When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions. Share a few photos, some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).
Restaurant: Lux Central Location: 4400 North Central Avenue Open for: A little over three months Eats: Coffee, booze, and comfort food Price Point: $5-$15
Some time ago, Jeff Fischer, owner of Lux Coffeebar, decided to embark on a new concept for his popular neighborhood coffee house in Central Phoenix. With a desire for more space and new ideas, Fischer bought the former clothing store just south of the original location late last year and went to work on a new vision. That vision became a reality a little over three months ago, and Fischer called it Lux Central, a "grown-up version of Lux."
Able to hold twice as many people as the original, Lux Central -- in addition to serving up caffeinated concoctions and baked goods -- boasts expanded hours, wine, beer, and handcrafted cocktails, as well as a small and ever-changing menu of familiar breakfast, lunch, and dinner items in an atmosphere Fischer says is both home and community.
It certainly was hoppin' when I popped in for a visit -- hoppin' with hipsters!
For a first-time visitor to Lux Central, the experience upon entering the unmarked concrete building can be jarring. The room is bright, the electronica booming, and weaving one's way through rooms of funky and reclaimed furniture, such eclectic items as vintage typewriters and burlap sacks, and dressed-to-impress people drinking coffee, chatting with friends, and doing whatever it is they do on their laptops (Mac only, of course), can be tricky. My first thought was: People eat here?
Ordering proved to be challenging, as well. A line of java-entranced young people obscured the small menu attached to a glass partition, prompting me to make my dinner decision lickety-split, so as not to keep those behind me waiting. Counter service was curt, and there seemed an overall expectation from the staff that my dining partner and I should know the drill, as well as the details ("Why are you using those napkins? If you want water, it's over there.")
Contrasting the bright and noisy atmosphere, Lux Central's comfort food served up on vintage plates feels like it came right from Grandma's kitchen. The roasted acorn squash risotto with Brussels sprout leaves and sweet dates was pleasantly flavorful and better than the over-salted grilled pork and overcooked wild rice. But the mac 'n' cheese proved to be the star of the show.
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Gooey and packed with bacon and jalapeños that weren't shy about making themselves known in every bite, it was easily one of the best I've had in the Valley. I wanted to savor it, but unfortunately, with the pulsating beats, bright lights, and being muscled out of my eating space by a row of vintage typewriters, I ate hurriedly and washed my not-cheap dinner down with a tiny plastic cup of ice water. Next time it shows up on the menu, I'm getting it to go and parking my non-hipster caboose down on one of the picnic tables at Pane Bianco next door.
Jeff Fischer's new Lux certainly seems to be popular with fashionable young folk, but when it comes to eating, the fare doesn't seem to jibe with the scene. So, did I miss something?
What say you, hungry coffee house dwellers? Have you eaten at Lux Central yet? What did you think?