YumBar serves fun and flavor at The Royale in Phoenix's Melrose District | Phoenix New Times

YumBar brings fun and flavor to the Melrose District

At The Royale's anchor restaurant, order a Pink Flamingo, a YumBurger and settle in for fun and food.
YumBar's cocktails are as colorful as the new Melrose District restaurant.
YumBar's cocktails are as colorful as the new Melrose District restaurant. Tirion Boan

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When a new spot opens in town, we're eager to check it out, let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead, a peek inside restaurants that have just opened — an occasion to sample a few items and satisfy curiosities (both yours and ours).

Walking into The Royale, you'd never guess that the turf-lined courtyard surrounded by small, local businesses was previously an auto body shop with a security fence and old car bays. The new neighborhood destination now welcomes customers inside the colorful and fun space. One of the brightest spots, which beckons with pink flamingoes and bright green doors, is YumBar.

The restaurant opened in January and is the anchor of the collective, owned by Royale founders Mark Howard and business partner, designer and architect Rocco Menaguale. Howard is no stranger to running restaurants in the Valley, and co-owns FEZ and the former downtown Phoenix hotspot Bliss ReBAR. The Melrose District, a stretch of Seventh Avenue dotted with rainbow flags and the highest concentration of gay bars in the Valley, is the home of the duo's latest project. And it's fit right in.

On Sundays, drag brunch takes over. Performers decked out in sparkling sequins jaunt down a flight of stairs in the high-ceilinged space, and tickets for tables are sold in advance. But on weekdays, YumBar is a casual, local restaurant that's tuned in to its neighborhood. And it's serving some above-average grub.

click to enlarge YumBar patio.
A large covered patio sits just across from the main dining room and features a pink flamingo theme.
Tirion Boan
The menu is split into brunch and dinner. On the dinner menu, there's a concise but well-executed variety of options ranging from decadent burgers and fries to healthier salads and bowls. For good measure, we tried one of each.

Ordering the signature YumBurger comes with about 20 questions. Do you want to add cheese and/or bacon? How would you like the burger cooked? Do you want fries or salad? What flavor of fries do you want? There are parmesan, rosemary and black pepper, barbeque spice, California chile spice or salt and pepper.

After the options are pondered and selected, it quickly arrives on the table. The burger includes a substantial patty that somehow has the craveable flavor or a razor-thin smash burger but the substance to fill you up. It's topped with a sundried tomato bacon relish, which brings a sweet and savory contrast similar to a more complex version of a PB&J burger. The soft, fluffy bun is toasted on both sides to provide a little structure to this hearty sandwich.

We opted to pair it with barbecue spice fries which had subtle flavor and provided a piping hot, fresh and well-salted side to this classic combo.

click to enlarge Burger and bowl at YumBar.
YumBar's main menu includes shareable appetizers, burgers, sandwiches and bowls.
Tirion Boan
For something a little lighter, try one of YumBar's bowl options. We picked the Sonoran Wheat Berry Bowl and, at the suggestion of our server, added grilled shrimp.

The bowl starts with chewy and nutrient-dense wheat berries which are similar to farro or barley. On top, there's a colorful arrangement of pinto beans, sliced jalapeño, roasted corn, grilled red bell pepper and cubed avocado. A chile-lime mayo comes on the side, and is best mixed through. The sauce adds moisture and a spicy kick. The just-cooked shrimp bring a pop of flavor to this fresh yet filling dish, creating a perfect weeknight dinner.

click to enlarge YumBar Interior.
YumBar's colorful decor reflects the cheery atmosphere of the space.
Tirion Boan
Whether you stop by for dinner inside the colorful dining room or brunch on the large, covered patio, don't skip the cocktails. The drinks don cutesy names like the Mark Daddy, Glenrosa Gaze and a quartet of margaritas named after the Golden Girls. We opted for the Pink Flamingo and the Bewitched.

Despite their whimsical names, these cocktails mean business. The Bewitched is made with Hendrix gin, celery bitters, simple syrup, lime juice. It's a crisp and almost savory sip perfect for those scared of anything too sweet. The Pink Flamingo is a little more of a party in a glass with gin, St. Germaine, strawberry puree, lemon juice and a sparkling rose float. A twist of orange peel tops it off.

The Pink Flamingo is almost the same color as the wallpaper that wraps the space, decorated with swirling giant flowers and leaves on a pink background. It's loud, bright and cheery, a vibe that YumBar encapsulates through its atmosphere, decor and music. It's easy to see how this has quickly become a gathering spot for friends and neighbors. While it's no longer an auto body shop, we suggest you roll in soon for fun and food.


635 W. Glenrosa Ave., #101
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