The biggest part of the revamp is of course the new lounge and dining areas. The 3,400-square-foot space also added a pastry case to the new full-service counter, new menu boards, high-top tables (that replaced a couple of booths), and a vibe that encourages the new community-style seating.
A fun perk of the new dining area is all the neon communication. One bright-blue neon sign reads "You had me at coffee." Another announces the name of the restaurant in bright pink. Gennaro Garcia artwork is everywhere, which keeps things busy to the eye. Let’s just say if you ever get stuck waiting for the check, you’ll have something to look at in the meantime.
Some dishes worth mentioning include the BLT Salad — toasted Noble bread topped with applewood-smoked bacon, heirloom tomatoes, basil, bell peppers, and pine nut gremolata. It's then surrounded by soft chunks of mozzarella and an oily blue cheese sauce. The longer it sits, meaning the more time the Noble bread has to soak up the sauce and oil, the better it tastes. It’s more of a deconstructed sandwich than anything resembling a salad, but it’s good.
The pan-seared salmon also comes recommended. The pink filet is buried beneath a pile of broccolini, garlic, shallots, tomato, kale, and farro, but it’s the coconut vinaigrette that hits your senses first. The sweet coconut smell has your fork digging in before you even know what's happening. You’ll then be focused on getting a good, well-mixed bite of salmon, veggies, and that vinaigrette every time.
Cocktails with locally sourced mix-ins are abundant, as the cafe's reputation would lead you to believe. The popular Lee Trevino and sangria survived the revamp, but some specific-to-Tempe cocktails are worth an order.
Especially Schrute Farm — yes, that Schrute Farm — with mezcal, lime, simple syrup, a celery shrub adornment, and of course, beet juice. It’s a beautiful shade of purple-pink, and the mezcal is present without being too smoky. Someone who doesn’t necessarily care for mezcal would enjoy this Dwight Schrute-themed drink.
This reopening is also in alignment with chef and restaurateur Aaron Chamberlin announcing last week he's stepping away from the Tempe establishments: the Tempe Public Market Café and the neighboring Ghost Ranch. He said he and his former restaurant partner, David Chamberlin, have decided to separately oversee their own restaurants. "This was a hard decision, but the right one!" Aaron Chamberlin said via Instagram.
There are bike racks, seats on the patio, bistro lights, and well-made cocktails. But above all, there's good food (even if it's priced a little on the high end). It seems to be playing to the more lively crowd of the southeast Valley — those who may be sick of traveling to downtown Tempe or Phoenix.
Either way, the new spot is worth checking out even if you're just interested in a drink and a peek at the remodel.
For hours and more information, check out the Tempe Public Market Café website.