Eat + Drink

Got 24 Hours? Here’s the Best Way to Enjoy Phoenix, Arizona

Chef Aaron Chamberlain has created a tasty modern American menu at St. Francis. (Photo: Wendy Rose Gould)

There are three important things to know when traveling to Phoenix, Arizona: where to eat, what to see and where to let loose. That’s because the city is brimming with hundreds of top-notch restaurants, lounges, rooftop bars, live music venues, art galleries and cultural hubs. With so many options, you may have trouble trying to decide what to do next.

Not to worry; set your indecision aside and follow this itinerary to experience Phoenix like a local.

Morning

Phoenix-Matts-Big-Breakfast
There’s a reason “Big” is in the name of this Phoenix favorite. (Photo: Wendy Rose Gould)

Roosevelt is the center of Phoenix’s art district and is teeming with creatives, millennials, and a slew of eateries and art galleries. For your first meal of the day, head to Matt’s Big Breakfast for classic staples like eggs, griddlecakes and waffles. The word “big” isn’t in the name for nothing. Expect generous portions here. Post-breakfast, stroll down Roosevelt Street and check out the galleries and shops this road is known for. One of the must-see galleries is the Modified Arts, which showcases contemporary artists like printmaker Miguel Monzón.

Although long thought of as strictly residential, Uptown Phoenix is gradually becoming one of the city’s most thriving areas with a slew of new restaurants and retail destinations popping up at a rapid clip. Young families and singles alike have flocked here to be close to this action.

One of the best examples of this? Lux. This coffee shop roasts all the coffee beans in house and serves top notch espresso drinks. For a sweet sipper, try the specialty black and white mocha. Pair your coffee with one of the desserts beckoning from behind a glass case, such as decadent chocolate espresso bundt cake. After coffee, hop on the light rail to check out nearby Changing Hands Bookstore. There, you’ll find the latest titles from national and local authors like Amy Silverman in addition to plenty of local goods like Wild Women Soaps.

At lunch, head to St. Francis. Chef Aaron Chamberlain has created a tasty modern American menu filled with seasonal fare like pumpkin soup alongside wood-fired local dishes like pork chile verde. When the weather’s good, dine alfresco on the pretty patio.

Afternoon

For an afternoon treat, hit up Sweet Republic for its handcrafted ice cream made from local ingredients. Enjoy classic flavors like rich chocolate to the creative Earl Grey Tea.

Evening

Old Town Scottsdale, where Scottsdale’s first settlers arrived late 1880s, is a lively and historic area home many early 20th-century buildings (like the Scottsdale Historical Museum housed in a former schoolhouse dating back to 1909). The area is chock full of restaurants, bars, wine tasting rooms and art galleries.

Phoenix-Virtu
Hungry for dinner? See what noted Chef Gio Osso is cooking up at Virtu. (Photo: Wendy Rose Gould)

For dinner, see what noted Chef Gio Osso is cooking up at Virtu, which has appeared on national best restaurant lists. Dig into classic Italian fare like gnocchi or porchetta. Pro tip: don’t forget to order the charred octopus; this appetizer is near-legendary in this city.

After Dinner

Downtown Phoenix is where many city residents work during the day and play at some of the city’s best night-life spots when the sun sets. Head underground to Valley Bar where you can listen to live tunes—ranging from jazz to rock to live DJ sets—in an intimate setting. If no one is taking stage that night, you can play your choice of pool or pinball too. If games are your thing, visit the Cobra Arcade Bar. Cobra is home to 40 vintage arcade games like Donkey Kong and Mortal Kombat II that you can enjoy until 2 a.m. nightly.

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Sip a hand-crafted cocktail at Bitter & Twisted. (Photo: Wendy Rose Gould)

After all that, if you’re still hankering for a drink, downtown Phoenix’s Bitter & Twisted slings creative cocktails like bathtub gin (served in an actual mini bathtub) alongside elevated bar food in a dimly lit, contemporary setting in the heart of downtown. Cozy up to your loved one in a plush booth as you sip craft drinks and indulge in specials like the Ramen burger.

This article was published through a partnership with Visit the USA, inspiring travelers to explore America’s boundless possibilities.

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