Best Fresh Start 2019 | The Farish House | Food & Drink | Phoenix
Lauren Cusimano

Few restaurants in Phoenix have ever gotten as much bad publicity as The Monocle. The restaurant and bar was set to open in 2017 until Phoenix New Times revealed that co-owner Arthur John Bachelier was a convicted sex offender who served six years for having sex with a minor. That prohibited him from obtaining a state liquor license. Bachelier went on the lam after he was convicted of probation violation. Law enforcement officials finally caught up with him in Seattle, where he was working at another restaurant, and he is back behind bars. But there's a happy ending for the historic Phoenix building, at least. It finally reopened this year as The Farish House, taking the original name of the 1899 brick home near Roosevelt Row. And early reports on the neighborhood bistro are quite promising: Our food editor called it "ideal for a date night or a quiet family dinner."

Heather Hoch

Jobot is why God created coffee shops. It makes the Friends gang's episodic hangouts at Central Perk look juvenile and tame. The long-standing Roosevelt Row establishment has grown into its new location at Third Street, and has beat all the odds to maintain the inclusive and unpretentious vibe of its old bungalow setting on the Row (perhaps accomplished by simply not turning half of the lights on). With excellent espresso alongside great craft beer selections, a full bar, a gated patio, an ice cream stand, and a full kitchen with vegan options, even the pickiest of your friends will find something to love here. Especially if it's bingo night. Or karaoke night. Or open mic night. Or, it's First Friday and the place is packed full of happy people watching the teenage nu-metal cover band across the street. Jobot is the place to take anyone and everyone.

El Charro is more than a coffee shop experience. Husband-and-wife owners Francisco and Azul Peralta, former workers in STEM fields, have drawn from their world travels and aimed for more of a salon vibe. They hit that target. Sit at the bar, and unbidden, Francisco may pour you high-end mezcals, just so you can taste. This friendly duo source coffee blends from Mexico and mix some fascinating brews with them, including horchata-coffee hybrids and lattes fortified with marigold liqueur from Guadalajara. There is food (though there's no kitchen). There are folks hanging out, typing, reading, or talking under a mural of Frida Kahlo painted by the couple's daughter, Geraldine. There are group painting sessions, open mics, and musical artists. This could easily be your office. This could easily be your playground.

MacAlpine's is an iconic spot on the boundary of downtown Phoenix that seems never to have aged in 60 years. There are red booths, jukeboxes, and an antique store (you can buy saddle shoes!) attached to the restaurant, along with endless syrup options and ice cream sodas available to order with fun names referencing pop culture. The staff wear those pink dresses you won't see anywhere else; essentially, this dessert haven is like living in the moment when Tobey Maguire arrives in Pleasantville, except it's not black-and-white — it's full color, but just as beautiful a thing. So pop a quarter in the jukebox, order soda and a pie, chat up the friendly staff, and forget what year it is. The '50s are just around the corner.

Ever had an au jus made with preserved ocotillo flowers? How about White Sonora wheat pasta tossed in miso, made from Gambel oak acorns foraged from the forest near Payson? Scallops and fermented blueberry paste? No? How about pickled palo verde sprouts with a tang to sub for capers? When you order correctly at Cartwright's in Cave Creek (hint: tasting menu), you eat in a radical, galvanizing sphere apart from what we expect from our dining scene, but one vital to eating in our state in 2019. Whether it's ga'ivsa and Navajo steamed corn mingled under line-caught fish, or an artful composition squiggling through a smear of saguaro jam, Chef Brett Vibber's creations wheel you through the groves, washes, and pine forests far beyond town. He leads his kitchen crew out into the backcountry to forage for ingredients like sumac and wild grapes. Many are pickled, jammed, dried, or otherwise preserved for select use well beyond their seasons. In recent years, Vibber has grown and fine-tuned his foraging program, which is exciting for this pioneer of New Arizonan cuisine. Eating at Cartwright's is eating Arizona.

Chris Malloy

Is there anything better than knocking off work early to get cheap drinks and eats? (Answer: no.) Lovecraft in north central Phoenix is our favorite place to observe happy hour, which runs from 3 to 6 p.m. every day. The "ale house, bottle shop, and smoke kitchen" does a progressive happy hour; the closer to 3 you get there, the cheaper things are. We like the broken chip queso dip and the smoked jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped with bacon, and it's always fun to pick out a can of beer from the fridge (there's a great selection). Of course, we like to visit Lovecraft any time the doors are open for the green chile pork burrito, the beers on tap, the cool decor, and the friendly atmosphere.

Patricia Escarcega

Harlow's Café sates every morning mealtime craving imaginable: the early-bird cup of joe, the quick and healthy, the greasy and hearty — and the chorizo and eggs may be the best hangover cure in the state. Oh, and if a hair of the dog is your thing, find solace in the fact that Harlow's recently added booze to the menu. This experience is everything you could want from a classic local diner that has been open for business for over 40 years. Everything is made from the greasy pits of Arizona love, from the Pancho platter (pancakes, eggs, and bacon or sausage) to the Percy omelet (onion, garlic, bell pepper, tomato, sausage, and cheese).

The ride was supposed to be a preconditioning workout to get us primed for a planned 40-mile ride around South Mountain. We got an early start with our riding partner, who would lead the morning's trek. But after only about seven or eight miles of pedaling through local neighborhoods and canal paths on a perfect early-spring morning, we landed at O.H.S.O. for its "beer brunch." From there, any thought of improving our fitness level was pure fantasy. O.H.S.O., which has four Valley locations, touts its Arcadia pub as bike- and dog-friendly, with a patio facing the nearby well-used Arizona Canal trail that, at that point, is just north of Indian School Road. We ordered avocado toast, which with the beer was $13. The price was good enough to justify a second beer. Yes, the bike ride home seemed very long indeed. We've been back to O.H.S.O. on two wheels a couple of times since then, but planned it better — this is best done after, not during, the ride.

Bringing up the Phoenix neighborhood staple Windsor as a brunch option after a lengthy night fueled by laughs and libations is the most assured way to win the debate with your friends about where to nurse your party wounds and reminisce about the night before. Let's face it: Brunch is mainly about quelling the hangover that screams for your immediate attention from the howling, depths of your core. In such a frail condition, you want to know that you're going somewhere that is devoid of judgmental eyes and also unwavering when it comes to the quality of grub, booze, and atmosphere. We get it. Your demonic hangover demands a shady patio, a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar, endless coffee, biscuits and gravy, french fries, and — oh, dear God — a bacon cheeseburger? Okay, this might be more serious than we thought. Get to Windsor's brunch, stat.

Chris Malloy

Pickles. Chicken. Heat. That's what's for lunch at Monroe's, founded by Larry White, the man behind Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles. Modeled after the Nashville-style hot chicken meals that have become a trend from coast to coast, this chicken packs the kind of intensity you want when skipping the bagged lunch al desko. Chicken gets a heavy breading. You could probably design maps of each piece's varied landscapes. All that furrowed, contorted, brown-fried casing doesn't have the shatter you would expect — but there, rising hard and fast, comes the heat. The secret is to dig in before the pepper sauce that makes the chicken molten sogs the exterior. Milkshakes frost over the heat some. If you get a chicken sandwich, the slaw will control the fire and lend a nice snap. However you do Monroe's, you're in for a downtown lunch with the personality to make your day better.

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