Here at Apartment Guide, we wanted to get a local sense of life in the Valley of the Sun, Phoenix, Arizona.
We reached out to three Phoenix area bloggers to get their varied takes on the city. These notable, local Phoenix experts share from their own points of view the details you need to know to understand the city a bit better. How Phoenix is changing, where to visit, how to get around, great spots to eat… it’s all here!
David Bickford is the author and creator of the top-rated blog PHX Rail Food, “devoted to good eating along the light rail line that connects Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa.” David’s is the number one Phoenix food blog as ranked on Urbanspoon.com.
Scott Dunn of VisitPhoenix.com and The Hot Sheet Blog is a former journalist and now Senior Director of Marketing and Communications for the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Gwen Ashley Walters of Pen&Fork.com is a food journalist, professional chef, and award-winning cookbook author. She lives in Scottsdale, a nearby suburb of Phoenix.
Describe Phoenix in three words.
David: Reinventing, surprising, maturing.
Scott: Dreamy outdoor living. (Eight months out of the year, anyway.)
Gwen: Diverse, fun, home.
How long have you lived in Phoenix?
David: I’ve lived in Phoenix for 25 years. I came here right after graduate school for a job opportunity, ended up marrying a native, and now feel fully embedded here.
Scott: 8 years.
Gwen: 19 years. Moved to Phoenix to go to culinary school and never left.
What’s exciting or changing about the city?
David: Phoenix is becoming more dense, more walkable, and more multimodal in terms of transport. Using a car for every trip is no longer as essential as it once was. It’s also becoming more aware of its own history and the need to preserve its past.
Scott: The renaissance of downtown and preponderance of new businesses in adaptively reused buildings.
Gwen: Our culinary scene is growing, both at the high-end and in the affordable, mom-and-pop ethnic joints.
Do you live in an apartment?
David: No, my family lives in a house that we’ve owned for the past decade; however, I rented apartments during my first decade in Phoenix. I started with a modest one-bedroom within walking distance of work. Then, when I wanted to upgrade, the only real option at the time was to move several miles north. I didn’t mind because the new place was closer to my favorite hiking trails, but I’m pleased that there are now a lot of better apartment options available Downtown for those who want a more urban lifestyle.
Gwen: I live in a condo.
David: I would live in one of Phoenix’s historic districts. Those neighborhoods combine shaded, walkable streets with independent businesses and easy access to public transit. The housing there is a mix of well-maintained vintage homes and newer infill apartment buildings.
Scott: I’m perfectly happy where I am — the Coronado District — because of its diversity, walkability, neighborhood eateries/bars and proximity to my downtown workplace.
Gwen: I already live in Old Town Scottsdale, and I don’t ever want to move. I’m within walking distance to great restaurants, shopping, galleries and museums.
David: 1) The Heard Museum, because its emphasis on Native American art makes it a unique cultural attraction.
2) The Roosevelt Row and Lower Grand arts districts, because they show what small-scale, fine-grain reuse of old buildings can do to create authentic urban revitalization.
3) Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, now turned into an architecture school.
Scott: 1) Phoenix Mountains Park
3) Desert Botanical Garden
Gwen: 1) The Heard Museum
3) Old Town Scottsdale Main Street Galleries
How do you get around in Phoenix? Light rail? By car?
David: Light rail, my bicycle, walking, the bus, UberX, and our family car — like people, transportation should be diverse. A healthy city supports many ways of getting around.
Scott: Both. And on foot and bicycle.
Gwen: I walk whenever I can but otherwise by car. Light rail is a long way from where I live.
David: The pork chile verde at St. Francis restaurant with a side of corn bread is excellent. It’s also offered at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market Cafe, the more casual cousin of St. Francis.
Scott: No. (Green chile is more of a New Mexico thing.) My favorite local food is carne asada street tacos.
Gwen: Green chile pot pie at the Phoenix Public Market Cafe in downtown Phoenix.
Both Scott and Gwen also commented on Phoenix’s weather.
Scott: “Dry heat” is a well-worn cliche for a reason: the low humidity really does make a 105-degree summer day here feel more comfortable than an 85-degree day back home in Tennessee.
Gwen: From November through May, Phoenix has near perfect weather. Summers are hot but so are the deals for both travelers and locals who want to take advantage of stay-cations.
Gwen Ashley Walter’s picks for four great Phoenix restaurants:
FnB for Chef Charleen Badman’s veggie-centric menu
Pizzeria Bianco for Chris Bianco’s hand tossed pizzas and his mother’s homey desserts
Binkley’s for a special night of molecular gastronomy influenced cuisine
Andreoli’s for the best handmade pastas
David Bickford’s picks for four great Phoenix restaurants:
La Piazza Locale — The latest arrival in Downtown Phoenix’s vibrant wood-fired pizza scene. The pizza is great, especially the Montanara, a pie made with fried dough, but don’t skip the excellent pasta dishes.
Umami — Downtown Tempe’s ramen restaurant has recently reopened after a fire. It’s back better than ever with its own broths, off-menu specials, and shareable bentos.
Republica Empanada — This restaurant in Downtown Mesa goes south of the border, farther south than Mexico to Central America, offering not only empanadas with all sorts of fillings, but also arroz con pollo and daily specials.
Clever Koi — A new pan-Asian restaurant in Midtown Phoenix. A summer ramen special with corn and asparagus goes great with one of the refreshing cocktails offered at the bar.
Special thanks to our contributors for sharing their Phoenix knowledge, opinions and experiences!
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