So with ICON coming up, I figured that I might as well post some info on places nearby that might be of interest to those visiting AZ.
Most of these recommendations are walkable, depending on your definition. I’ve listed them in descending combined order of favorite & very near to less loved & far.
If you’re looking to catch up or meet with folks or just find a good please to eat or drink, there are lots of great spots near the conference.
As of late, I’ve gotten sucked into craft cocktails. For many years, I was a pretty hardcore cocktail sissy. I blame it on a bad experience with Jim Beam as a freshman in college.
About a year ago, we were on vacation out in Orange County & hitting Portola Coffee Lab/Theorem for some wonderful coffee in the OC Mix. We ran across The Mixing Glass, a craft cocktail “lifestyle store” supplying bar tools, books, and vintage, new and hard to find spirits. I thought the place was pretty cool. We ended up buying a bottle of Small Hand Foods gum syrup and a spherical ice mold. Little did I know that the gum syrup would lead to the internet searching of a cocktail to make with it, a fascination with Old Fashioneds, renewed interest in the Phoenix craft cocktail scene and the beginnings of a spiral into a home mixology obsession.
Ok enough of that. The good news is that there are several craft cocktail spots very close to the ICON location. These are all walkable and in the order that I’d try.
- Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour – evening only. Serious craft cocktails. Also a great Asian inspired bar menu. 21 and over.
- Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel ICON Lounge – one of our best cocktail folks just became bar manager there. Haven’t been yet but can’t wait to hit. Wait until Tuesday btw.
- Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails – good food too.
- Hanny’s – cool spot.
A bit further but still walkable…
- Rum Bar – small but very cool & attached to The Breadfruit, a great Jamaican restaurant.
- Phoenix Public Market Cafe – some good drinks, good food & desserts. Cool, relaxed place.
- District Kitchen – some craft cocktails & also good food.
If you’re a BEER head…
- Angel’s Trumpet Ale House is great. It’s a super cool vibe with a great patio and lots of taps w/great beers.
- Cartel Coffee Lab – possibly hardest core craft? coffee in AZ. Several locations including one very near. One of the early local craft roasters.
- Royal Coffee Bar – another great local chain. The nearby one is a new location so may not see in Google. Right near Pizzeria Bianco.
- Songbird Coffee – another great nearby spot. They just moved, closer to ICON. Haven’t been to new location yet.
- Mornin’ Moonshine Coffee – another new nearby place. By the Vovomeena folks.
- Giant Coffee – one of our faves. Just a great spot by Matt Pool of Matt’s Big Breakfast. They use Four Barrel beans from San Francisco. Great ingredients all around.
- Lola Coffee – could probably walk it but right at the threshold. A long time local roaster. Cool spot. Great coffee.
- Lux – farther north even, definitely not walkable, but classic. One of the earliest high quality local roasters. Have blown up and expanded. Now also do great cocktails, food, pastries.
- La Piazza Phx – VPN certified pizza very nearby. Very good.
- Pizzeria Bianco – sometimes called best pizza in US. Great stuff. Chris Bianco is an AZ classic. Now has multiple places. Pretty nearby too. Going east of ICON.
- Nobuo At Teeter House – great Japanese fusion. James Beard award winner. Right near Bianco in Heritage Square.
- Pomo Pizzeria – also VPN certified. Very good.
- Phoenix Public Market Cafe – a bit north. Great drinks, food. Very relaxed.
- Cibo – this would be a bit longer of a walk but more great pizza. Has a really nice atmosphere if you’re looking for a place to get away.
- Matt’s Big Breakfast – great from scratch breakfast & not too far – always a line.
- Fractured Prune – to order donuts in City Scape.
- Welcome Chicken + Donuts – great donuts in the morning & fantastic fried chicken with Asian sauces starting at 10:30 am. Not walkable.
Beyond walkable faves but worth it…
- Rito’s – awesome hole in the wall Mexican food. Have never been able to order something other than the green chili burro. I’m sure the other stuff is great too.
- Carolina’s – another awesome hole in the wall Mexican food spot. Amazing, amazing homemade tortillas. Get a buttered tortilla just to experience it regardless of what else you order.
- Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles – fantastic fried chicken & sides.
- Welcome Diner – awesome Southern food in a cool spot.
PHX METRO FAVORITES (not taking location into account THAT WERE NOT MENTIONED ABOVE)
- Crudo – modern Italian – amazing crudos (Italian version of sashimi w/oils (olive, truffle), acid (lemon juice) and spice (salt) – great cooked dishes – amazing craft cocktails.
- FnB – one of our best. Amazing vegetables (they call her “the veggie whisperer”), meats, fish with ethnic influences here & there – lots of AZ wines – one of our best.
- Rancho Pinot – one of our best “farm to table” restaurants for 20+ years – a classic.
- Binkley’s – one of our very finest. Multiple James Beard nominee. Have heard people say better than The French Laundry though some scoff at that (never been). Amazing tasting menus, molecular gastronomy. Only knock is it’s way, way up north.
- Kai – another one of our greats. Focus on Native American ingredients. Great food, amazing service. Super nice. Kind of a special occasion place.
- Little Miss BBQ – amazing Texas bbq a la Franklin’s – counter service, lines, picnic tables – totally resetting the bar for bbq in AZ.
- Noble Eatery – lunch spot by probably our best local bread maker (whose working partner happens to be one of the top chefs in town).
- Virtu Honest Craft – another Beard nominee (best new restaurant) – fantastic Mediterranean-inspired food and a killer craft cocktail program – great atmosphere too.
- ShinBay – one of our absolute favorites – traditional and contemporary Japanese w/amazing ingredients – Omakase style tasting menus – if it was more affordable, we’d be there weekly.
- Andreoli – another local gem – Chris Bianco, our most name chef, worked under Giovanni and called him the most underrated chef in the US – casual part grocery/part restaurant – basically Italy in AZ.
- Hana Japanese Eatery – fantastic Japanese food/sushi spot – lots of neighborhood folk have no idea of the amazing dishes that they can do there.
- Posh – choose your own adventure fine dining – amazing food where you mark what you’re not interested in eating & let them take it from there – little known bonus is that the chef/owner is a hard core wine geek & he stocks well.
- Pig & Pickle – neighborhood joint or destination dining – actually both – great from scratch food and great cocktails.
- Bink’s Midtown – a more casual offering by Kevin Binkley. Love, love, love it.
- Second Story Liquor Bar – another spot with great food and amazing cocktails – neat atmosphere too.
- House Brasserie – stellar modern American food and great cocktails in a killer atmosphere – amazing patio too – from one of our long time great local chefs.
- The Mission – modern Latin cuisine from that same chef as House Brasserie – great food, great drinks – cool spot in old town next to the Old Adobe Mission.
- Citizen Public House – another spot for wonderful food and amazing cocktails by one of our long time great chefs – don’t miss the pork belly pastrami, the Stetson chopped salad (now called “the original chopped salad”) & the Im-port.
- Crudo – many of our best behind the bar seem to congregate or at least do time here.
- The Last Drop at Lon’s at the Hermosa – Travis Nass is the man.
- Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlor – new spot getting great reviews.
- Second Story Liquor Bar
- The Clever Koi (not been yet but on the list)
- The Parlor (not been yet but on the list)