In less than a year, the northeast corner of First Street and Pierce swiftly became downtown's hippest corner for dining, with four new indie eateries. Swing by The Breadfruit for spicy Jamaican food, or indulge in pan-Asian tapas at Sens, the first sake bar in the 'hood. Tucked behind Sens, in the same building, chef Wade Moises creates fresh, handmade pastas at the recently opened PastaBAR. Next door, The Turf Restaurant & Pub serves classic Irish fare.
The Breadfruit: 108 E. Pierce St., 602-267-1266, the breadfruit.com • Sens Asian Tapas & Sake Bar: 705 N. 1st St., 602-340-9777, sensake.com • PastaBAR: 705 N. 1st St., 602-687-8704, pastabaraz.com • The Turf: 705 N. 1st St., 602-296-5043, theturfpub.com
Sonora Brewhouse • George & Dragon • The Rose & Crown
Phoenix barhopping got a lot more interesting with the debut of the light rail. Fortunately, some of these spots serve food that goes perfectly with a pint. Sink your teeth into a Kobe burger and killer onion rings at cozy Sonora Brewhouse, or get your fish 'n' chips fix at George & Dragon or The Rose & Crown, two happening English pubs that keep beer geeks well fed.
Sonora Brewhouse: 322 E. Camelback Rd., 602-279-8909, sonorabrewhouse.com • George & Dragon: 4240 N. Central Ave., 602-241-0018, georgeanddragonpub.net • The Rose & Crown: 628 E. Adams St., 602-256-0223
Maizie's • District • Palatte
Central Phoenix has surprisingly good weekend brunch options — as long as you know where to look. When you've worked up a big appetite, head to Maizie's for an egg-topped breakfast pizza or District for the lavish "morning bar" buffet, which includes biscuits and gravy, French toast, and more. For something a little quirkier, Palatte dishes up sweet potato pancakes in a charming historic-house atmosphere.
Maizie's Café & Bistro: 4750 N. Central Ave., 602-274-2828, maiziescafe.com • District: 320 N. 3rd St. (at the Sheraton), 602-817-5400, districtrestaurant.com • Palatte: 606 N. 4th Ave., 602-462-9400, downtownbrunch.com
In a city known for new construction, Hanny's is a noteworthy piece of history. Originally a classy department store of the same name, the circa-1947 building sat vacant for years until Karl Kopp, owner of Scottsdale's trendy AZ88, gave it a multimillion-dollar makeover. Now it's a chic place for lunch, dinner, or a cocktail-friendly nosh; the all-day menu features salads, sandwiches, and scrumptious, ultra-thin crust pizzas.
40 N. 1st St., 602-252-2285
Padre's • Los Dos Molinos • La Tolteca
Depending on your budget and mood, there are plenty of ways to feast on Mexican food in these parts. Padre's serves it with a contemporary spin (think salmon spinach enchiladas with chipotle cream sauce), and Los Dos Molinos does it up New Mexico-style, with a generous dose of chile kick. La Tolteca, on the other hand, is casual, cheap, and straightforward — a reliable neighborhood joint for a burrito or torta.
Padre's: 1044 E. Camelback Rd., 602-277-1749, padresmexican.com • Los Dos Molinos: 1010 E. Washington St., 602-528-3535, losdosmolinosaz.com • La Tolteca: 1205 E. Van Buren Rd., 602-253-1511, latoltecamex.com
To Market, To Market
Screw the gym. Hit the noshing trail at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market.
Gobble Rainbow Valley Nursery's (www.rainbowvalleynurseryaz.com) bite-size samples of farmer's cheese, flavored butters, and gnocchi. Try Belinda's Pickles (www.belindaspickles.com) and taste why she's been in the biz 30 years.
DePoca Foods' spicy shrimp cocktail is a no-brainer — inhale those plump crustaceans and slam the broth. But for entrees, you'll have to pace yourself or bring a buddy. The Tamale Store's (www.thetamalestore.com) green corn masa, studded with moist, firm kernels, surrounds a fluffy cheese center. (Don't get too full for the fresh strawberry and cream cheese dessert tamale, which tastes like warm, inside-out cheesecake.)
DGP Fry Bread's toppings include dreamy slow-cooked pork chili verde. Elsewhere on the spectrum is the raw organic vegan wrap from Sara's Gourmet (www.chefsara.com), full of almond hummus, savory tapenade, and root veggie salad. Chef Sara will also hand you a nibble of her pecan pie, and you'll want a whole one to take home. But for instant dessert gratification, Jan's Baked Goods' famous pumpkin roll and quick breads are right there, with locally roasted java from Bean There Roast That.
Bring home some fresh organic veggies to tame your guilt, then start all over again next Saturday morning — or Wednesday afternoon, thanks to recently expanded hours. — Julie Peterson
Southeast corner of Central Avenue and McKinley Street, Wednesdays from 4 to 8 p.m.; Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.; downtownphoenixpublicmarket.com