food we tried was particularly remarkable, but none of it was bad, either.
Some of the portions seem disproportionate to the price, for instance, the German pretzel is $8, and if you want to add a side of "beer cheese" (tinted orange cheese product), it's an additional $1.50. Now, it's a large pretzel, and it's soft, flaky, salty, buttery and delicious; but it seems a bit unreasonable to cough up almost $10 for nothing more than some baked dough served with mustard and "cheese". Especially considering that you can get two little mini flatbread pizzas with various toppings for only $7. We tried the Italian flatbread, which is topped with pepperoni, sausage, cheddar and mozzarella, and found it to be quite tasty, although a little bit on the salty side.
The WOB menu is clearly designed for drinking, as it should be (think lots of carbs to soak up all those suds), and their sandwiches were the highlight of either meal, though again, they were far from spectacular. The brat sliders ($8) were well-balanced, topped with spicy mustard, caramelized onions and peppers, but two of the four sliders barely had any meat on them. The Cuban sandwich ($10) was excellent, stuffed with pulled pork, ham, lots of Swiss cheese and pickles. The only real disappointment, flavor-wise, was the chicken and waffles ($8), which are served like little sandwiches, with two mini waffles surrounding each chicken tender. They were bland, and the waffle-to-chicken ratio was way off (too much bready waffle).
Though WOB's beer selection is excellent, and the food was good, I was disappointed in the service on both visits—especially since it was relatively slow during the times we chose to visit. Our first server didn't seem to know much about beer (seems like a bad choice when you work in a restaurant that exclusively caters to beer fanatics), and she was inattentive and slow in attending to our table. The second server was not only inattentive, she was just basically absent once our food was dropped off at the table. Beers sat empty for 10 minutes until we finally ended up just ordering the next round at the bar. When I'm dropping $20 on a single beer and an appetizer, I expect the service to reflect the prices, and the beer to keep coming.