Every city has a vibe of its own, and Arizona’s Valley of the Sun is made up of many charismatic municipalities. Dive into the local culture of Phoenix and Scottsdale by learning insiders’ top stops for local beans, shops, brews and eats, as picked by the in-the-know local editors of Where magazine.
Wake up with a cup of fresh-roasted joe from Cartel Coffee Lab. The original roast house is in Tempe, with additional locations in downtown Phoenix and Scottsdale. (If you run out of time to catch Cartel on one of your full days here, you’re still in luck if you’re flying from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport; Cartel staffs an efficient count in Terminal 4 not far from the gates.)
Head southeast to Queen Creek, a suburban, family-filled town, home to family-run Queen Creek Olive Mill. Olives are sourced from the 7,500 olive trees on the 120-acre farm, which are then stuffed, jarred or pressed and infused for olive oils with a variety of flavor profiles, from Meyer lemon to bacon. The olive mill holds regular tastings, tours, classes, music events and festivals, and runs a marketplace and eatery onsite.
Back in Phoenix, pop into Bunky Boutique near Phoenix Art Museum to grab a T-shirt or ball cap bearing Arizona’s silhouette or Phoenix’s airport abbreviation (PHX). Then cruise to Biltmore Fashion Park, where the independently owned, boutique-like stalls of UNION offer a funky foil to the international designer brands prevalent elsewhere on the property. UNION units include For the People, gifts and home accessories; Ooo!, specialty gifts, apparel and home furnishings; Mae and Marie, fashionable children’s apparel; Short Leash Hot Dogs, which originated from a Phoenix food truck; Forge Pizza, serving local produce and brews; and even Olives & Oils—a product pantry from the aforementioned Queen Creek Olive Mill. Need more places to shop where you can find a little piece of Arizona to take home with you? Try our boutiques guide to Phoenix.
Arizona now has more than 60 breweries, all doing brisk business, and too many of them to visit in one day have tasting rooms within the Valley of the Sun. Best-known is Four Peaks Brewery, with locations in Tempe and Scottsdale, but the smaller start-ups are just as worth a try. Tempe’s Blasted Barley recently released its first brew—an almost-chewy chocolate-orange stout—and serves up a long list of local drafts; Phoenix Ale Brewery has a watermelon wheat ale to tempt the adventuresome drinker; Scottsdale’s Papago Brewing serves a coconut-oatmeal stout and allows customers to grab a can or bottle themselves from the stockpiled cooler of well-known and not-so-known names; and Chandler’s Perch Pub & Brewery infuses cinnamon, ginger and rosemary into beers that are enjoyed in the bird-inhabited courtyard. In the mood for a cocktail, instead? We’re OK with that. Try our guide to craft cocktail bars in Phoenix.
Phoenix-Scottsdale’s restaurants work hard to create a local-to-farmer connection, as proved in this guide to locally sourced cuisine and farm-to-table restaurants. If you’re seeking eateries with a local vibe, know that one city block of Central Avenue alone is host to five concepts run by one restaurant group, Upward Projects. Choose among street tacos at Joyride Taco House; wine and bruschetta at Postino WineCafe; innovatively topped pies at Federal Pizza, or upscale bar food and Prohibition-era cocktails at Windsor. Then top off a meal with homemade ice cream at Churn.