Over the past decade, a new hub of independently-owned, chef-driven restaurants has come together near the intersection of Central Avenue and Camelback Road in Central Phoenix. Uptown Phoenix is becoming one of the best corners of the Valley for exploring the Phoenix culinary scene, and there are several restaurants located within a stone’s throw of each other that are worth adding to your to-do list.
Upward Projects: Located within one block of each other, and the growing restaurant group’s headquarters, are four of the most popular restaurants in Phoenix. Postino Wine Café is the original anchor and a great place for sipping a glass of wine on the patio while enjoying one of their delicious bruschetta boards. Across the street is Windsor, a gastropub with a comfortable patio that is very popular with the Sunday brunch set. Federal Pizza is the place to go for a wood fired pizza accompanied by a cool, craft beer. And next door is the newest addition to the corner, Joyride Taco House, featuring street-style tacos, burritos, and fresh aguas frescas. Have a sweet tooth? Swing by Churn after dinner for a scoop of ice cream and other treats – it’s located next door to Windsor.
St. Francis: Like many of the restaurants at this intersection, one of the interesting features of St. Francis is its location in a remodeled mid-century building. Chef Aaron Chamberlin’s restaurant has an urban vibe featuring modern American cuisine that emphasizes dishes prepared with local ingredients in a wood fired oven. Favorite dishes include the iron skillet pancake, green chile pork, forbidden rice bowl, and ‘pig dip’ sandwich. Whatever you order, be sure to accompany the meal with a house made baguette.
The Newton: Located at the former site of one of Phoenix’s original iconic steak houses, Beef Eater’s, The Newton is the next phase for this renovated complex. A restaurant by Chef Justin Beckett, Southern Rail, absorbs the energy of Camelback Road through the large front windows of the restaurant. The menu features cuisine from states that are located all along the southern corridor of the United States ranging from the Deep South to the Southwest. Also within the complex is the second site of Changing Hands, the popular independent bookstore originally located in Tempe. A new twist on the store will be the addition of a coffee, beer, and wine bar – First Draft – where you can browse your favorite titles, and maybe start writing your own novel, while enjoying a beverage.
Hula’s Modern Tiki: Craving a taste of island life? Fresh fish, pulled pork, jerk chicken, and other tropical favorites are the focus at Hula’s. Wash down your meal with the best mai tai in town. The casual, tiki bar vibe of this restored and very uniquely shaped building make this a great place to visit year round. The large outdoor patio is centered around a fire pit that’s the perfect place to huddle with friends during the winter months, and the spacious indoor dining room is a relaxing place to cool off with a cocktail during the summer months.
Maizie’s Café and Bistro: This cozy urban bistro is a great place for meeting with friends to share a meal, whether you’re having brunch or appetizers and cocktails. Serving lunch and dinner 7 days per week, this is a local favorite for many residents of the neighborhood. Maizie’s also features regular specials including burger Mondays, pizza with wine/beer/sangria on Tuesdays, and daily happy hours. Favorite dishes include the Strawberry Fields salad, Reuben sandwich, and, named for its Central Phoenix location, the CenPho Press.
Kick Ass Kakes: Need a life-sized Lady Gaga cake? This is the baker for you. Less exotic but equally worth tasting are the cupcakes and Parisian macarons, available in many uniquely delicious flavors.
Twirl Froyo: Is frozen yogurt your weapon of choice for dessert? Check out Twirl for a customized yogurt concoction that you can enjoy while relaxing with friends in their beach-inspired hangout.
Looking for a pre- or post-meal activity while you’re in the hood? Browse the work of local artists at Practical Art, thumb through the record and CD collection at Stinkweeds Record Store, check out the latest fashion and trends at Frances Boutique, or catch a live show at The Torch Theatre. All of these featured restaurants and shops are located within walking distance of each other as well as the Central/Camelback light rail stop.