Crescent Ballroom effortlessly combines food and music with one of the best and diverse menus in downtown Phoenix. Leave it to Charlie Levy, the venue’s owner and founder of Stateside Presents, to take things up a notch.
The inaugural Phoenix Unknown: World Music and Night Market will feature a dozen bands and over 30 food vendors that represent the array of cultures in the Valley. The event will take place from 7 p.m. until midnight on Friday, September 13, at The Van Buren.
"We have such a diverse culture in our community,” says Levy. “Over 160 different languages are spoken in Phoenix alone. This is an opportunity to discover and enjoy music and food from our neighbors. We hope everyone will join us to explore our ‘Phoenix Unknown.’ It's going to be a great time.”
There will be four stages of local music located around the venue, located at 401 West Van Buren Street, that will suit your mood. The lineup includes Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra, local band Cafe Jaleo playing Colombian music, and the eclectic Djentrification spinning Thai and Cambodian funk.
"We are excited to host such a culturally diverse lineup of artists that live right here in Phoenix,” says Blair Brejtfus, talent buyer for Stateside Presents. “When we started booking the stages, we realized there were even more acts than we thought in our Phoenix music scene that embodied the sound of so many different parts of the world — from Afghan to Thai to Serbian to Burkina Faso. We hope this event helps shine a light on some lesser-known styles of music and artists."
On the culinary front, Chris Bianco will be representing Italy, but you can also grab some savory French food at Curbside Crepes, stop by Cornish Pasty Company for an Oggie, or sample some Ethiopian at Abyssinia Restaurant and Cafe.
Other food vendors include Phoenix Coqui, Chang Noi, and Belly — an upcoming, two-story Vietnamese bar and restaurant. It's the first Instrumental Hospitality Group concept, and it's actually premiering at the event. Wayne Coats, one of Instrumental Hospitality Group's members, says the team are thrilled to start sharing what they’ve been preparing for the Belly menu.
“We love doing downtown food events like this. It brings so many people together, and it’s amazing to eat so many new things all in the same place,” he says via email
Nabiha Bejaoui, a native of Tunis, Tunisia, is the owner and chef behind Habbouz Tunisian Cuisine, and yet another vendor. Bejaoui ran the restaurant location for two years in north central Phoenix, but it has now operated as a booth for three. She says she loves having the opportunity to showcase her food to Phoenix Unknown attendees like she so often does at the Open Air Market at the Phoenix Public Market Cafe. “I’d like to share some traditions through quality food,” Bejaoui says via email.
Tickets for this all-ages event are $17 in advance, and $22 at the door — with a portion of the proceeds going to the International Rescue Committee. And full disclosure: Phoenix New Times is a sponsor.
When asked, Levy says he's planning to put the festival on again next year. He answers, "If everybody has a good time, and the musicians and chefs want to come again, then yes."
The full lineup of bands and food vendors is below. A portion of the proceeds from the event will go to the International Rescue Committee in Phoenix. Visit
PAO Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra
Arroz Con Mango
Samba De Carvalho
DJ Grin The Peacemaker
Karen Culture Organization of Arizona
Las Chollas Peligrosas
Flamenco Por La Vida
Firebrass Village Blasting Club
Angelo's Italian Ice & Gelato
Ocho Rios Jerk Spot
The Beignet & Coffee Shack
Cornish Pasty Phoenix
Made in Argentina
The Ital Trap
Curry and Scoop/Tikka Bistro
Phoenix Culinary Collective
Habbouz Tunisian Cusine
Cafe Burundi African Restaurant
Rodain's Syrian Kitchen
Editor's Note: This is an updated version of a story that originally ran on August 7, 2019.
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