A few short years ago, North 7th Street was an unremarkable artery through an older Phoenix residential neighborhood. Strip malls, small shops, automotive repair spots and nondescript office buildings catered to the needs of the locals—nothing that screamed "must-see destination."
Recently, though, savvy developers and restaurateurs have converted many of the street's mid-century buildings into gleaming cocktail bastions of the culinary and cocktail arts. Explore a half-mile stretch of 7th Street roughly between Missouri Avenue and Rose Lane to find everything from freshly made pastas and grits flecked with fennel and mushrooms to Sinatra-era adult beverages and craft beers.
From south to north, here are just a few of our favorite spots.
The gastropub's name is a nod to a nearby bridle path, and its location anchors The Colony, a revamped two-story, mid-century retail center where beauticians once bought shampoo and dye supplies. The rustic/modern interior is centered on a huge bar, and a street-side patio beckons on balmy nights. Inventive menu options include Philly cheese steak egg rolls and fermented beets with goat cheese curds, while comfort food fans will like the short rib stroganoff and the lemon-scented crab mac and cheese.
Must-try dish: Beer butt chicken, served with grilled lemon
This lounge has a speakeasy vibe, starting with its entrance, tucked behind Stock & Stable, up a flight of exterior stairs. The inside is moody—coffered ceilings, wood-paneled walls and cozy club chairs—perfect for hiding out and enjoying a strong beverage, plus a nibble on bar snacks. Beer and wine choices abound, but, naturally, the mixologists will encourage you to sample a classic, like the gin-based Corpse Reviver or the regionally inspired, vodka-centric Rocky Point Rendezvous.
Must-try cocktail: Ryes & Fall, a mix of rye, citrus juices, ginger and créme de violette
Culinary Dropout's 7th Street home is The Yard, a series of brick buildings and a vast metal canopy that started out in the 1950s as a Triumph car showroom and, later, a motorcycle dealership before morphing recently into a restaurant compound. The restaurant's a big, casual, indoor-outdoor place where you can play ping-pong or cornhole in between beers or sit down to enjoy 36-hour pork ribs, fried chicken drizzled with honey or the smoked salmon served with toasted ciabatta and a poached egg.
Must-try dish: Soft pretzel bites with provolone fonduue
Occupying a smaller space at The Yard, dinner-only Little Cleo's deisn roots spring from East Coast train-station oyster bars: think gleaming subway tiles, zinc counters and swiveling bar stools. When it's warm, glass garage doors roll up to link the interior with the patio.
The food? Super-fresh seafood, brought in daily, witha a menu that dives into scallop crude, oysters on the half shell and grilled octopus, as well as traditional fish and chips, lobster rolls and bouillabaisse.
Must-try dish: "Bacon and eggs," made with sturgeon bacon, crème fraiche, an egg and toast.
One of the newest kids on the block, the restaurant is helmed by celebrity chef Scott Conant ("Top Chef," "Chopped"), who brings an updated osteria style to the menu. The setting is a gleaming white building that includes a shady patio and an interior marked by lipstick-red seating, intricate tile work and rustic wood accents.
Don't miss the signature appetizer—hearty breads served with several spreads, then continue the gluten fest with pastas such as strozzapreti laced with duck ragu and truffles. Pizzas and entrees like roasted halibut round out the offerings.
Must-try dish: Pasta al pomodoro, a classic
In 1963, Maureen and Andy Womack, opened up Chez Nous in Phoenix, a swanky, French-influenced cocktail lounge that was a beloved water hole for decades before it was razed for redevelopment. The late couple went on to build two more lounges, one of which still stands on 7th Street. It's been renamed in an homage to the original owners, and the renovation reflects their sexy '60s aesthetic, complete with low lighting, mirrored ceilings, retro booths and flocked wallpaper. There's live music, too—danceable R&B, funk and soul.
Must-try cocktail: Amaretto sour, a definite throwback
Across the breezeway at Crown on 7th, this gastropub celebrates craft beers with 16 on tap and food that complements those ales, IPAs and porters. Try the root-beer brined and smoked pork shoulder tacos, Alaskan cod and chips or the brisket, bacon and prosciutto sandwich. The menu has helpful beer-pairing suggestions, and, for non-beer drinkers, wine and cocktails can be had. The restaurant's decor? Upscale industrial loft, imbued with a beer-hued color scheme.
Must-try combo: A thin-crust, black iron pizza and a King George amber.
If you're willing to drive a bit farther south and north, you'll find plenty of spots on 7th Street that cater to your sweet tooth. Here are a few worth putting on your sugar radar.
A tiny vegan bakery/coffeehouse where you can score chai fritters and peanut butter chocolate cupcakes, then not hate yourself too much in the morning.
A 1929 soda fountain, enveloped in an antiques shop. Sit at the vintage counter and go back in time with a banana split, black cow, milkshake or pie a la mode.
Get pineapple-coconut cookies, orange blossom cupcakes, ginger-sesame baked doughnuts, coffee and more at this modern, chef-driven bakery.
A Phoenix favorite since 1951, the made-on-site ice cream includes the usual suspects, plus flavors like black licorice, salted caramel cashew, burgundy cherry and banana.
Sure, there are savory pot pies, but pie snobs come for the chocolate coconut cream, orange meringue, key lime or brown sugar peach varieties—among many others.
About the author: Nora Burba Trulsson
Nora Burba Trulsson has lived in the Phoenix area since before the dawn of the light rail and bike share. Her writing about travel, food, design and sustainability has appeared in such publications as Arizona Highways, Sunset, The Chicago Tribune, the Arizona Official State Visitor’s Guide and the Official Travel Guide to Greater Phoenix.
This story was originally printed in the 2018 Visit Phoenix Official Travel Guide, published by Madden Media.
The celebrity chef, known for "Chopped", "Top Chef", and his many other restaurants, joins the Phoenix culinary scene.
In Midtown and Uptown, eat/drink/shop gathering places thrive where strip malls once stood.
Follow this food trail along Central Avenue to experience many of the best restaurants in CenPho.
Get our emails with the biggest events, deals and other cool things in the Greater Phoenix area.