AJ's Fine Foods - Central

AJ's Fine Foods - CentralAJ's Fine Foods - Central
AJ's Fine Foods - CentralAJ's Fine Foods - Central

5017 N Central Ave
Phoenix, Arizona, 85012-1520
United States

(602) 230-7015 | map

View: Place Reviews | Events
Reviews: 19 | Ratings: 20 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of thirsty4beer
2.7/5  rDev -34.6%
vibe: 3 | quality: 2.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 2.5 | food: 4

Not the place to go for top rated and/or harder to find beers. Only the standard, middle of the road craft stuff that you'd likely find any place in town. Way more craft beer than a gas station/convenient store but AJ's selection is so much smaller than Total Wines or BevMo.

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Photo of liamt07
3.74/5  rDev -9.4%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

Visited on a recent trip to the Greater Phoenix Area. Sort of a Whole Foods-esque atmosphere, upper class shopping environment. One row of coolers, with some beers sitting in front of them. Lots of singles and six packs, and a pretty good selection of large format bottles. Some decent Belgians, and an average selection of local Arizona stuff (some Four Peaks and others), Sam Adams, Odell, Stone, Alesmith, Sierra Nevada, Rogue and DFH. Moderate international selection (some UK and Asian stuff), but not overwhelming by any stretch. Quite good pricing on the single bottles (12oz), most were in the $1.50-2.50 range, and bombers weren't too expensive either. No service in the beer area itself, but pretty solid job by the employees at the checkout - re-packaged all my beers in six packs, double bagged everything and were quite friendly all around. A decent stop, but not fantastic. Hard to rate this because I'm not too familiar with how this location's selection compares to other stores in the area/state, but is substantially less than many I've been to in Western NY/NYC.

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Photo of DPFRD
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%

Good place to go if you want some decent Belgian, German, Eastern European, and american craft. they also have some asian stuff, and some swill if you're into it. Sometimes they have nugs, sometimes they don't hit it up if you're in the neighborhood, you're bound to find something nice. They keep everything in their open cooler so it is ready to go. Definitely a good place to go if you want to do some tastings as they have amazing cuts of meat, produce and an awesome assortment of hard to get cheeses.

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Photo of magictrokini
3.85/5  rDev -6.8%

Yuppie supermarket that makes Whole Foods look like Food-4-Less. Long beer aisle that literally bisects the store. Pretty big selection and variety. The German/Euro beers are the least represented, with mostly mainstream craft beers (Chimay, Franziskaner, Corsendonk) but there are a few oddballs that you can find. Larger mirco selection. Lots of Dogfish Head and Avery, with a constant rotaing variety. Can always find at least 10-12 beers that I have never seen and another 10-15 I can't get in San Diego. Best part: SINGLES. All of them are SINGLES. Prices are on the high end, with some being ridiculous (Avery Mephistophiles, $12 for a 12 oz) but most are in line with everywhere else.

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Photo of far333
3.65/5  rDev -11.6%

Stopped in here on a business trip based on Beerfly info. This place is similar to a Whole Foods, great quality stuff. Incredible beer selection. Not only were there lots of beers that I can get at home, but many others that I can't. And there is a huge selection of singles to choose from in 12 ouncers, 22 ounces, and 750 ml. Good selection on imports too. Any BA will easily find something here.

Only thing I question is the management and/or aging of the inventory. I bought a Stone Leviathon and an oaked Arrogant Bastard, and they both had muted flavors, limited hop presence, and a sort of old taste to them. I actually poured both of them out before finishing them and won't be reviewing them. If you do stop in here, you may want to only buy beers that are dated, and beers that have recent dates.

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Photo of ggaughan
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%

Stopped in here the other day after working at a client in Phoenix. Although I have read that a few of the othe AJ's locations may have had a better selection, this was the nearest to where I was and was still definitely worth the trip. I was flying back East the next day so I tried to load up as best I could. They had a very nice selection of New Belgium beers (Fat Tire, 1554, Tripel, Abbey and the new SpringBoard). I also saw a decent selection of Alesmith (Speedway Stout, IPA, Anneville and Yulesmith), unfortunately I had already had a bottle of each at home so I didn't look up on them. I picked up a few local brews from Arizona and New Mexico. Not sure about how they will be but thought it would be nice to get something from the area. They had a few Dogfish Head which was nice to see being an East Coast guy. They also had a decent selection of Belgians, English and German beers. Even a few from Japan I had never seem. I ended up with 12 bottles and would have purchased more if I was driving home or had more luggage.

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Photo of BeerBelcher
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%

I visited this store based on the feedback I read on this site. It was partly because I was traveling from a different part of the country I think (it doesn't look like a beer shelf in Milwaukee), but also because there is a plentiful single-serve selection with some rather attentive help.

When I first walked into the store (having never been to an AJ's before), I thought I'd walked into an over-sized Hallmark store. Once I got into the beer & wine aisle, I realized my initial assessment was off. There was a long aisle of singles, focusing on CA and CO beers. The wine steward stopped by to speak with me, which I appreciated. Pricing was reasonable. I'd recommend this place as a beer store to visit when in Phoenix.

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Photo of ruinationation
4.15/5  rDev +0.5%

This is just like any AJ'S. Sorta upscale grociery store with larger parking spaces that comes with larger pices. The have a quality selection of beer and they stock the limited releases of those breweries. Very clean and the checkout clerks act very professional. They have lots of fancy goods here, I ususally find myself going to and from each AJ'S buying out the Stone limited brews. If you can't find a brew thats not extremely rare then checkout this or any AJ'S and you just might find what you looking for.

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Photo of gabe
3.7/5  rDev -10.4%

I visited AJ's on a recent business trip to Phoenix. It's a high end grocery store with a decent beer selection. They have one whole aisle cooler filled with lots of beers. Six packs, 750's, single bottles... a little bit of everything. All of which is kept cold. I saw some really nice things here. Alaskan Smoked Porter, Stone, Pizza Port and I initially wanted to give it a higher selection score, but I think the reason was because these were beers that are harder for me to find on the East Coast. There are some things I can get that AJ's didn't have. Anyways, I stocked up on some items and that was it. Its a grocery store so there was no help/service to be found, though I didn't need any. On a side note their deli selection and fresh foods looked awesome. There was a coffee bar out front with some tables to relax at. AJ's also has a good selection of wines and liquors. Worth a stop if you are in the area.

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Photo of Prufrock
3.05/5  rDev -26.2%

I visited AJ's Fine Foods and Sun Devil Liqours on a recent trip to Phoenix. AJ's is much prettier, but Sun Devil Liquors wins by a mile in terms of selection.

One aisle of chilled beer. Wide selection, but their "variety" consists mostly of well-known international lagers that aren't worth it.

A few bombers near the back; picked up AleSmith IPA. Had some Rogue as well, but the selection is pretty boring.

Much better wine selection and food offerings. Good bakery and coffee shop. But for beer, head elsewhere.

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Photo of blitheringidiot
4.4/5  rDev +6.5%


Found AJ's with Google map ease. Easy to find. Pulled my hokey yellow Mustang rental car into the lot and waltzed on in. Of course, like a moron, I walked to the right and where is the beer? To the left! Duh! Like a Whole Foods! Fancy to a T! Upscale all the way and so clean, you could slurp up beer from the floor.

Service? Sheesh! Some lady rung me up and some girl put my bottles in individual bags. Oh yeah...some employee was handing out free cheese samples while espousing the virtues of (you guessed it) cheese! Ergo: 4/5.

Selection: A 30 foot (first down!) wall of cold brews. Good, but not killer. A full line of New Belgium, North Coast, Alaskan, several standard respected Belgians some Rogue, y'know the West Coast drill. Nothing amazing. Alesmith was limited to IPA and 10th Anniversary Decadence which I horked for $11. I did buy the last bottle of a (a-hem!) well know Trappist brewery quad that is *cough* rather well reviewed for $10 clams a bottle. After that, I drove back to Tops and loaded up on better beer selection to cram into my carry on bags for the flight home. Half are for beer trades.

Oh, the wine aisle was huge! Twice as big as the beer selection, but I don't drink wine unless I am dumping it down some chicks throat to get her drunk and naked. Yo may laff but it works.

Last call: F this place 'cos I bought that last crazy monk juice bottle. Oh...Good cheese!

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Photo of tavernjef
4.65/5  rDev +12.6%

Well visiting the store closest to my brothers home in Mesa, the Scottsdale store I believe, I nearly fainted at all the wonderful goodies that never see the light of day in MN. Unless by trade of course, which I've had the pleasure of doing to get a good variety from what was on the shelves at this place. But clearly not all of them. Wow, the selection is fantabulous, never ending choices of west coast and rocky mountain micro goodies with a supply of imports that are a bit stiffling. A pure feast for the eyes and mind, as you wonder, "How could I possible buy, then fit it all in my already packed moblie unit(car), and then find the time to enjoy each one of them." Well it would take a good while. Unfortanately I didn't spend nearly enough time in the place to really go nuts as we were on a strict travel log for that day and only purchased a few key items to take with along our trip. Now that my bro knows about this place and Papago's too, he will be busy sending me a good supply of the available goodies for sometime to come.
This is a food market as well and itself too, was impressive, we got some of our needed food supplies for our trip here as well. Prices seemed about right for mostly everything. Some of the price tags on a few of the bigger, hard to find brews were gastly, burned a hole in my wallet just looking at em. Service was top notch, one employee asked if I needed help with anything as my eyes were darting all over the place and recommended some of the newer brews that had come in such as Avery 11, some brews from England, and a bunch of micro seasonals in the hefe, belgian, and pils styles. I just told him my scenerio on how I was really just looking and that we were about to embark on a long road trip so I didn't have room for what I would love to get. The counter help for check out is pretty fast as well.
Anyways, this is a must stop for any would-be traveling BA who may be in the large metropolitan Phoenix area. Go with lots of cash and with lots of time cuz I can see going through the selection here taking a while for most who may not see alot of these choices regularly. Next time I'm in town to visit my brother, I'll surely be prepared with a load of cash and hopefully sometime to enjoy them too.

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Photo of Loki
4.4/5  rDev +6.5%

Thankfully I checked the Beerfly before my whirlwind trip to Phoenix. I knew I would not have enough time to meet Gusler, but could I get some great if I had some time. Well turns out I had an hour to kill and killed it well.

Quality: First rate. They did have some macros, but not many, and they were far, far out numbered by the micros, craft, and import beers of all styles. Hell they had the magnums of Double Bastard with the lock for $50! All kinds of St. Bernardus and other Belgians. Wonderful selection of West Coast beers. If only I had a bigger bag, more time, and more money.

Service: Nobody asked me for assitance, but I didn't need any. The cashier was very friendly and was packing up idivdual bottles nicely. I'm sure their service is great, but I didn't really experience it.

Selection: Top notch. I've only seen a few better. Great selection of imports and West Coast beers. I didn't notice many East Coast beers, but I wasn't looking for them either.

Wonderful place, a must stop when in Phoenix.

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Photo of AtLagerHeads
4.65/5  rDev +12.6%

Well, Gusler sure knows how to impress out-of-town visitors with great beer stops. After spending an idyllic Sunday at Papago's we went to AJ's on Wednesday to scope out the great beer selection at the North Central/Camelback location And great it is with a wide selection that ranges from all the great SW US micros to a boatload of great Belgian brews. Singles are clearly a focal point here as is great service. Clearly this is a true beer lovers site and checkouts seem never to stack up despite the heavy traffic into the market.

But AJ's is more than just beer. It is a fine gourmet market with lots of food ready fro consumption on the spot. Several people I met raved about the food component her.

Great parking; good location; great beer and food = must visit in Phoenix.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.85/5  rDev +17.4%

Damn, Bugger and Blast! After a hard 8-hour Saturdays BA Work Out at the Papago Brewing Company with my personal Beer “Non-Fitness” Trainer, the legendary Anti-Atkins High Calorie Work-Out Specialist and Très Cool Arizona BA, Sir Gusler, we managed to make breakfast on the Sunday at an early 9am DDST (Dysfunctional Desert Sand Time). As we gorged ourselves at ‘The Eggery’, with a good beer drinkers high protein egg based breakfast, Gusler reminded me that we needed to hit the nearby Beer Gym. “It’s called AJ’s Fine Foods and it is right next door”, says Gusler, “it’s great for some more specialty beer training”.

Oil Soaked Mongolian Eunuchs!!! Sir Gusler was not wrong! What looked like a rather boring Trader Joes ‘rip-off’ to a So-Cali lad of 2-years standing, turned out to be a desert sun-soaked exterior that revealed a veritable Cave-à-Bieres.

Simply listed as AJ's Fine Foods (Phoenix) on the Website, it is clear that each store has an individual feel. The Camelback/Central (Phoenix) Store layout is simple, head inside, and avoid all the old people dressed in Golf clothing that smell funny and look dead, and turn left. Then proceed past the Salads, Bread and Cheese areas and then turn right. Hey Presto.

Stand still, take a deep breath and check the plastic Cards in your back pocket, both of ‘em, coz yer gonna need ‘em. An awesome selection of Beer, Biere, Pivo, Bier, Ales and Stouts welcomes you and invades the senses. If you don’t think that this is what you’re own Beer Fridge should look like, then you’re not a true BA!

But what to do for my workout? Lift the genuine Aussie Fosters “Bouncing Bomb” Bitter Cans, or flex my Belgian Abs, my English Lats, or my Romanian Biceps, or even my Czech Forearms and German Triceps, or perhaps my Polish Calf’s or Austrian Shoulders or just my Domestic American Big Head exercises? Like the man with no feet, I was stumped. The selection here is quite simply incredible. It is very easy at times to forget that you are essentially in a Supermarket and not in a specialist beer store, and in the Desert as well! It’s like the Twilight Zone I tell you.

The service was quite something else also. This is certainly not a store that hires “rent-a-numb-nut” or “Beavis and Butthead”. I was politely asked twice if I could find what I wanted, but never in a self-effacing way. Now usually I expect this kind of “does not compute” false modesty and inane questioning from a Macdonald-ian led US Shopper Society, but the questions asked were extremely genuine, and they were asked by people who weren’t brain-washed to ask such questions every 30 seconds to passers-by. Very clearly, after I struck up conversation with one of the guys, they knew their shit, Big Style. Very Impressive Indeed!!!

I easily dropped $100+ in here, and I was in a cautious mode, ask Gusler!!

The Service was nothing short of excellent, and they even laughed at my crappy English Jokes. That gets another point from me no worries!

Incredibly Impressive and *Highly* Recommended.

Wonder when they will open an AJ’s in Long Beach??

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Photo of jcalabre
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%

I visited the AJ's in Chandler, AZ on Ray Ave. This is an upscale grocery store (for those of you in So Cal, think Bristol Farms) w/ a great selection of beers. I found several micros that are not available in my area. If I have the chance again, I will stop here.

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Photo of BigHead
4.5/5  rDev +9%

I am always at AJ's for at least half an hour, staring like a zombie at the long wall of single beer bottles housed in the chiller. I wish this was my fridge at home. The selection is great, from imports to micros, and the help is always there and courteous. They do tend to have sampler packs and specialty brews available. It's nice to just pick the beers from the selection so nicely placed before you. Some of the pricing can be high but not outlandish.

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Photo of Gusler
4.7/5  rDev +13.8%

If I had an award to give to a "Business", that listens to its customers, it would go to AJ's, while all are owned by the same parent company, each store is independant, the beer selections are extraordinary. They cary many hard to find "Micro.s", Belgians and other foreign beer, to numerous to list. I inhabit the Camelback and Central store, where Chad and Wendi, take extra good care of me, and who have heeded my rantings and ravings about Alesmith and a couple of other breweries, which now are stocked and or will be in the near future "Bravo" to these two exceptional "Customer" lovers of the hops and needless to say the Wine and Spirit section are magnificent.

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Photo of hyuga
4.8/5  rDev +16.2%

AJ's Fine Foods is a small Phoenix/Valley area chain that specializes in, well, fine foods. Their selection includes, as it should, a wide range of fine beers. The address listed here isn't the only location, there are five others as well. One other in Phoenix, three in Scottsdale, and one in Chandler. Visit their website for the exact locations of the others. The one listed here (Central) has the best beer selection of any that I've been to. They have several Belgian beers that the others don't, as well as other stuff that's generally hard to find. Even some limited edition stuff that you'd think would have been sold out long ago. However, I usually visit the Moon Valley location, which is just a few blocks south of me. They have a great selection as well, including several more Rogue beers than the Central location, but their beer section is a bit smaller. The overall quality of the beer and the store is very good. I've had no problems with beer that I've purchased there. They keep nearly all of it refrigerated, and if it's not on the cold shelves, it's right in front of them. In addition to the beer itself, they have very helpful and friendly "beer section" people that always give informative answers to my questions and can usually tell me what new beers are coming in and when. The guy at the Moon Valley location is especially helpful and friendly, he recognizes me whenever I come in and lets me know what's new. Even the cashiers are always very friendly. Overall, my favorite places to buy beer here in the Valley.

update 2002-12-29:

I've taken to visiting the Camelback and Central store more, especially since they have such a great selection of Belgians and other stuff that no one else has. Also, seems like there's something new every time I visit. Chad, beer section guy, has been very helpful and great to talk to when I visit. Can't wait to go again and grab more new beers to try!

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AJ's Fine Foods - Central in Phoenix, AZ
Place rating: 4.13 out of 5 with 20 ratings