Where: Phoenix Public Market Cafe
When: 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily
Dish: The Evans-Churchill
Price: $13.10 (including tax and tip)
The Setting: Even though the Phoenix Public Market Cafe is a wide open space, the downtown restaurant still feels warm and cozy. Located at 14 E. Pierce Street, the eatery offers ample parking and tables sized for all kinds of gatherings—we could imagine coming here for a book club meeting just as easily as a date. Although diners order at the counter and tables are pre-stocked with silverware, the exposed wood and brick interior and beautiful chandeliers give the space an elevated feeling not found at many other counter service joints.
During our visit the atmosphere at Phoenix Public Market was lovely. Although Christmas music was playing quite loudly, the vibe was festive not tacky thanks to the generally understated holiday decor. The outdoor patio had a huge fireplace, which we would absolutely come back to sit by with a cocktail on a cool winter night.
The Food: Phoenix Public Market Cafe has a lengthy menu with a healthy slant (though non-healthy options are plentiful as well). It's a breakfast/lunch/dinner spot and also a full bar. Breakfast offerings include chickpea pancakes served with olive oil, bananas, pecans, and agave syrup ($7.95), and the Flanched Flarney Garney, a scrambled egg sandwich with chunky avocado, mayo, bacon, and cheddar cheese ($8.95). We chose the Evans-Churchill, an interesting-sounding combo of poached eggs, market vegetables, quinoa, pesto, and agave syrup.
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The Good: The Evans-Churchill is a fairly big bowl of food, and it was beautifully presented with bright green pesto atop white poached eggs. Large chunks of steamed broccoli were placed on one side of the bowl and kept much of their crunch in the cooking process. A sauté of onions, red peppers, and fennel took up the other side of the dish and had specks of charred onion and pepper which added a bit of complexity to the veggies. Both the vegetables and eggs tasted fresh, and the eggs were perfectly poached—the whites were cooked through and the yolks spilled over the dish after we broke them, mixing with the pesto to create a sauce.
The Bad: The quinoa under the veggies and eggs was seriously lacking in flavor. And the veggies, while fresh, were also fairly bland. We added some salt to our dish, but it didn't make it more exciting. The pesto was tasty but lost all of its punch when combined with the other ingredients. The agave syrup didn't really add sweetness to the dish—if it hadn't been on the menu, we wouldn't have known it was there.
All In All: The Evans-Churchill was a healthy breakfast option and obviously freshly made, but the Phoenix Public Market Cafe definitely sacrificed some deliciousness for the sake of health. The high quality ingredients, varied menu, and inviting atmosphere make us want to come back — but unless we're on a detox, we'll be choosing something with a little more flavor (and fat, most likely) than the Evans-Churchill next time.