…okay so I know I titled this “eating our way” but we really ate and drank our way through Phoenix.
To kick things off, we started our adventure on Friday afternoon at Mother Bunch Brewing. This is one of the newest breweries in downtown Phoenix, open for about two years now, and it is helping the craft brew scene truly emerge in Phoenix. We had some time to sit down and chat with owner, Julie Meeker, who explained the hand-crafted beer and how they use only the finest ingredients for their creations. This is not your typical bar food scene where owners slap a little this and a little that, and hope the wing tastes good in the end. Chef Holly Arguello is meticulous about perfecting each and every single dish, while using the best ingredients, and finding a perfect balance of spices. While it may still be labeled “bar food”, the quality of the food is far superior to any other brewery, bar or sports venue I’ve ever tasted.
The artwork inside was so beautiful featuring local artists, which I am always a big fan of. The building itself is historic so Julie and her team have to be careful when making adjustments, because changes to historic buildings require approval from multiple people. The brick walls, exposed ceiling, hanging lamps and a view of the beer-making equipment, just adds to the overall ambience. We sipped on beers #1-8 which you can read about here. Then we enjoyed some plates to share, including house smoked olives, wings, bacon popcorn, the beer mac ‘n’ cheese trio and salty pork grinds. The photos below having me drooling on my laptop right now!
To finish things off, we even got a tour of the facility in the back to see where all the magic happens.
After such an incredible lunch, we headed to the Phoenix Art Museum, to visit the newest fashion exhibit: Definite Moments: 50 Years of Fashion at Phoenix Art Museum.
There were so many beautiful pieces pulled from the past 50+ years of fashion. Some of the biggest designers today had beautiful work many years ago too. I’m talking Alexander McQueen, YSL, Balenciaga, Christian Dior and Chanel. Throughout the exhibit, placards next to each piece provided additional insight regarding how the particular piece was acquired and how it became an internationally respected piece. I’m so glad this was part of the itinerary because I absolutely adore fashion, whether it’s then or now, and it was really interesting to see the differences. I included some of my favorites down below, but it was truly an incredible exhibit.
The Phoenix Art Museum changes their exhibits frequently so make sure to stay up to date on their latest and greatest because there is sure to be an exhibit that will peak your interest!
After galavanting through the halls of the fashion exhibit, our next stop was Bitter and Twisted Cocktail Parlour. While I’m not the best with directions, and T-Maybe was failing me at the time, I finally found this parlour tucked on the opposite side of the street from CityScape.
It is housed in a soaring, window-lined space inside an elegant 10-story brick and stone early 20th century building that was finished in 1924. Bitter and Twisted combines a world-class cocktail lounge with a neighborhood bar’s sensibilities. It is a true modern cocktail establishment, but also carries a rich history in the city of Phoenix, serving as the former nerve center of Arizona’s prohibition headquarters (ooooh history) back when the residents dressed in top hats and risqué ankle-baring dresses and commuted to downtown via electric streetcars and Ford Model Ts.
As soon as we walked in, we felt the vibe and how eclectic and fun it was. Around 5 PM on Friday, it was quite busy with that after-work crowd relaxing and having a few drinks to take the edge of a long week. We sat up at the bar, and were entertained by both bartenders. They were fabulous and made it such a show for everyone using skill and finesse for each and every single cocktail. Even the menu had such finite detail, and the cocktail list was endless – mmm dreamy! This parlour is an absolute must if you like a good cocktail, and a unique experience featuring history in a modern twist.
Now the day was rivaled with incredible stops so it was no wonder that dinner was the best meal we’ve had in several years (probably since our first trip to Norway.) Blue Hound Kitchen and Cocktails is where you must make your reservation this weekend, the weekend after that and for many weekends to come. You can thank me later!
Blue Hound has a modern look and feel to it, with a unique twist. When it came to the shared plates and entrees, there was such artful pairing of seasonal food with handcrafted cocktails from the bar. The head bartender concocted his own homemade drinks, all which were more delicious than the last. Throughout the experience, you really get a homey vibe and we felt comfortable in this modern chic restaurant digging into ribs, salmon and the likes.
In terms of the shared plates, there were pork ribs, BHKC deviled eggs, avocado toast (three ways), shishito peppers (with delicious sesame seeds and sriracha aioli), and a delicious salad. Cocktails were flowing from the start of dinner, to the very end. After digging into all of the delicious apps, we were already stuffed but the kitchen kept making more delicious food so we had to keep eating. Rough life, I know 😉
In terms of entrees, we were brought shrimps and grits, blackened salmon, and pork shank. I honestly can’t explain which one tasted better than the other because they were all so tasty. I love salmon, but I also love shrimp so the tie for best entree was between those two. The pork shank easily glided off the bone because of how tender it was *licks lips*
I will say my absolute favorite cocktail was Montezuma’s Nightcap which has monkey shoulder scotch with biscotti liqueur, crème de cacao and oak smoke. I love oakiness in cocktails, salami, basically everything so this was outstanding in its own right.
Can we also take a moment to appreciate all of these food shots? We sat next to the large glass windows and the light was fantastic. I have to give Blue Hound a huge round of applause for their service, kindness, quality of food and food presentation. Truly a remarkable experience, and one I would highly encourage you to try!
After that incredible dinner, we went bowling at Lucky Strike which was right at CityScape. Not only was the service incredible, but the entire bowling alley was popping with music and there was even a nightclub in a separate area playing completely different music. Lucky Strike has some seriously upscale party spots, sophisticated menus, full-service bars, and the atmosphere is so fun. I would love to have an event here, so I’ll be adding this venue as part of a girls weekend in the future.
The next morning (Saturday) was a “late” wake-up for us (8 AM) since we normally wake up around 6, so that was really nice. We noticed the previous evening that Hotel Palomar, where we were staying for the weekend, had left a delicious gift for us.
Our hotel was a Kimpton property, and it’s a recent addition in the downtown area which I definitely enjoyed. It’s nice to see such a great property downtown close to all of the shopping, entertainment and dining at CityScape. I would consider this a boutique hotel with 242 guest rooms and suites, all extremely modern with views of the city. Upon check in, and throughout the stay, we felt like we were right at home. It was comfortable, clean and the service was always excellent. That delicious dinner I mentioned earlier? It’s in the hotel as Blue Hound is the hotel’s on-property restaurant.
After enjoying the nice gift from the property, we headed off to do some more eating. Phoenix Public Market Café is a super casual urban spot for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Offering ingredients sourced directly from Arizona’s largest farmer’s market, the local taste and feel to the food is absolutely fantastic. I ordered my usual breakfast, the simple breakfast with some eggs, toast, potatoes while he ordered the biscuits and gravy. He said the biscuits and gravy was the best he’s ever tasted, which is a huge accolade to this wonderful cafe. We were also suckered into taking the cinnamon roll with us, which my boyfriend ate most of, but it tastes just as incredible as it looks!
After breakfast, I had to take some photos from the hotel’s third-floor outdoor pool terrace in my adorable Cabana Life suit.
After all the fun and excitement in the morning, the afternoon panned out to be relaxing, calm and so incredibly fun. The Mr. dropped me off at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa. This property is truly one of the country’s most lauded luxury resorts, as it is a striking boutique property on Camelback Mountain.
I started the afternoon at the Lunch and Learn, featuring Chef Allen Susser. Chef Susser is a James Beard award-winning artisan with a passionate commitment to local, fresh ingredients. He really wowed all of us and made it clear that he, not only had a lot of skill, but his love for the food he was making was vast.
We kicked off the meal with an avocado aji amarillo ceviche with the most refreshing and delicious mango mojito. The fish, a passion fruit roasted cobia with bok choy and fingerlings, was incredibly delicious. It melted right on my tongue. Throughout the experience, there was so much description and explanation about the food and what flavors we would taste, which amplified the entire experience and the tastes I experienced. As a closer, we had a bittersweet chocolate kweyol rum mousse, which was so delicious and clung to your tongue for a few extra seconds, really letting you indulge and enjoy that chocolate.
Wine was flowing throughout the event, so walking to my massage after this was a breeze. As I wound my way through the property, I landed at the spa. The spa has a serene, tranquil and relaxed sense to it. As soon as I walked in, I was greeted and walked throughout the spa facility. Then I was left at my locker to change and put all my belongings away (including my camera!) Finally a nice break from social media, vlogging, snapchatting, and so on. It was truly nice to take a break.
I was treated to a 90-minute wild lime blossom massage by Patrick, who was fabulous. While I normally go for a female, I actually have to say Patrick gave me the best massage I’ve ever gotten and I’ve been getting them for years! This was a full body massage, with the addition of the scalp treatment.
After the massage, I snagged one of the showers in the main facility and took a full shower (shampoo, conditioner, body wash) and all of the Sanctuary products were so nice! I was able to blow-dry my hair, get dry and back to normal…except I felt like I was walking on clouds. My body has never felt so relaxed then it did after that massage. I could barely wash away the drowsiness after such an amazing experience. If you’re in Phoenix, I highly recommend that wild lime blossom massage because it was something else.
That evening, we went to a restaurant downtown called Nook Kitchen.
Nook Kitchen has earned its spot on USA Today’s list of “10 Best Phoenix Restaurants in Arcadia.” The kitchen, led by co-owner Chef Nick LaRosa, produces fresh, made-from-scratch ingredients like house-pulled mozzarella and homemade Pomodoro, and the Downtown menu offers delicious new items like Polpettine, Shrimp Fra Diavolo and Braised Lamb Shank. We ordered some cocktails and had another couple meet us downtown to do some catching up, and dig into delicious food.
My watermelon Moscow mule was the only item I photographed as it got dark quickly and we wanted to relax, catch up with friends and enjoy our last evening.
On Sunday, we woke up bright and early and hung out in the room for a few hours before heading to DeSoto Central Market which is a gourmet food hall featuring boutique eateries. Because of how early we went, we were able to snag some coffee and toast at the Tea and Toast Company. Absolutely delicious vanilla latte, with my avocado and egg toast. I was so pleased and the toast was the perfect amount of food! We also ordered a delicious croissant breakfast sandwich which honestly melted right in my mouth. So delicious.
After that delicious breakfast, we started exploring the area. Roosevelt Row is Phoenix’s funky arts district located on the northern edge of downtown, along the light-rail line. Roosevelt Row’s laid-back, arty vibe nicely counterbalances a city-center character that’s typically defined by pro sports venues, performance halls and a ginormous convention center. Roosevelt Row was quiet, which is not uncommon for most days. The streets burst with energy on the first Friday night of every month, when tens of thousands of people crowd the streets for the First Friday Art Walk. There was so much art, and all of it so unique and breath-taking. Because of the cute Cabana Life top I was wearing, it was fitting that I find art that matched.
All in all, we had an incredible time galavanting through the streets of downtown Phoenix. While this is a big city, it’s easily accessible with the Grid Bikeshare, which we saw quite frequently throughout the travels. It’s so easy to just grab a bike and go to a local brewery, shop, restaurant or find an activity that will have you entertained for hours. There is a plethora of things to do in this incredible city, and I cannot recommend a trip enough. Whether it’s for the weekend for all of you Tucson locals, or if it’s a one hour flight for all of your LA peeps or even longer flight from international destinations, you must start planning your trip to the desert!
Thank you again to Visit Phoenix for hosting this incredible weekend staycation!
If you’re less of a reader, and more of a watcher, you can also check out my vlog of this trip!
Disclaimer: Sometimes I am lucky enough to collaborate and work with various destination marketing organizations. This trip was planned and paid for by Visit Phoenix. As always, all thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.