I’d be lying if I said Andrew and I haven’t been to The Mission at Minder Binder in the past.
Located within stumbling distance of our home, many-a Andy-Chrissy get together has managed to make its way across the street to spacious, historic Minder Binder in the last few months the reincarnated space has been open.
I was too young to drink (or even drive to Tempe from my hometown of Gilbert) when the first Minder Binder was popular, but I remember hearing crazy radio commercials that touted the exploits of its patrons and staff within its red barn walls.
Walking into the wide-open space, The Mission just smells like history, and the space reflects that. Today The Mission at Minder Binder no longer looks like the sun-soaked, abandoned barn that stood empty for around a decade when the original incarnation closed its doors. It looks like… well, a Spanish-style mission, but the owners have managed to maintain the oddball charm of the place, complete with hanging horse statues and names of patrons past carved into every place you look.
The eclectically-decorated spot is absolutely massive. The former Minder Binder was already a huge place, but the owners expanded the grounds with a large outdoor patio and structure in front that makes the place look like a fortress of fun.
OK, so the place has history, but it also has a history of awesome food. Andrew and I were out to see if The Mission lives up to the former Minder Binder’s reputation for awesome burgers and bar food, plus friendly service.
Our perky waitress came to our table after patiently entertaining three middle-aged ASU alumni taking full advantage of the half-priced bottles of wine that night. As Andrew shouted over their claims of who will win the college Super Bowl this year (That’s what they call it, right?), we decided to get some wings, because Andrew doesn’t dine out unless wings are guaranteed to be included in the meal.
We opted for the basket of a dozen sweet chili wings. Andrew “The Chicken Menace” Axelrod has been frying up wings of his own for the last several months, dunking the flappers of hundreds of chickens into an outdoor turkey fryer in a borderline animalistic effort his friends and family, who contest that his are the best wings they’ve ever had. But I’ll be damned if Minder Binder doesn’t give ‘ol Andyroo a run for his money. The tangy sauce perfectly accompanied the crispy wings, and with a huge portion, we were able to take some home, too.
“Wah wah wah wah wah,” Andrew said over the boisterous alumni.
“Good grief!” I said. “I can’t hear you!”
“Should I get the wah wah burger?”
“The what burger?”
“The burger with peanut butter on it?”
“Wait… you’re willing to do that?” I sat back aghast. I must have misheard. He was referring to the Jiffy Burger, complete with bacon, cheddar cheese and (dun dun DUNNNN!), peanut butter. Who was this mysterious man sitting across from me? Not the basic-ass boyfriend I know.
I went with the Sparky pizza because I wanted to feel the burn. Topped with jalepeños, pepperoni, red onion and black olives on The Mission at Minder Binder’s fabled sourdough crust, it was a chewy, spicy slice of goodness. But as always, Andrew knows what’s up when it comes to ordering.
The medium-well burger arrived perfectly cooking and the addition of peanut butter was shockingly tasty and not at all too sweet. Bacon makes everything better, and the burger’s was a crispy, flavorful addition. Apparently I was in a spicy mood, because the only thing I was craving from it was a hint of spice, so maybe ask for a side of sriracha, if you’re so inclined.
Too full and with too many leftovers, we reluctantly refused dessert and “walked off” our meal by crossing University Drive, immediately plopping on our couch and reminiscing about our own memories of Minder Binder.
For those that prefer relaxed bar settings over the hustle and bustle of Mill Avenue, The Mission at Minder Binder might be North Tempe’s best kept secret.
Just a few minutes from Tempe Marketplace, The Mission—Wait a minute… did she have the nerve to call me basic over there? Unbelievable. T
his is coming from a woman who owns lounge shirts that have such brilliant quips as “I need coffee!” and “It’s wine o’ clock!” This is coming from a woman that watches “Ru Paul’s Drag Race” and “Say Yes To The Dress.” This is coming from a woman who says that Lorde is her “girl crush.” She even uses Garfield phrases like “good grief!” I swear I once saw her do yoga while drinking Starbucks. If she were an actress she’d be Sharon Stone because her instincts are so basic. Consider the microphone dropped.
After her third outfit change (EDITOR’S NOTE: Christina wore the same outfit she wore to work and puppy training class that day), we finally walked our way over to Minder Binder, a huge Spanish-style bar and restaurant. With its high walls and courtyard patio, I’m almost surprised there was no moat to cross on the way in.
The interior of Minder Binder is something else altogether. The wooden floors and bar tops relay that local watering hole vibe, but then you look up. The ceilings of Minder Binder appear to have been decorated by a hoarder from The Oregon Trail—saddles, wagon wheels, even an entire row boat are all dangling up there. I can’t think of anything else in Tempe quite like it.
I also can’t think of anywhere else in Tempe you can get a peanut butter burger. Much like the ceilings, the PBB I was about to eat was strange, but awesome. My order came after a heavy recommendation from our friendly server. Initially I thought this was just a gimmick dish. I was wrong. Cheddar, bacon and peanut butter sounds like something a stoner would stick into a flour tortilla and microwave, but used in the right proportions, they made for intriguing complementary flavors to my medium-well burger. I’d also back up the recommendation from my server to forego the lettuce and tomato when you order the Jiffy Burger.
Prior to our entrees we ordered a basket of chili wings. I’ve cooked up so many different parts of these birds recently that if chickens had legends and ghost stories, I’m pretty sure they would sit around the camp fire and talk about me. In fact, just last night I cooked an entire chicken in the oven and then forgot about it, falling asleep on the couch.
Christina ordered pizza. The Minder Binder menu describes the Sparky pizza as “Marinara, grande pepperoni, black olives, purple onion and jalapeños. Fear the fork, baby.” It’s a fun little nod to the ASU mascot. Christina, being so basic, she couldn’t even feel the heat from the jalapeños, and ate her pizza with a fork. The New Yorker in me seethed, but I quenched the burning sensation with another bite of my peanut butter burger.
Whether you’re looking for a casual place to grab a cocktail or just to grab some grub, Minder Binder is a worthy successor to its namesake. It’s a unique and welcome addition to my restaurant rotation. And that would still be true even if it weren’t within spitting distance of our patio.
The Mission @ Minder Binder, 715 S. McClintock Drive, Tempe, 480.747.3851, theminderbinder.com