As with anyone who’s lived somewhere for a period of time, we gradually make a list of places that we enjoy visiting regularly. These are the neighborhood favorites, the places you tell your friends and visitors about, or maybe they’re your guilty pleasures that you don’t share with anyone else. Either way, here’s a quick list of places we’ve revisited and recommend time and time again, all located just off Central Ave in Phoenix.
- Lux Cafe – I admit I used to be a hater, but the expanded Lux has proven to be a life-saver since I started school. Turns out the hipster vibe isn’t off-putting when you really need to zone out and focus on homework. If you’re here at the right time, their mac & cheese with jalapeños and bacon is very rewarding; if not, go for the M&M cookies.
- Cheese ‘n’ Stuff – Terrific, family-owned deli, and an Uptown institution. May not be the healthiest place to eat, but you really shouldn’t be in a deli if you’re looking for health food. DO come here if you want a flavorful sandwich and a Yoo-hoo. Say hi to Stan, and/or his wife & daughter. My go-to here is the Doughboy (turkey, bacon, swiss cheese and avocado on sourdough).
- Matt’s Big Breakfast – If you’ve been in the neighborhood any weekend morning, you will have undoubtedly seen the line outside of Matt’s. Even after moving into the space that was formerly Verde (damn I miss that green chili), the demand for this traditional breakfast spot never slows down. Ernie says to get there before 9pm to avoid a wait, even on weekdays. I recommend going on Thursday morning for the Eggs Benedict special, but any dish you get with their bacon is guaranteed to change your life.
- Honorable Mention: Clever Koi – Open less than a year, we’ve already gone there probably 7 or 8 times, and I’m not much of a noodle guy. They were also cited as one of the reasons New Times named Central Ave as a Top 3 food neighborhood in the valley. Truth be told, last weekend I wrapped up what I’d been working on at Lux and pedaled down the block to Clever Koi just to munch on their “slider” steam bun. Follow these guys on instagram to stay up with their monthly “Day Off Dinners” for a one-night-only menu and guest chef experience.
- Gallo Blanco – Breakfast, lunch, or dinner. . . you can’t go wrong at Gallo. Their guacamole is amazing, and the street tacos are my personal favorite tacos in Phoenix. Don’t skip on a Paloma or Agua Fresca to wash it all down.
- Public Market Cafe – Open for just over a year, I’m stoked to see this place remain successful in the space of the old public market store. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve ever ordered, but my go-to picks are the Rooster Booster, Chick Pea Pancakes, Chicken Salad Sandwich, and Rice/Bean Bowl.
- Pane Bianco – the Caprese sandwich, enough said.
- Giant Coffee – picking a top coffee shop in downtown / central Phoenix is a tough feat, but I’d have to go with Giant. Their honey vanilla latte is always a welcomed treat.