Places to eat and things to do in Downtown Phoenix.
January 5, 2010 12:35 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to be in downtown Phoenix for a couple days for a conference. What should I do with my spare time?

I'll be in Phoenix for a journalism workshop from Thursday, Jan. 7 until Sunday, Jan. 10. We'll be staying at the Sheraton (map) and the workshop itself will be at the ASU Cronkite school (map) a couple blocks away.

I really don't anticipate much free time. I'm looking for places to eat and interesting stuff to do at night--preferably within walking distance. I'm a college student. I like everything for food. I particularly like holes in the wall. As far as stuff to do at night goes, I like a more laid-back atmosphere. Bars are fine. A good place to wander around is fine. Clubs don't interest me. Is there anything I ought to do or must try while there?
posted by chris p to Travel & Transportation around Phoenix, AZ (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: America's Taco Shop! Delish hole in the wall.

Pizza Bianco -- lots of people say it's the best pizza in the US. (or Pane Bianco, for a much easier time getting in)

There's light rail up Central Ave now -- I moved away years ago and haven't tried it yet, but that should make life easier.
posted by kestrel251 at 12:46 PM on January 5, 2010

The Heard Museum.
posted by nestor_makhno at 1:19 PM on January 5, 2010

Best answer: You are mere blocks away from an oasis of awesome in the middle of the concrete desert that is Phoenix. Six blocks down S. 1st St, behind the US Airways Center, lies Alice Cooper'stown, half sports bar and half rock and roll bar. Decent food, good drinks, the decor can't be beat, and it's walkable from where you are. It's Alice Cooper's place - what else could one want?
posted by pdb at 1:19 PM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Matt's Big Breakfast is hands down the best breakfast food I've ever eaten at a restaurant.
posted by kensington314 at 1:29 PM on January 5, 2010

Best answer: you're also a block away from a lightrail stop. In 15-20min, it can take you to Mill Avenue, which is a prime college hang out place. And is part of ASU's main campus.
posted by maulik at 1:29 PM on January 5, 2010

This may not work for you given your full days, but when I was in that situation, I went and climbed Camelback Mountain one afternoon. Mind you, it damn near killed me.

Then, at the top, I overheard two women in spandex grousing about how their time was some two minutes slower than when they did it yesterday. That did actually kill me. I've technically been dead since 1997.
posted by Naberius at 2:02 PM on January 5, 2010

The Suns are hosting the Heat at the aforementioned US Airways Center on Friday evening and you don't have to be a big hoops fan to like the prospect of Steve Nash vs Dwayne Wade. Upper level tix from $18.
posted by i_cola at 3:04 PM on January 5, 2010

Best answer: Seconding Matt's Big Breakfast, but you will probably want to avoid trying to go on Saturday morning, the wait is ridiculous. I've been there on a weekday morning and was seated right away.

There's a farmer's market in the neighborhood on Saturday mornings, at the corner of Central and Pierce.

Maize's is a great place for lunch or dinner; it's right off the light rail at the Camelback and Central stop.

I like Cibo for pizza (my other favorite, Spinato's, would probably be too far), it's in the neighborhood.

Lost Leaf is a bar/art gallery at Fifth and Roosevelt, they have live music.
posted by lemonwheel at 4:11 PM on January 5, 2010

Best answer: Seconding the Lost Leaf and you should check out Civic Space Park at Central and Fillmore (right across the street from where you'll be). They have live music and art shows sometimes.
posted by entropyiswinning at 5:43 PM on January 5, 2010

Best answer: Phoenix is hard to do without a car, everything is so freaking far apart. The destination restaurants I know of that are close (not necessarily walking distance, but worth making a trip) are Pizzeria Bianco and Barrio Cafe. Ranch Market is also a lot of fun because it's an amazing Mexican grocery with a decent restaurant. For just hanging out and taking in the atmosphere, I'd also recommend taking the light rail to Mill Avenue. My brother-in-law lives on the ASU downtown campus and does that a lot because downtown Phoenix tends to be somewhat boring.
posted by TungstenChef at 6:51 PM on January 5, 2010

go to Lo Lo's chicken and waffles on 2nd and Yuma. mmm. The art museum and heard museum (both on central a bit north of mcdowell) are worth doing, and thai hut (across from the art museum) is pretty good too. The central library is fun if you like contemporary architecture. The light rail will take you to downtown tempe/mill ave if you like college bars. Pizzeria bianco is great, and not a super long wait if you're alone; note that it's only open for dinner, and pane bianco (aways up central, take the light rail) does sandwiches instead of pizza and is only open for lunch. same owner, very different restaurants.
posted by Chris4d at 6:55 AM on January 6, 2010

For food Pizzeria Bianco (and Pane Bianco) are great.. Another great place to eat is La Grande Orange.
posted by cowmix at 10:39 AM on January 6, 2010

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