Welcome to Dining Guides, an intermittent series on the many dining hubs around the greater Phoenix area and what they have to offer. Breakfast to drinks, quick coffee to sit-down dining, we break down some of our favorite places in each neighborhood. Today, we want to zero in on Roosevelt Row.
Roosevelt Row has seen a lot of action in recent years. It was once that cool, janky part of town known for First Fridays, art spaces and galleries, shows at The Modified, and a bar or two. But now, it’s more or less a dining hub thanks to incoming taco and barbecue joints, ale houses, and dinner.
Here’s a quick guide on where to go when you find yourself in the Roosevelt Arts District, from coffee to something called the Moonlight Menu.
333 East Roosevelt Street
Jobot may not be everyone’s cup of tea — partially because of the blaring punk or hardcore music that is typically playing or maybe because if you sit on the patio you might have to (gasp) talk to a homeless person — but boy, that patio kicks butt. Most coffeehouses in town have a couple of tables outside or don’t have anywhere to sit outdoors at all, so when the weather is actually nice, there’s no coffeehouse we’d rather haunt than Jobot with its ample out-front seating and insane open-all-night hours. That’s not to mention the incomparable people-watching, which yields an array of tattoos and piercings you may not have even known were possible.
214 East Roosevelt Street
Open at 6 a.m. daily, Be Coffee is your go-to spot at the crack of dawn. This joe joint is housed inside the monOrchid gallery, so feel free to stroll past the art while waiting for your cup. The spicy cold brew comes highly recommended for an extra kick (or go with the spicy white chick with a topping of white chocolate ganache), or sip on a traditional latte if you would rather keep it classy. If your stomach is already growling, try the English ham and Muenster, a breakfast sandwich with scrambled eggs served on a griddled MJ muffin, or the Schreiner’s Spanish chorizo scramble. Be Coffee’s peanut butter chocolate chip cookie is sure to satisfy a sweet tooth, and the generous serving means that you will probably have leftovers for your trek through the city.
888 North First Avenue
Whether you prefer OG waffles or their adventurous red velvet cousins, Daily Jam has the best in Arizona, according to the Food Network. Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., so don’t sweat it if you prefer to sleep in. Take your pick between simple items like yogurt and granola or oats and berries, variations on eggs Benedict, chilaquiles with fresh corn tortillas, lots of omelets, and sautes — sauteed potatoes topped with grilled vegetables and two “almost hard” fried eggs. If none of that sounds appealing, you can always BYOS — build your own sandwich — or slurp down a smoothie. The PB+J is a personal favorite, made with soy milk, blueberries, strawberries, and peanut butter.
Trapp Haus BBQ
511 East Roosevelt Street
This Roosevelt Row barbecue restaurant is a temple to originality. Murals and painted barbecue slang coat the walls. Aggressive flavors spring from meat. Proprietor Phil “the Grill” Johnson, who calls himself “the Jay-Z of barbecue,” attacks the process of seasoning with uncommon verve. Where many of the best metro Phoenix barbecue restaurants employ spices and sauces with restraint — with the goal of showcasing the meat’s nuances — Johnson dials up all flavors as highly as possible. A must try at Trapp Haus BBQ? The Philly Crack wings.
501 East Roosevelt Street
Set in the heart of Roosevelt Row, Taco Chelo is beautifully designed restaurant with a tailored menu of starters, tacos, veggies, and a slew of fun cocktails. It’s a collaboration between main chef Suny Santana, artist Gennaro Garcia, and restaurateur Aaron Chamberlin. It’s home to the famous chicharrones, sprinkled with chimayo chile and accompanied by sides of lime, guacamole, and Cholula sauce. Other lunch items include tacos, salads, and quesadillas.
128 East Roosevelt Street
Touting itself as Roosevelt Row’s favorite bistro, Carly’s is open during the week from 10:30 a.m. to midnight, and from 10 a.m. to midnight on Saturdays and Sundays. With funky artwork, local performers, diner vibes, and views of the city skyline, consider it your all-day spot. The menu offers appetizers like creamy jalapeño artichoke dip and chicken, cheese, or chorizo quesadillas, plus soups, salads, sandwiches, and desserts. There’s also a list of rotating draft and bottled craft beer and wine. Check its calendar for upcoming events like trivia night, jazz brunch, and a “buzzed spelling bee.” Count us in.
Angels Trumpet Ale House
810 North Second Street
This RoRo spot is known for three things — craft beer that can come from one of 31 taps, a breezy beer garden and patio section, and that food menu. We recommend the hot pretzel if you just want a snack. It’s a big golden brown pretzel with a dusting of chunk salt. And Angels Trumpet being the alehouse that it is, it serves its hot pretzel with warm beer cheese made with non other than Four Peaks Sunbru Kolsch and spicy Dijon mustard.
Cobra Arcade Bar
801 North Second Street, #100
Cobra Arcade Bar features 40 vintage arcade games, 14 beers on tap, and several arcade-themed cocktails like Krazy Kong and the Garbage Pail Kid. Customers are allowed to bring in their own food, especially from the food trucks and carts set up outside from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday through Sunday. You can even order a pizza and have it delivered there whenever you want.
Arizona Wilderness Co.
201 East Roosevelt Street
The Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. downtown Phoenix beer garden opened in early 2019 with the goal of being the living room of Roosevelt Row. Its biggest draw is the patio, covered with a sunshade and able to seat dozens and dozens of people. We’re talking 650 people. It’s also right against the street, so people watching can happen while sipping that Sonoran Prince or another fantastic beer, as well as Arizona wine and on-tap cocktails. There’s also food — upscale pub fare like burgers, salads, and fries — and an indoor seating area.
The Lost Leaf Bar and Gallery
914 North Fifth Street
This place can almost be considered a old haunt of Roosevelt Row (that’s a crack on all the new development). The folks behind The Lost Leaf are pretty sincere about their beer. The bohemian-style drinkery and gallery, housed in a vintage 1930s-era domicile, offers a selection of more than 100 different kinds of ales, lagers, stouts, and other intoxicating brews available by the bottle. If that isn’t enough to wet your whistle, the Lost Leaf also serves a host of wines, meads, and even sake, to boot.
The Dressing Room
214 East Roosevelt Street
Housed inside monOrchid, right next to Be Coffee on Roosevelt Row, The Dressing Room pays homage to the building’s former life as a a dressing room to one of the city’s first drag bars. If that doesn’t intrigue you, maybe an order of chorizo poutine or Korean pork belly fried rice will do the trick. It’s no wonder the food is so inventive and on-point; Executive chef Malone Deever cut his teeth at Arcadia favorite Beckett’s Table (before spending time in his native Charleston, South Carolina, to revamp many restaurants as chef de cuisine). This mini eatery has two dog-friendly patios and a full bar. Try the spiced chai with Puerto Rican rum, chai tea, and coconut milk. To end the experience on a sweet note, the restaurant’s churro ice cream sandwich with Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream is well worth the calories.
PAZ Cantina & Cafe
330 East Roosevelt Street
Chef Johanna Loarte has been back cooking Mexican favorites since fall 2018, as PAZ had to pause operations for some Roosevelt Row construction. But now, expect tortas, tacos, burritos, and salads on the menu, with staples like flautas and enchiladas are sprinkled in. You’ll find many of the usual suspects, like carne asada, chicken tinga, nopales, and barbacoa. Though the restaurant describes its food as “traditional Mexican,” there are modern touches: tight zigzags of crema, fries in one taco, a horchata cold brew.
Melt Ice Cream Shop
333 East Roosevelt Street
Located in Jobot in central Phoenix, this tiny ice cream shop sources its offerings from local producers including Karen’s Creamery & Udder Delights. As such you can expect a pretty diverse selection at Melt that can include anything from Fruity Pebbles and lemongrass poppyseed to beer and pretzels and chocolate rose pistachio. What might be an even bigger draw is Melt’s unexpected ice cream presentation: Your scoop will come in a tiny Chinese to-go container with a fortune cookie perched on top.
Bliss / reBAR
901 North Fourth Street
Bliss Rebar is the ultimate late-night hangout. There’s liquor, a big airy patio, and the Moonlight Menu from 10 p.m. to midnight. There’s actual food like the Bliss Famous Mac and Cheese, burgers, sandwiches, and salads, plus quick snacks like chips and salsa, fried pickles, and those classic chicken tenders. Plus there’s a full bar, so you could just have some drinks. Last call for food is 11 p.m.