I might have just moved to Phoenix a mere eight months ago, but I feel like I’ve been attending my fair share of fun events and hitting up local establishments every chance I get. Here are some of my favorite events and local happenings that I’ve experienced, even in winter…
* Phoestivus is a yearly holiday market put on by Phoenix Public Open-Air Market. This past December, it featured over 130 local vendors- from crafts, handmade goods (soaps, home decor, clothing), to food and drinks. I met the Yeti, got my photo taken with Hipster Santa, and enjoyed food from the many food trucks that were available.
* Hiking. Ah yes…One of my absolute favorite things to do on a relatively warm and sunny day. I’ve done Camelback, Pietsewa Peak, Peralta to Freemont Saddle (and view of Weaver’s Needle), Wind Cave Trail, and Tom’s Thumb. I recommend hiking on a weekday, as weekends get pretty crowded (especially when the snowbirds are in town for the winter). Don’t forget to pack sunscreen, a hat, bottle water, phone, portable phone charger (if applicable), sunglasses, and maybe a journal. Have fun!
PHX Renews is a project put on by Keep Phoenix Beautiful and City of Phoenix Mayor Stanton to help transform vacant lots into community spaces. I recently visited the main space- located on Central and Indian School, and got an idea on how 15 acres was being put to use. The land is on lease, but visitors can come visit the community space from 7am – 6pm everyday to learn about sustainability, create and/or view art, grow plants/herbs/veggies, or just take a walk.
Farmers Markets. I literally live for farmers markets, especially after moving to Phoenix. I love being able to shop directly from the local farmers and vendors. I’ve tasted the best foods, such as local butter, bread, jam, honey, nuts, veggie lasagna, hummus, and lettuce. Granted, prices are a little higher, but I’d rather get better quality food. I’ve also felt an insane about of community, and have been building rapport amongst my favorite vendors. I highly suggest Phoenix Open-Air Market, Gilbert Farmers Market, and Uptown Farmers Market.
PHX Flea is held bi-annually, every March and November, and features over 100 local vendors, as well as a variety of food trucks. Guests can shop anything from vintage, clothing, handmade; to art and plants. It takes place in Downtown Phoenix, at historic Heritage Square.
What are your favorite things to do in your hometown?
Local Nomad is tucked away amongst a small plethora of shops in Phoenix’s Uptown Plaza. It recently opened late last year, and was founded by Lauren Danuser. Lauren had dreamt of one day owning her own boutique that offered a variety of unique, handmade goods from all over the world. It wasn’t until 2015, while on a European vacation with her husband, that she really gained her true inspiration while perusing local small boutiques in Paris, Copenhagen, and Berlin.
After leaving her job in corporate retail, Lauren decided to take the plunge and make her dream into a reality. How she came up with the name- Local Nomad, was also clever…”The name Local Nomad came to me in the shower one day – I tend to come up with most of my creative ideas in the shower! The name is an oxymoron but it stuck because it aligned perfectly with my concept – locally made goods from different cities around the world. There are so many talented makers and it’s been so amazing connected with these people and supporting fellow entrepreneurs through the process, ” Danuser explained.
If you look closely at the cash wrap’s design, you can make out the outline of what I think is Camelback Mountain…but that’s just what I personally see. I also think that the mirrors also mimic a mountain shape, which is totally appropriate; seeing as we live in a mountainous state.
When the shop opened, I knew I had to check it out. The exterior and interior have a modern, yet raw edginess, in terms of decor. “I worked with my architects on the design and we decided to go with birch plywood for the storefront and fixtures which gives the store a warm, inviting feel. We also decided to include geometric elements in the shop – in the fixtures/shelves, ceiling design and cash wrap. The cash wrap was really fun to conjure up. I had a vision of having little cacti sitting in shelves within the cash wrap and voila!” Lauren was referring to her architects- Mihir Bavishi and Oscar Lopez .
The shop specializes in products for unique gifting, as well as apparel and accessories for men, women, and children. “Some of my favorite brands we carry are Gopi Shah Ceramics– handmade in San Francisco, Compartes Chocolate from Los Angeles, Ali Golden– an indie clothing line out of Oakland CA, and Wary Meyers candles which are handmade by a husband and wife team in Maine,” Lauren said.
Shop Location: 100 E Camelback Rd #168, Phoenix, AZ 85012
What do excellent service, amazing farm-to-table-to-farm food, cozy rooms, and a painting of a Burt Reynolds/Britney Spears hybrid have in common?
Downtown Phoenix’s newest boutique hotel- FOUND:RE is a combination of the aforementioned. While the present hotel (located near the artsy Roosevelt Row) is new, the building itself is from the 1970s, and served as a hotel (Lexington and a Best Western) and restaurant. The hotel’s designers knew the space needed an overhaul, but loved the structure’s old bones; so they sought to expose them. The name “FOUND:RE” was chosen based on the concept of ‘foundry,’ which ties to the industrial, urban aesthetic of the hotel, but with the focus on arts and discovery. “We wanted to play more with the “FOUND” portion of the name – separating it with industrial rivets “:” and spelling the end like the abbreviation for “regarding”… It opened so many possibilities for us to communicate our message in a playful way: RE vive, RE vitalize, RE fresh, etc. You’ll find this wordplay at work in signs all around the hotel,” Parley Stock- Director of Sales and Marketing, explained.
Having said that, the city’s latest destination also pays homage to Roosevelt Row and its funky, urban, and artistic culture. The hotel’s lobby features numerous photos, sculptures, paintings, and mixed media pieces by local artists, such as: Randy Slack, Cheryle Marina, Shauna Thiboult, Diego Perez, Ronna Nemitz, Travis Ivey, and Linda Ingraham. What really captured my eye, in a comical, yet borderline genius way, was the massive painting of a nude Burt Reynolds with a blonde Britney Spears- esque wig that was hanging over the reception desk. That piece is called- “That was Then, This Is Now,” but is mainly referred to as: “Burtney,” which is Slack’s vision of Burt Reynolds’ 1972 spread in Cosmopolitan magazine. I also thought that Linda Ingraham’s “Reveries”- five large scale portraits with matching throw pillows, really draws attention to the lounge area. You’ll find whimsical art all over the hotel, from the reception area, to the event rooms; the fitness room, and the pool area. Most of the artwork is also for sale.
I stayed at the hotel over the course of two days in one of their 8th floor suites. The reception staff was really attentive, friendly, and delivered a breezy check-in. The suites even have their own separate elevator. The overall hotel room hallways have grey walls, with the room doors a lush navy blue. Each room number plaque was handmade by local artist- Cheryle Marina. The suites are large with rolling barn-style doors that close off the living room with the bedroom. The decor, I would say, has an urban industrial inspiration with furnishings and artwork that were done by local artists. The bar has a mini fridge, a Keurig with a small variety of coffee and tea, and a cocktail mixer kit. There is a restroom off to the side, with the large shower area (I do literally mean ‘shower area’ because of how big the space is) at the back of the bedroom. There are two shower heads in the space, which is also equipped with C.O. Bigelow bath amenities. The shower itself is enclosed in glass, but with no door (it’s still easy to keep water in the designated area, just try not to splash around). On one side, the glass was frosted, with the saying “Not so sexy,” while on the other side, the glass is clear, with the saying “Sexy.” I guess it just depends on your mood. Other bathroom amenities that made my stay comfortable was a bathrobe and slippers. There is a small area to hang clothing, but the rooms (all 105 of them, in fact) are equipped with industrial-style luggage carts. The custom carts were locally designed by Bang Bang Designs. A good night’s sleep was easily had, due to the cozy bed. There were plenty of outlets for keeping my devices charged. The rooms also come equipped with tablets, where guests could order room service (coming soon at the time of this post), order spa treatments, and request housekeeping and guest services. I LOVED the large balcony. Mine overlooked downtown Phoenix and the mountains. I was even able to catch glimpses of the sunrise and sunset on both days. There is a nightly turndown service, where they leave Salted Serenity caramels and a postcard.
I was able to dine at the hotel’s signature restaurant- Match Cocktails and Cuisine. Match got its’ name from the concept of a foundry being a place where metals are forged in- fire. It is also a nod to their numerous menu items that come from the wood-fired Forno Bravo oven and wood-fired grill. They offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner; with all ingredients coming from local farmers. They use the “farm-to-table-to-farm” program, where they receive the produce from local farmers, then return the waste to Recycled City for composting. That compost then helps new local crops to grow. The constantly-changing menu is spearheaded by Executive Chef Akos Szabo, and focuses on globally-inspired sharable plates. I experienced their Christmas Day menu, where I had the following:
Entree- Eggplant Lasagna + Noble Bread + Au Gratin Potatoes
Dessert- White Chocolate and Peppermint Cheesecake + Decaf Vanilla Latte
The lovely Lauren was my server that evening. She was incredibly hospitable and knowledgeable on the food.
The meal started off with the choice of a starter dish. I chose the Creamy Chestnut Soup with bread from Noble Bakery. It was almost like a creamy mushroom soup…only BETTER! The ingredients for this yummy dish (that I wish I currently had in my refrigerator) include: roasted vegetable stock, roasted chestnuts, housemade crème fraîche, thyme, bay leaf, Blis Bourbon maple syrup, Mirepoix (according to Wikipedia- a roughly chopped vegetable cut, usually a mixture of onions, carrots, and celery), and Minnesota wild rice. This is probably a seasonal soup, but I’d eat it anytime. It was just such a different flavor, and not to mention, comforting. The slices of Noble bread paired nicely alone, and for dipping into the soup. I chose the Eggplant Lasagna with Au Gratin Potatoes, and Noble bread as my main entree. Along with the griddled Japanese eggplant, other culinary ingredients included: over-dried heirloom tomatoes, wood roasted artichokes, mascarpone, ricotta, goat cheese, Bianco tomatoes, provolone, mozzarella, garden basil, and Pistou. The au gratin potatoes had Welsh cheddar mornay, russet potatoes, caramelized onions, Noble bread crumbs, and chives. The entree was filling, yet so good and fresh! I chose the White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake for my dessert. It was HEAVEN… so much that I’m still dreaming about it… Aside from the obvious ingredients, it also had coffee crema and dark chocolate bark. I felt that it had the right amount of richness and incredible flavor.
Thank you FOUND:RE for being my home away from home during the Christmas holiday. I want to also personally thank: Carolyn, Francis, Dave, Gabriel, Lindsay, Max, Tracy, Parley, and Je-Hyen.
The next time you are visiting Phoenix and are looking for a great place to stay, ‘FIND YOURSELF’ at FOUND:RE.
** I was given a complimentary stay and food in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.