Disco Dragon is now open in downtown Phoenix. What to order at the bar and restaurant

When a new spot opens in town, we can’t wait to find out, share our first impressions, share some photos and tell you about some menu items. First Taste, as the name suggests, isn’t a full review, but rather an overview of restaurants that have just opened – an opportunity to sample a few items and satisfy curiosities (yours and ours).

With glittery purple body parts – legs and busts, in particular – hanging from the ceiling, pots of disco ball plants and Olympian heroes decorating the walls, it’s definitely a party as soon as you walk through the doors of Disco Dragon. The sparkling new bar and restaurant opened May 19 in downtown Phoenix.

Brenon Stuart, co-owner of the concept with Sam Olguin, explains the name, admitting it was originally “Disco Dragon Pasta Party” several iterations ago.

“I don’t know how to necessarily break it down into a coherent thought. It was just like a stupid combination of things.”

Executive Chef Kevin Rosales added, “It’s like emo punk bands. It’s like, Playboy Man Baby,” he says.

Wherever Disco Dragon comes from, it holds our attention.

Click to enlarge Quirky decoration at Disco Dragon - MER NORWOOD

Quirky decor at Disco Dragon

Norwood Sea

When the team behind Killer Whale Sex Club, Halfway Crooks and Deez Buns thought about their next concept, they wanted to create something that would fill a void. They wondered what was missing in Phoenix, especially Roosevelt Row?

Their response ? Asian food. Fast forward and now the Disco Dragon menu, created by Rosales and Chef Bob Tam, draws inspiration from pan-Asian influences.

“We use a lot of [Tam’s] Chinese influence, then my Filipino influence, with a lot of nostalgia. The menu items are Thai, a little Korean, but mostly Filipino and lots of Chinese. But find a twist,” says Rosales.

What kind of twist? Two words – lumpia pizza.

Imagine traditional Filipino spring rolls from Shanghai, but instead of being stuffed with pork, they’re stuffed with melted cheese and served with a dollop of marinara. One bite provides a sweet reminiscence of childhood while satisfying the taste buds of adults.

Click to enlarge Pizza Lumpia - SEA NORWOOD

“My favorite thing about tasting food is the nostalgia,” Stuart says. “The food makes you smile in an ‘Oh my God’ way, and that’s fun. That’s kind of the point here.”

While many menu items were inspired by the question “Wouldn’t it be fun if…?” Stuart says they also fit Rosales’ requirement for authenticity.

“Authenticity is about being intentional. I wouldn’t compromise on flavors, it’s better if there’s salt or acids and a good amount of fat. But I think it’s just knowing what what I know best and how I can share it. And as it goes, it’s 100% everything wrapped in a spring roll,” he laughs.

Other dishes such as tempura fried oyster mushrooms will give you a takoyaki vibe, and seared pork wontons with hot pot sauce are a modern twist on the tradition. These dishes are best eaten in a group.

As Rosales describes the menu, “It’s kind of like ‘palutan’,” he says, defining the Filipino term as “food to have with alcohol.”

The 12 cocktails on the menu each have an Asian spirit base ranging from soju to sake, and include floral, citrus and plum ingredients. For a purple overload, try the Ube Milk Punch, a silky clarified cocktail paired with a sweet ube donut filled with ube cream.

Click to enlarge Ube Milk Punch - SEA NORWOOD

Ube milk punch

Norwood Sea

The beer menu allows you to taste beers from Taiwan, China, Laos, Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan. There is also sake on tap.

“Almost selfishly, we wanted to create a place where we wanted to hang out,” says Stuart. Taking inspiration from the night markets of Los Angeles, the team wanted to create a space where customers come not just for food and drink, but ultimately to have a good time.

“What I think is cool about Phoenix, especially Roosevelt Row, is that a lot of things are happening here. There’s movement. There are so many players here, and they’re all doing different stuff” , said Stuart.

“We have tacos next door, we have barbecue next door, we have wings over there, we have three breweries that all make very different styles of beer — they’re all very different inspirations. And that’s where things are. Hopefully people following us will try the food next door or try the beers across the street and want to come downtown more often. This is where big city shit happens.

When it involves ube cocktails and lumpia pizza, we’re here for it.

disco dragon

509 Roosevelt Street East
Thursday – Saturday 6:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.
No reservations

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