Phoenix Public Market Cafe: A Lively Space With the Occasional Letdown

You can hardly help joining the hustle and bustle at downtown's Phoenix Public Market Cafe, and that's kind of the point.

You may move from the outdoor herb garden at the restaurant's entrance to shelves of for-sale local products until arriving at a pastry case of homemade baked goods (think jumbo cookies, cinnamon rolls, and vegan granola bars) next to the ordering counter. And an abundance of seating options -- stools, padded benches, community tables, sofas -- means you'll probably wander around a bit before deciding to settle in at the indoor-outdoor bar, desert-landscaped patio, front lounge, or casual dining area.

The scene would be idyllic if not for the sometimes lackluster eats.

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Here's an excerpt from this week's review:

"The same caraway-heavy coleslaw tops the $9.50 barbecue pulled pork, which, along with a too-strong sauce, effectively snuffs out the taste of the mesquite-roasted meat. And the salad at the same price, called the Chino, is more or less a tedious bowl of onion-y cole slaw frugally strewn with bits of chicken, cashews, and a few thin strands of rice noodles huddled at the bottom of the bowl.

But if you don't mind gnawing your way through the chewy, impossible-to-cut open-face Roosevelt Row Bagel for its very good slatherings of lemony hummus and chunky avocado, you'll be rewarded with a satisfying light lunch or snack -- even if your dining companions have to point out your efforts have left a microgreen or two on your face. There's also a supremely fresh and colorful salad with marinated, steamed, and raw seasonal veggies that taste as if they were plucked from the nearest neighborhood garden that morning."

Hungry for more? Read my full review of Phoenix Public Market Cafe.

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