Today’s Phoenix City Guide Update comes from Aleta Lynch, a graphic artist and long-time Phoenician. Aleta moved from Phoenix to Chicago for college but couldn’t deny her southwestern roots and moved back in 2007. After realizing she was a suburban girl no longer, she planted roots right in the heart of downtown and soon fell in love. While she spends most of her time designing for a health and wellness company, Aleta also enjoys doing freelance art projects on the side and sunning herself by the pool whenever she has a free moment. Today she takes us on a lovely guided tour of this Arizona city. Thanks, Aleta, for the wonderful update! — Stephanie
Read the full guide after the jump . . .
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Set in a restored 1913 bungalow, Cibo (pronounced “Chee-boh”) is arguably the best pizza in town. (If nothing else, it rivals that of Pane — and Pizzeria Bianco.) Its charming ambiance and friendly service can’t be beat. Start the night off with their famous homemade mozzarella, dig into one of their wood-fired pizzas, and wrap up with homemade crepes.
Matt’s Big Breakfast
Owners Matt and Erenia have something special going at their tiny diner in the heart of downtown. Their menu is simple: hearty, good old American breakfast staples, featuring cage-free eggs, grain-fed natural pork and beef, and local organic produce.
Phoenicians are proud to say this small chain started right here in the Valley of the Sun. The Mediterranean menu is simple, fresh, and veg-centric.
Tammie Coe Cakes
You can find Tammie Coe cakes in a number of coffee shops and restaurants around the valley, but her home base is right in the middle of Roosevelt Row. Check it out for a wide variety of delectable sweet treats.
Giant has one of the most comfortable interiors of all the downtown coffee spots. On a nice day, the south wall of the cafe opens completely, creating an outdoor-in atmosphere, and a bar along one wall offers laptop-friendly outlets for guests hard at work. Giant shares its space with Bunky Boutique, so a break from work is just a couple feet away.
This little art gallery and shop is the highlight of Roosevelt Row. It boasts one-of-a-kind work from over 100 unique artists and has surprisingly affordable prices. Their selection is always diverse, and always changing, so stop in often.
Bunky has received “best of” awards in Phoenix several years in a row now. Best style, best shopping, best boutique . . . whatever you want to call it, it’s a Phoenix favorite. Bunky specializes in funky, hipster clothing and also carries a fantastic selection of accessories and gifts.
Boasting at least one free show a week, Crescent Ballroom is the place to hear local emerging talent. The lounge is open every night of the week until 2am and is the perfect place to grab a bite while waiting for the next show to start.
This yoga studio and spa is a retreat that’s not far from the action of downtown. It’s conveniently located right off a light rail stop in the ground floor of a condo high rise. An abundance of talented instructors are available to lead you into a soothing yoga practice, whether you’re looking for some power yoga or something more on the Zen side.
Japanese Friendship Garden
This beautiful 3.5 acre sanctuary is discreetly tucked away inside a large public park downtown. The main attractions at the garden are the Japanese Tea House and breathtaking koi pond. Admission is free on the first Friday of every month, October–May.
Hotel San Carlos
Opened in 1928, the San Carlos is Phoenix’s only historic boutique hotel. It stands out as a beautifully historic building in the middle of modern skyscrapers, within walking distance of many Phoenix venues. Each of its 128 guest rooms has a unique historic look and feel, and the rooftop pool and sundeck aren’t too shabby either.
America’s Taco Shop
If you want to sample the best carne asada Phoenix has to offer, look no further. America has been stationed here, in the heart of the Coronado Historic District, since 2008. Her hole-in-the-wall shop became so popular so fast that she had to open up several other locations to accommodate the growing demand.
The latest incarnation dreamed up by the owners of Postino, Windsor is the comfiest neighborhood bar in town. Swing by to sample their extensive menu of savory upscale bar and comfort food, or save your appetite for homemade ice cream from Churn, their sweet treats shop around back.
This hipster coffee bar is one of Phoenix’s hidden gems. It’s a comfortable place to take your homework, a blind date or girlfriends for a girls’ night out. Try anything from the bakery counter; it’s all made in-house and will not disappoint, and when you get really hungry you can pop next door and check out the menu at Pane.
Pane is the lesser-known, almost incognito cousin of the famous Pizzeria Bianco, the pizzeria in Heritage Square known for its 2-hour (or longer) wait any night of the week. The great thing about Pane Bianco is its wood-burning brick oven and several pizza selections from the menu of Pizzeria Bianco, without all the fuss. Dine in Pane’s quirky, intimate indoor space, or take your order to go. This pizza promises to rival the best Tuscany has to offer.
This neighborhood tavern boasts an indoor bocce ball area, a perfect escape from the Phoenix heat. Their Monday treat is the best tavern burger and fries you’ve ever had for only $5, and every Friday night they boast a live DJ.
Located in the renovated historic Arcadia post office building, this wine bar draws its name from its history. Order their famous bruschetta, which is prepared with delicious, local ingredients, and feel free to linger in the comfortable indoor-outdoor atmosphere while taste testing their excellent selection of wine.
Hula’s Modern Tiki
This Hawaiian hangout is known for its inviting patio, island-style eats and colorful tropical cocktails. Stop by for their amazing brunch or fabulous happy hour, and pay special attention to their flavorful seafood offerings.
This boutique is an oasis for big-city girls and guys who are unimpressed with downtown Phoenix shopping. Its carefully curated wares give the sensation that you’re in a much larger, more developed city, in its funkiest shopping strip. Inside you’ll find everything from shoes to notecards, witty books to children’s toys. If your timing is lucky, a seasonal Frances pop-up shop will beckon you from two doors down, in addition to Stinkweeds, a record shop next door.
La Grande Orange Grocery
This organic breakfast bar has a funky “retail grocery” inside and pizzeria next door. Locals refer to it as “LGO” and don’t mind fighting for seating or parking because the food is just so darn good.
Whether you need a bike tune up or a new bike altogether, Slippery Pig is the place to go. You can find any type of bike here, from cruisers to professional racing bikes, and the staff is very knowledgeable.
Step into this extensive home and garden gallery, and you might as well be on an historic tour somewhere in Spain. It is clear that this exquisite collection has been hand-selected especially for art lovers, and it’s a delight to absorb even if only browsing. Their collection includes antique pottery, faucets, ironwork, lighting, and reclaimed architectural pieces.
photo by Aleta Lynch
This salon is like a spa retreat for your head. Stephen Lynch is the recommended stylist known for his magical touch and precise eye for detail.
Spring/Fall Movies in the Park
When the weather is right, you can catch a flick every Friday night in the courtyard at the Biltmore Fashion Park. Pack a picnic or grab takeout, and tote your blanket and chairs to stake your territory on the grass. Dogs and children are always welcome.
Desert Botanical Garden
If desert-scapes start getting tiresome, it might be time to drop in on this 145 acre desert paradise. It boasts desert plants from around the globe, many of which look like they are straight from the colorful imagination of the famous Dr. Seuss. Take advantage of free admission on the 2nd Tuesday of each month from 1pm to 8pm, or check out one of many special music events in the garden.
This newly updated boutique hotel has a retro art deco feel. It boasts an elegant “oasis” pool area at the center of the hotel, which you can pay a small fee to enjoy even if you don’t have a room. Its rooftop sundeck is also a notable hangout, as it’s one of the best spots in the city to score a skyline view of downtown. Several days a week, you can drop in on a rooftop yoga class while enjoying this spectacular view.
Joseph “Sentrock” Perez
Hope Through Art
Frank Lloyd Wright
Jimmy Eat World