Design Destination Phoenix: Where to Eat
Part 2 of our guide to a new major design destination: Phoenix dining
Our four-part Design Destination: Phoenix travel guide continues with the best of Phoenix dining. Before you read, check out Part 1: Where to Stay to find out why our editor Wendy Manwarren Generes decided to take a closer, design-focused look at her hometown, and her picks for hotels and resorts in this surprising city.
Phoenix Food: Dine + Linger
Start your day at Luci’s at the Orchard, a marketplace/restaurant with an inviting family- and pet-friendly atmosphere, a diverse menu (with all-day breakfast) and plenty to buy besides food. Situated on a plot that was a 1920’s citrus farmstead then a 1950’s citrus nursery, the site smells of the lemon, lime and orange trees still there. What’s even sweeter is the inspired redevelopment of the property that preserves two of the original heritage houses and turns them into charming eateries, like this one in a 1960’s ranch house.
The long line to order at the counter is typical, I’m told, but the wait is entertaining since there’s loads to look at, including giftables—from beard oil to kids’ toys—and a mouth-watering gelato counter. Lucia Schnitzer, one of the co-owners, tells me the chilaquiles, stacks of corn tortillas, chicken, tomatillo sauce, avocado and cheese with a sunny-side up egg on top, is the most popular dish.
I get the avocado toast served with egg whites (pictured at right), and Kim gets an omelet with chorizo, red onion, tomatoes, poblano peppers and cheddar cheese.
Both are very good, but when I see someone at the next table with the Funky Monkey French toast made with pull-apart cinnamon bread and dusted with powdered sugar, I’m kind of kicking myself for opting to be healthy.
Also on the property: Pomelo, a full-service restaurant located in a converted 1920’s house; Splurge, an ice-cream shop; and a splash pad.
For lunch, we head to The Henry (above). Truth be told, this isn’t my first time. Kim and I dined here when she picked me up from the airport a couple of years ago, but I was hugely pregnant and couldn’t get exactly what I wanted, so I asked to go back.
The expansive restaurant, developed by Phoenix restaurateur Sam Fox, has gorgeous views of Camelback Mountain—if you can snag a table on the patio, which we did not—and an interior dining space that feels sort of like a vintage-y living room with its toile wallpaper, eclectic artwork, velvet sofas, table lamps and book-filled shelves.
We order the warm kale and truffle dip with crème fraîche, served alongside house pita and lavash crackers to start (pictured at left). I would have licked the bowl if it was acceptable to do so.
Then I got my fix of what I wasn’t supposed to consume when I was seven-months pregnant with Genevieve: the tuna poke bowl with avocado, sticky rice, pickled cucumber, roasted shiitake, green onion and ponzu sauce (below).
It was well worth the wait.
Lauren Bailey, a fellow Arizona State University alum, co-founded Upward Projects, a restaurant group known for converting Arizona’s midcentury-modern architecture into hip places to eat and drink. We peek into the headquarters (which will be moving later this year), located in a 1960’s building, designed by iconic Phoenix architect Al Beadle. A former First Federal Saving and Loan bank, it’s now colorful and casual, and shares a wall with Federal Pizza, one of the five restaurants in this walkable enclave they’ve redone.
There’s also Postino, a wine bar with delicious veggie, cheese and meat boards, but wine’s not what we’re in the mood for right now. Churn, a nostalgic ice cream and candy shop with a pastel harlequin-painted wall, isn’t quite what I’m craving either. And Windsor with its wall of music cassette tapes, and “YES” sign would be great if I wanted a burger and a cocktail.
I’m in the mood for a margarita pitstop, so we make our way to Joyride Taco House (pictured at left), which is a visual fiesta of color—coral and mint barstools, copper lights and bright, geometric-tiled walls. We snag one of the outdoor tables. I order the blood-orange margarita, which combines tequila, triple sec, house blood-orange sour and hibiscus. I dip a few chips in the house salsa on the table, but my mouth waters at every taco platter that saunters past. Come for happy hour when tacos are $2 and margaritas are $5.
For dinner, Kim and I meet another friend, Tatum Luoma, a PR powerhouse here in Phoenix, and dine at Hearth ’61, the fine-dining restaurant at Mountain Shadows resort. Normally, I don’t sleep and eat at the same place because I like to experience as much as possible, but I tossed that logic when I walked into the restaurant to see glorious mountains on all sides through the floor-to-ceiling windows, a huge open kitchen and a fireplace that almost looks like it’s suspended in The Living Room lounge at the restaurant.
Go hungry and treat yourself to a few entrees and a couple of desserts to share.
We began with the ahi tartare served with Persian cucumber, shishito peppers, shaved turnip and puffed rice, then split the melt-in-your-mouth, day-boat scallops with sunchokes and sugar snap peas and Niman Ranch tenderloin of beef with blue-cheese fondue and truffle mashed potatoes. We felt too full to order more, but we “forced down” the delectable flourless chocolate torte with caramel java-chip Bavarian cream and raspberry gastrique.
Try one of the four-course monthly Sunday suppers complete with beverage pairings, or reserve a table for lunch and ask for the Sweet Lunch Date deal, which gives you a free dessert to share when you buy two entrees.
Design Destination: Phoenix… continued
Stay tuned for more installations in our Design Destination: Phoenix feature!