It was a year ago we were all saddened to hear about the closure of one of our favorite downtown dining spots. The Urban Grocery and Wine Bar in the Downtown Phoenix Public Market closed in May 2012, and with it went some of the best BLTs and arugula salads around, along with their small grocery market. Though the Public Market has continued to be the site of Food Truck Friday and the Wednesday night and Saturday morning farmer's markets, we missed the cafe and it's selection of freshly-made, locally-sourced lunch options.
But thanks to St. Francis's chef-owner Aaron Chamberlin, who acquired the building shortly after it's closure last year, the space has been remodeled and reopened as the fast-casual Phoenix Public Market Cafe. A few of us recently headed there for lunch to visit the old favorite.
The first thing we noted is the open, airier feel of the remodeled space and the tables crafted from old barn wood. It was only tea and water for us at lunch, but the Cafe does have a bar area with several craft beers on draft, available in both pints and pitchers, in addition to wine and cocktails made with fresh, seasonal ingredients.
I went with the BBQ pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw and my dining partners went with two of the cafe's vegetarian options, the chopped Mediterranean salad and the Roosevelt Row bagel with house-made hummus and chunky avocado.
The food was as good as we were hoping for and we all left empty plates behind. We were hungry and could have gone for a heartier salad or sampled some of their side orders---such as market vegetables, brown rice or french fries, available in the $3-$4 range---to go along with the sandwiches.
We're all suckers for quality baked goods and we had immediately noticed the fresh baked cookies and brownies calling to us as we ordered at the counter and we just couldn't leave without picking some up. The corn cookies were intriguing, but we went with s'mores cookies and a blondie brownie, which may or may not have been completely devoured shortly after returning to the office.
All in all we were happy with the new old favorite and look forward to returning to sample more of the menu and many more of the cookies.
The cafe is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
14 E. Pierce St, Phoenix, 85004. 602-253-2700
A co-worker and I have a thing for Pho. It’s our comfort food, so we were pretty bummed when Viet Kitchen closed it’s downtown location. Recently, a new place to get our Pho fix opened just down the street from our offices, so we decided to give it a try.
Bonjour Vietnam is from the team that runs Rice Paper in Central Phoenix. The Bonjour Vietnam menu consists of Vietnamese favorites; spring rolls, Pho, Bun, Bahn Mi and a few dish variations to cater to the downtown lunch crowd.
The day we went my co-worker ordered the Pho Tai and a Vietnamese coffee.
I went with one of their lunch specials, the vegetable bento box that came with crispy spring rolls, stir-fried vegetables, rice and a salad.
My co-worker enjoyed the Pho and especially enjoyed her coffee. My bento box was the perfect size for lunch and didn’t leave me in a food coma upon returning to my desk.
I’ll be back for my bowl of Pho soon.
Bonjour Vietnam is located inside the Hotel San Carlos at 202 N. Central Avenue in downtown Phoenix.
Phoenix’s perpetual sunshine might tempt you to spend all your free time sipping frozen beverages next to a swimming pool. Don’t give in. Exploring the Sonoran Desert’s horizons will broaden yours.
Nearly every outdoors-loving Phoenix local has, at some time or another, started his or her day with a hike to the top of Camelback Mountain. The city’s most famous landmark resembles a dromedary camel in repost, and the mountain challenges hikers with a rugged but rewarding trek to its 2,700-foot “hump”. Visitors who prefer not to scale Camelback can still gawk at it from a nearby restaurant patio.
Phoenix’s newest must-see attraction is the first museum in the world dedicated to the celebration of global instruments. This $250 million museum features a collection of more than 15,000 instruments – including the last guitar Elvis played in concert.
As its name suggests, this outdoor museum showcases desert plants – and not just those native to the Southwest. Among the succulents that adorn the garden’s 50-acre grounds are endangered desert species from around the world, including Dali-esque trees from North Africa and sprawling cactuses from Mesopotamia.
Greater Phoenix is home to more than 200 golf courses, many designed by legends of the game such as Robert Trent Jones, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. Check out stay-and-play packages at area resorts before you come, and consider playing one of Phoenix’s true desert layouts.
5. Heard Museum
The Heard is Arizona’s most famous museum. The traditional and contemporary art on display provides insight into the culture of Arizona’s 22 Native American tribes. Not to be missed is the haunting exhibit on Indian boarding schools. The Heard Museum Shop is one of the best places in Phoenix to buy authentic American Indian jewelry, pottery, paintings, sculpture and weavings.
Located near the famed Arizona Biltmore resort, this fashionable shopping desintation has a garden-park courtyard, upscale retailers and plenty of dining options. Be sure to check out the Fashion Park’s newest addition: UNION, a wing of locally owned boutiques.
A major player in the Southwest’s art landscape, Phoenix Art Museum showcases an impressive collection of European, Asian, Latin American, Western American and contemporary pieces. Be sure to check out the sculpture garden, Museum Store and the museum restaurant, Palette.
Occupying a city block in downtown Phoenix, Heritage Square is home to the Arizona Science Center. But go for the food. Pizzeria Bianco serves pizza that a New York Times food critic deemed the best in the country, and Nobuo at Teeter House is an Asian-style teahouse by day and a funky izakaya by night.
The Old West and New West converge in Old Town Scottsdale, where galleries dedicated to American Indian and cowboy arts share a pedestrian-friendly streetscape with shops that sell Southwestern jewelry and crafts. Nearby, you’ll find some of Greater Phoenix’s finest restaurants and trendiest nightlife.
10. Taliesin West
The sprawling wonder at the foot of the McDowell Mountains was the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright, America’s most famous architect. Wright constructed Taliesin West from sand, gravel and stone he found on the mountain’s talus slope. It’s open to the public for tours.
Jamburritos Cajun Grille Express chef, Michael Brown, took the Cajun food that he knew and loved and put a tortilla on it – making it Cajun food Phoenix style.
This popular Phoenix food truck brings New Orleans style food and turns it into a portable burrito, hence the Jamburritos name (get it, the popular Cajun jambalaya + burrito = jamburrito).
The Jamburritos Cajun Grille Express menu includes items like the Chicken Jamburrito made with chicken etouffee, jambalaya rice with smoked andouille sausage, Creole sauce, shredded Monterey jack cheese and shredded lettuce, a Catfish Jamburrito made with catfish, jambalaya rice with smoked andouille sausage, Cajun tartar, black bean salsa, shredded Monterey jack cheese and shredded lettuce, hungry yet? Make sure to keep an eye out for special menu items like crawfish etouffee, fried oysters and hushpuppies.
If you catch Jamburritos Cajun Grille Express at the Phoenix Public Market on Saturday mornings you can get one of their delicious breakfast Jamburritos with scrambled eggs and bacon.
You can find Jamburritos Cajun Grille Express regularly Monday – Thursday on Roosevelt between 4th and 5th streets from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Wednesday evenings at the Phoenix Public Market from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m., Fridays at Food Truck Friday at the Phoenix Public Market from 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., and Saturday mornings at the Phoenix Public Market from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. Make sure to follow Jamburritos Cajun Grille Express on Facebook and Twitter to find additional locations and times.
The food truck craze has exploded in Phoenix with many opportunities to eat from these rolling gourmet “restaurants." We’ve eaten from many of the food trucks throughout Phoenix and wanted to highlight them individually for you. You can find the food trucks on a regular basis at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market on Wednesday evenings from 5-8 p.m, Fridays from 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. At the North Central Farmers’ Market on Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., and the Third Thursday of the Month at the Whole Foods Raintree location from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. There are always many more opportunities that you can find by following your favorite truck individually or by following the Phoenix Street Coalition. Bon Appétit!
Spring in Phoenix not only brings Cactus League Spring Training, but it brings out the most delicious events of the year. Here are some of the food and beverage festivals happening around Phoenix this spring. Bon Appétit!
This craft beer tasting extravaganza will showcase more than 200 brews from more than 60 breweries from across the state, country and around the globe each providing samples of their proudest brewing achievement.
March 9 – 10
The Devoured Culinary Classic is Arizona's premier food festival. Held in the sculpture garden of Phoenix Art Museum, this annual must-do event features chefs and culinary creations from more than 70 of metropolitan Phoenix's best restaurants. Guests enjoy a panorama of inspired edibles and cooking demonstrations, coupled with delicious fare from local artisans, brewers and vintners.
March 9 – 10
Festivities include a marketplace, an island-food court and themed-activity centers. Performances include storytellers, Tahitian drummers, ukulele players and hula dancers. Make sure to bring cash for the food and trinkets at Island Marketplace, where vendors sell woven baskets, carved-bone necklaces and Hawaiian coffee.
The parade will kick off at Sheridan and Third streets in midtown Phoenix, featuring Irish step dancers, bagpipers, marching bands and more.The faire begins immediately after the parade, with two stages of entertainment including Celtic rock bands and Irish dancers. The kids area will feature a petting zoo, pony rides and face painters. A vendor specializing in genealogy will be on site, working with Irish names and family coats of arms. Fair attendees also will get a sneak peek at the construction progress of the Irish Cultural Center's 15,000-square-foot library, which will focus on genealogy.
March 21 – 24
A celebration of all things Western, Festival of the West is one of the largest events of its kind in the nation, attracting visitors from around the world anxious to immerse themselves in the culture, lore and romance of the American West.
Rock the Zoo features live music from local bands, beverage sampling, food tasting in the VIP Lounge, and food for sale from Valley food trucks, the Rockin' Raffle and other exciting activities all in the picturesque setting of the Phoenix Zoo.
This event is for the whole family to enjoy. Throw out the lawn chairs and picnic blankets and prepare to witness Chandler’s largest and best BBQ event. There will be live entertainment, an all ages Kid’s Zone, and Bike Show with the traditional backyard BBQ atmosphere. It's sure to be a finger licking good time.
Guests will again enjoy incredible food and wine selections from the Valley's hottest restaurants, resorts and caterers plus more than 700 great wines, beers, liquors and non-alcoholic drinks from presenting sponsor Bashas’. Bon Vivant will also feature live music, dancing, and a silent auction with golf, dining, and resort packages.
This 21-or-older party features food samplings from top Valley restaurants and resorts, along with tastes from boutique wineries and craft breweries. Last year, participating businesses included Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort, the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, Westin Kierland and Different Pointe of View. Live music and a silent auction will be included.
April 9 – 14
As the longest running festival of its kind in the United States, the Scottsdale Culinary Festival draws more than 40,000 visitors looking to enjoy fabulous food, fun and festivities. This year's festival will feature a host of events from cooking demonstrations by some of the nation's top chefs to a one of a kind James Beard out of the house dinner.
April 13 – 14
Get a taste of Polish dishes, such as golabki (cabbage rolls), kielbasa sausage with sauerkraut and pierogi, a dumpling with cheese and potatoes. The free festival, among the largest Polish celebrations in the Valley, includes folk dance and musical performances, an art marketplace, kid's area, informational booths and food court with traditional cuisine and imported beer.
Between 40 and 60 BBQ teams will be cooking and competing at The Arizona Barbecue Festival. It's a day sure to be filled with food, fun and hot competition. The highlight of the Arizona Barbecue Festival is Pit Row, where the cooking teams will be grilling, smoking and braising in their best effort to be named the champion in their BBQ category.
The My Nana's Best Tasting Salsa Challenge is a culinary event featuring restaurants, businesses and individuals competing to make the best salsa in their category. Over 80 competitors prepare fresh salsa on-site in either the mild or hot category. The grand champion will win $1,000 cash prize and attendees can vote for their favorite with dollars through the People's Choice Award.
Highlighting Arizona's independent culinary scene, the event will showcase eats from over 35 restaurants previously featured on Check, Please! Arizona in addition to craft beer and wine, cooking demonstrations, a James Beard Award winners' panel hosted by Robert McGrath, and a chance for fans to audition for a spot on the show.
May 18 - 27
For two weekends a year Schnepf Farms opens it's peach orchards for public picking in Queen Creek for its annual Peach Festival. In addition to picking your own peaches, there are plenty of other activities to entertain the whole family include train rides, hay and carnival rides, a peach food-sampling tent, chef demonstrations and of course peach pies, peach cinnamon rolls and their famous peach pancakes complete this peachy festival.
Want a true Phoenix experience? Make sure to catch one of our spectacular sunsets, which paint the desert sky on a nightly basis. We know the best places to see a Phoenix sunset and are happy to let you in on the secret.
Head up to Dobbins Point on South Mountain (you can drive there) and take in sunset views of the downtown Phoenix skyline from the top of the largest municipal park in the U.S.
A great place to catch a sunset before a night out downtown, Lustre Bar has a hip and comfortable atmosphere, which is made even cooler by its poolside lounge seating.
When you make a reservation, ask for a table by the window to take full advantage of the 360-degree view at Arizona’s only revolving rooftop restaurant.
Arrive early to explore the beautiful Desert Botanical Garden, then top off your visit by watching the sun set against a backdrop of desert flora and red-rock peaks.
End your day with a margarita in hand on the large and comfortable patio at Four Seasons Resort. This elevated perch (which is 1,000 feet higher than downtown Phoenix) offers picture-perfect views of sunset-warmed Pinnacle Peak.