I just wrapped up two months in downtown Phoenix and want to pass along my favorite hangouts for food and beer. When I started traveling to Phoenix in the mid-’90’s, there wasn’t much to downtown Phoenix other than the Hyatt Regency hotel. Today, stadiums for the Phoenix Suns and the Arizona Diamondbacks, and a downtown campus for Arizona State University support a solid selection of restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. Below are the places that I found myself going back to again and again during my 2-month stay.
Mariscos Playa Hermosa While not technically within the DTPHX boundary, this place has the best Mexican seafood I’ve ever had — and that includes my dinners in San Jose del Cabo over last Christmas Break. The Pulpo y Callo Parrillada (grilled octopus leg and scallops) and Camarones Fantasia (shrimp stuffed into mild chile and then wrapped in bacon) are my favorites, but it’s all good. Worth the short Uber/Lyft ride. (1605 E Garfield St)
Harumi Sushi Sushi in the desert doesn’t immediately jump to the top of my list of food must-do’s, but Harumi hits all my sushi hot buttons — nice pieces of sashimi served with fresh wasabi and an interesting selection of rolls. It’s a small place that gets crowded, so check out the wait time on Yelp before you walk over. (114 W Adams St though the door is north of Adams on 1st St)
Pizzeria Bianco Always on the lists of the top pizza places in the US. While I’m not sure if deserves all those accolades, it’s very good thin crust pizza. And Bar Bianco next door is a very cool space for pre- or post-dinner cocktails. (623 E Adams St in Heritage Square near the AZ Science Center)
Arrogant Butcher The place I’d go when I wanted to eat at the bar and watch a ball game. I like the Butcher’s Meatballs for a smaller meal and the Beef Short Rib Stew when a bit hungrier. It’s kitty-corner from Talking Stick Arena, so it can get crowded before a Suns game. (2 E Jefferson St at S 1st St)
The Whining Pig A block north of Talking Stick Arena, The Whining Pig is a classic low-key/no-attitude craft beer bar — a great draft selection, a huge can/bottle menu, knowledgable bartenders, and a solid selection of bar and card games. My go-to beer bar in DTPHX. (201 E Washington St, though the door is south of Washington on 2nd St)
The Theodore Great craft beer bar at the west end of the hip Roosevelt Row district. Nice draft menu, color coded by style, and a cooler full of interesting cans and bottles for drinking there or back at your hotel. Good-sized place — comfy couches inside and patio seating out front and on the side. (110 E Roosevelt St at N 1st St)
Arizona Wilderness DTPHX A block-and-a-half down from The Theodore is Arizona Wilderness’s downtown beer garden. Sit outside around the fire pit (during the winter months) or inside (during the summer months). They have a wide-ranging beer menu, many of which feature Arizona-sourced ingredients like honey, lemons, prickly pear, carrots, and sweet potato. (201 E Roosevelt St) .