Welcome to Phoenix's Melrose District, a 1-mile stretch of Seventh Avenue between Indian School and Camelback roads that’s home to some of the best antique shops, art, dining, patio cocktailing and dancing around.
Also known as “The Curve” for its winding nature in an otherwise grided city, and the “gayborhood,” thanks to its high concentration of LGBTQ+ bars and rainbow flags perched outside allied businesses, this neighborhood is an absolute must for a sense of this city's pride as well as its midcentury roots.
If Phoenix had a “Cheers,” Stacy’s @ Melrose would be it. Of course, there’s no way everyone could know your name if you’re just here for a visit, but it will quickly feel like your new home bar. That’s partly because this spot is a routine stop for all segments of the L, G, B, T, Q and plus — and there’s rotating events that cater to each. As the evenings cool off, this dance floor heats up!
4343 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix
Don’t let the subtle exterior fool you, The Rock is home to some of the city’s wildest karaoke, fiercest drag shows and other pop-up events in the showroom. Time your visit just right and you might catch Phoenix Coqui, the city’s only (and best) Puerto Rican food truck, parked outside before you head home. Pro tip: Get the tripleta fries.
4129 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix
As one of Phoenix’s only lesbian-owned and -operated bars (but welcoming to all), Boycott has been bringing a new flavor of ladies’ night to the Melrose District since 2017. Check for themed nights, pop-up events, guest DJs, drag shows and more.
4301 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix
Voted Best of the Valley by Phoenix Magazine for 2019, Charlie's Phoenix is the place to be for nightly entertainment, including drag, dancing, karaoke and bingo. Annually, this is the headquarters for the Arizona Gay Rodeo (which rides into town each February), as well as over-the-top parties on Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends, thanks to the expansive patio out back.
727 W. Camelback Road, Phoenix
Acting as an entry point to the Melrose neighborhood, Valentine takes everything that is hip about the American Southwest to a whole new level. You’ll find midcentury design chic (thanks to its fellow tenant Modern Manor), and depending on the time of day you go, a flurry of drinking and dining options. The churros and Chiltepin Shakerado are must-haves for brunch, the elote pasta is a dinner essential, and cactus(!) ice cream rounds out this dining experience.
4130 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix
Restaurant Progress is what happens if the coolest and craziest people you know open a restaurant and totally pull it off. The stylish space was designed and built out by chef-owner TJ Culp, and his design taste pairs perfectly with his skills in the kitchen. The seasonal menu is based off whatever Culp and his friends find interesting, so there's almost always a surprise or two, but never a disappointment. Put that alongside some killer cocktails, and this intimate space is the ideal date-night destination. Bonus points if you go to Thunderbird Lounge next door for a nightcap.
702 W. Montecito Ave., Phoenix
If you’ve wandered to the Melrose District for its midcentury charm, a visit to Thunderbird Lounge is a must. One part time capsule/arcade bar and one part secret garden patio, this low-key spot features DJs, live tunes and a variety of pop-up bites to pair with the craft cocktails and local pints.
710 W. Montecito Ave., Phoenix
This cozy restaurant in Phoenix’s Melrose District has turned its main attraction—a simple, deep-fried dough that’s filled with a variety of sweet or savory toppings—into an award-winning entrée. Cecelia Miller opened this hidden gem in 1992, and today her family carries on her legacy by giving guests a true taste of Tohono O'odham comfort food. The menu here is so notable that it garnered James Beard recognition in 2012, making it one of only three Arizona restaurants, and the first Native American restaurant, to win the James Beard America’s Classics award.
4545 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix
If Valentine is the entrance to Melrose, Belly is the exit. The small spot on the east corner of the north end is a love letter to South Asian cuisine, with a focus on Vietnamese-inspired plates. Like several of its restaurant neighbors, Belly’s space is meant for an intimate experience, with only a few tables and a few parking spots. But don’t worry — you can always pull up to the side for some takeout.
4971 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix
This long-standing drive-thru coffee shop is the perfect solution for every coffee chain hater out there. Housed in an old school gas station, Copper Star is very much a community coffee shop — you’ll get friendly at-home vibes from the baristas, even if you’re just visiting. Drive through for a quick pick-me-up of locally roasted coffee and pastries made in-house, including some special treats on the weekends, such as homemade Pop-Tarts.
4220 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix
A five-minute walk west from the north end of Melrose lands you at Southern Rail, inside The Newton. Here, chef Justin Beckett pairs his Southern twist on American classics, Arizona wine and a generous offering of small-batch bourbons with a primo location overlooking the Valley Metro Rail line (hence the name). Snag a table on the patio and enjoy some Phoenix people watching as you await your dirty rice croquettes, fried green tomatoes and ham hock-flecked collard greens.
300 W. Camelback Road, Phoenix
Among the newest additions to the sub-Melrose area (located one block south at Osborn Road), is Industry PHX. This is a space for everyone to enjoy comfort food, craft and artisan cocktails, local beers, sports and drag. Bonus points for the pinball and local artwork inside.
607 W. Osborn Road, Phoenix
If you've ever wished you could get your espresso from a vegan-goth coffee house mashup, look no further. Since opening in 2018, Dark Hall become a cult classic. Try the oat, cashew or "blend no 3" milk in a vvitch latte (spicy mocha, charcoal, cayenne and ghost pepper), but good luck deciding on a decadent dairy-free treat. There are a lot of great spots for a cup of joe in this city, but this one absolutely hits different — thanks to the unique vision of its super-trendy ownership. P.s. If you need a vegan meal, they are also the masterminds behind The Coronado (just a couple blocks away).
This offbeat vintage shop offers and eclectic, ever-changing collection of furniture, housewares, apparel and accessories. The eye-catching window displays give you just a taste of the time warp and treasures that you'll find inside.
4303 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix
Specializing in midcentury modern furniture, art, lighting and eclectic accessories, Modern on Melrose promises new pieces in daily. And, don't miss out of the cache of vintage lettering out back (hint: monogram photo op).
700 W. Campbell Ave. #10, Phoenix
This antiques showroom is filled of reclaimed furniture, artwork and other miscellany, but plan accordingly as it’s only open four days a month — but it’s oh so worth the wait.
4648 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix
Don’t let the name fool you, endless treasures of all kinds await you at this furniture and global import store. While there’s plenty of items that you’d, no doubt, have a hard time fitting in that carry on, the tchotchkes make it worth a browse.
4501 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix
Opened by Steve and Jonelle Kelly, authentic Arizona pickers, these two side-by-side shops in are only open four days each month — the third Thursday thru Sunday each month. But if vintage and antique home decor and collectibles are your idea of retail therapy, you’ll want to mark your calendar.
4628 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix
For a mural wall that’s as loud and proud as the LGBTQ+ community itself, this is the spot. Geremy Cites paired iconic desert landscape with the largest set of wings in town. P.S. They’re rainbow. This wall is highly visible on the building’s north side (if you’re approaching from the south, however, you might miss it).
4343 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix
Phoenix Indian Center partnered with National Congress of American Indians and Illuminative to paint a Native-themed get-out-the-vote mural. Created by artist Bunky Echo-Hawk in October 2020, this mural can be spotted while traveling north on Seventh Avenue (just after crossing the Grand Canal).
4545 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix
For PHX Mural Fest 2021, dozens of artists left their mark on the Grand Canalscape. Stroll along this waterway between Third and 15th avenues, and you’ll see a mosaic of sustainability-themed murals from some of the city’s best-known artists.
Enter off Seventh Avenue, between Joe's Diner and Artistic Arborist.
Located at the right next to the Grand Canalscape, this modest breakfast and brunch favorite recently received a new coat of paint that’s worth checking out. The eastern portion, by Thomas "Breeze" Marcus, is a tribute to the Hohokam’s design and engineering that resulted in the 1,000-mile, hand-dug canal system that was a key to resource survival. The western portion (pictured above), by Pablo Luna, is a nod to the history, uniqueness and character of Melrose architecture and features all the neighborhood’s most recognizable landmarks — a very midcentury modern vibe.
4515 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix
According to Mike Fornelli, executive director of Phoenix Pride, the diversity, openness and welcoming vibe of the Melrose District led to its selection as the site for one of Phoenix’s two rainbow crosswalks, at Seventh and Glenrosa avenues (the other is located at Central Avenue and Portland Street in downtown Phoenix). The rainbow crosswalks, which were unveiled in July 2018, “serve a bright and lasting symbol of our LGBTQ presence in the city and our past, present and future contributions to the community as a whole.”
Seventh Avenue, just north of Glenrosa Avenue.
On the first Saturday of March, the Seventh Avenue Merchants Association closes this stretch of "The Curve" to traffic and invites the community out to explore the businesses that call this district home. Each year, this one-day event grows in size and popularity, so expect to find a wide variety of vendors, artisans, food trucks, beer gardens, family activities, live music, Chester’s Classic Car Show and more.
Gay owned and operated since 2004, Exposed is a space that celebrates all forms of art across many mediums — including live body painting — and hosts rotating collections as well as pop-up events. Pieces come in all sizes, so you're welcome to browse as well as shop here.
Indigenous owned and operated, this studio space is an almost hidden gem that celebrates many forms of creative expression. Missy Mahan, Marcello Stefanik and Tone Chee decorate living canvases on a daily basis, and Tonya Dunn works her magic in the solon. While there are some items on display and available for purchase, appointments are required for tattoo and hair.
4206 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix
Rise Uptown, an adaptive reuse build in the uptown area, just north of the Melrose District, celebrated its grand opening Labor Day weekend 2020. As part of the $20 million, 79-room neighborhood hotel project, Venue Projects and Vintage Partners joined forces to restore twin midcentury modern towers. The property features a pool bar helmed by Ross Simon, local cocktail guru behind globally awarded cocktail bars Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour and Little Rituals. Guests are invited to enjoy poolside craft cocktails at the swim-up bar, fittingly named Lylo — a British colloquialism for a pool float. Additionally, Don Woods’ Say When, the hotel's 1,100 square-foot penthouse cocktail lounge, serves up retro-modern cocktails, throwback bar bites and 270-degree city views from the 2,000 square-foot view deck.
400 W. Camelback Road, Phoenix