8 Things Locals Love in Downtown Phoenix

Walkability and indie character make Arizona’s cosmopolitan core a favorite for mega sports events
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Sponsored by Visit Phoenix

Earlier this year—as many Seattle Seahawks fans recall (painfully)—Phoenix hosted the Super Bowl. In just a few months, Phoenix will host college football’s version of the Super Bowl—the College Football National Championship. And, in 2017, Phoenix will be the site of another of the nation’s biggest sports spectacles—the NCAA Men’s Final Four.

Phoenix is the first city to ever host these three events back to back to back. One of the reasons? The city’s walkable, sun-warmed downtown is an ideal setting for fan-friendly fun.

But you don’t have to wait until title time to find out what the hoopla is about in downtown Phoenix. Below is a list of urban destinations that locals love.

1. Nobuo at Teeter House 

Owner Nobuo Fukuda is no stranger to winning: He received a James Beard Award for best chef in 2007, was named a Chef to Watch in Esquire magazine and earned a spot on the Best New Chefs of 2003 list from Food & Wine. Fukuda brings his inventive take on Japanese cuisine to Teeter House, a 114-year-old cottage in downtown’s Heritage Square.

2. Roosevelt Row

Roosevelt Row is a walkable creative district that USA Today recently included in its list of “The 10 Best Neighborhoods Tourists Haven’t Found Yet.” During the first Friday of every month visitors can expect to find gallery doors open and live music blaring on nearly every corner. RoRo is nationally known for its cultural events, indie restaurants and boutique shopping.

3. Crescent Ballroom

Crescent Ballroom is an intimate venue (capacity 550 people) in downtown Phoenix with live music every night, a lounge open daily with a full bar, and a locally sourced menu created by celebrated Phoenix chefs Chris Bianco and Doug Robson. The Crescent is a great place to chill out or catch a traveling indie band.

4. La Piazza PHX 

Thanks to its TV star turns and James Beard Award-winning chef, Pizzeria Bianco is Phoenix’s most famous pizza place, as evidenced by its long wait times for dinner. But just a few blocks away is La Piazza PHX, a favorite of Phoenix pizza aficionados who crave serious pie without the wait. This Napoletana-certified pizzeria was fawned over by Guy Fieri on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

5. Welcome Diner 

Located on the edge of Roosevelt Row, Welcome Diner is your place to come together with friends for delicious burgers, biscuits and gravy, and classic cocktails. Opened in 2003, this soulful throwback restaurant—which operates out of a nine-stool, 1940s-style diner with an outdoor patio—is a favorite of RoRo artists and neighborhood scenesters.

6. Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour

This stylish cocktail parlor, tucked inside Phoenix’s historic Luhrs Building—which, ironically, was the former prohibition headquarters of Arizona—has a friendly Scottish barman and a no-standing-at-the-bar policy (to encourage civility). Its cocktail list is 24 pages long.

7. Gypsy Bar

This 10,000-square-foot entertainment venue offers a full dinner menu (including a grilled apple and brie quesadilla, short rib mini burgers and crispy fish tacos), a fully loaded game lounge with 40 arcade games, and a massive dance floor energized by top DJs, confetti cannons and light shows. It’s located on the second story of the CityScape entertainment district, next door to Lucky Strike bowling alley and the Stand Up Live comedy club.

8. Phoenix Public Market Café

This casual, urban hangout serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a health-focused assortment of hearty sandwiches, crisp salads, freshly baked pastries and more. You can also enjoy a cup of coffee on the patio or glass of fine wine at the bar. The market is regularly packed with folks from the neighborhood as well as students from Arizona State’s nearby downtown Phoenix campus.

For more information about things to do in downtown Phoenix, visit www.visitphoenix.com.