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Welcome to Dining Guides, an intermittent series on the many dining hubs around the greater Phoenix area and what they have to offer. Breakfast to happy hour, quick coffee to sit-down dining, we break down some of our favorite places in each neighborhood. Today, we zero in on the Garfield Historic District.
A simple glance at Garfield Historic District’s expanding culinary scene is proof enough that the neighborhood is on the up and up. What was once a booming residential development in the early 1900s went overlooked for a good long while. But you can bet your bottom that Garfield is the comeback kid, and its food and drink are leading the charge.
Xanadu Coffee Co.
625 North Seventh Street
Xanadu Coffee Co. offers a house blend and two espressos — one to pair with regular or alternative milk and the other to shine on its own. It also highlights a fun, fruity coffee every month, like a specialty pear and almond latte. Owners Randall Denton and Jessica Bueno choose coffee based on availability, price point, and traceability, meaning about 90 percent of Xanadu’s coffee comes from a single estate, small co-ops, or micro-lots. Teas come from Cha Cha’s Tea Lounge, while pastries hail from JL Patisserie and Dark Hall Coffee.
Rito’s Phoenix-famous chimichanga.
Jackie Mercandetti Photo
Rito’s Mexican Food
907 North 14th Street
This is the no-frills type of joint you insist on taking your sheltered, but well-meaning, Midwestern visitors to. Lie to them and say the red sauce isn’t that hot. It’s practically a rite of passage, and Rito’s Mexican Food is the perfect setting. Walk into the cash-only restaurant at 14th and Garfield streets and be greeted by pink walls, hungry guests, and a busy counter. Burritos can be made the regular way, but why? Go for deep-fried, enchilada, or chimichanga style. Or — brace yourself — chimichanga enchilada style: deep-fried, smothered in red sauce, topped with cheese, lettuce, and tomato. Tacos are filled to the brim, tostadas have that telltale crisp, and word on the street says Rito’s refried beans are the best in town. Plus there is plenty of patio seating.
621 North Seventh Street
If you prefer a healthy-leaning lunch, in reusable Tupperware, and made by someone else, this is your spot. Tastybox serves international cuisine in bento boxes. Stop in for a $10 box, which clocks in at a maximum of 600 calories, ready in 10 minutes or less. Each day of the week offers different meat, vegetarian, and vegan options, and the menu changes seasonally. Celebrate Friday with the Jefe, a tomatillo and green chili ground beef salad served with salsa fresca, corn tortillas, and fresh fruit. The following Tuesday, go full vegan with the Fasian, a rice noodle and kale salad with truffle salt edamame and summer squash.
Cheba Hut Toasted Subs
825 North Seventh Street, #101
This Colorado-based, cannabis-themed sandwich shop puts on a little funk on Garfield’s lunch options. Head into Cheba Hut’s brick-building digs for toasted subs like the Apollo 13 (Greek chicken), the Kush (a BLT), or the Magic Mushroom (you can guess). Salads and Munchies (sides like pretzels, fries, and hummus platters) are also on the menu, as well as Cottonmouth Cures like tea, soda, beer, and other adult drinks.
That patio, though.
Jackie Mercandetti Photo
929 East Pierce Street
Welcome Diner knows its way around classics like biscuits and gravy, pulled pork french fries with Carolina barbecue sauce, and fried green tomatoes, but you’re going to want to hit this beloved party porch for happy hour. The diner’s front deck is decked with outdoor furniture, picnic tables, heaters, and bistro lights, all under the glow of the neon pink sign. Happy hour is 3 to 6 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday, and offers fries for $4, the Lil Birdy chicken sandwich for $7, and a mini pie trio for $6. Meanwhile, all draft beer is $5, classic cocktails like the Hurricane go for $9, or you can get a cold Hamm’s for literally a dollar.
Gallo Blanco is one of the top dining options in Garfield District, and we suggest going for dinner.
Jacob Tyler Dunn
928 East Pierce Street
Since Gallo Blanco landed in Garfield it has been a key player in the neighborhood’s growth and dining scene. Nestled in a historic brick building that once housed American Way Market, the white-and-tan brick exterior and large windows create an airy feel. Gallo serves all three square meals, which should always be ramped up to with an order of chips, salsa, and Gallo Guacamole. Entrees include the Taco Dorado, the Arrachera salad, and the barbacoa burrito. And you’re going to want to join that with the Gallo Margarita or the house Paloma.
Tacos Calafia Downtown
825 North Seventh Street, #102
While the downtown location of Tacos Calafia is open for lunch and happy hour, we recommend waiting till the staff flicks on those dreamy, strung-up patio lights to head over. It’s well worth the wait for a taste of former food truck’s Baja-inspired tacos — especially the al pastor. The chile-sluiced pork is rich, savory, and skillfully paired with oozing melted cheese and some of the restaurant’s house-made, ultra-fresh guacamole salsa. Try it in the house al pastor mulita, which features two freshly pressed corn tortillas stuffed with gently charred slivers of the sweet-savory pork.
The carne asada quesadilla showcases just how good the Salsita’s carne asada is.
Salsitas Mexican Food
1541 East Roosevelt Street
Salsitas is ready to serve Mexican fare at any time of the day or night. Convenient, affordable, and usually pretty busy, what Salsitas Mexican Food lacks in glam it makes up for in freshly made corn tortillas and the well-stocked salsa bar. Breakfast burritos are served 24 hours a day, along with tacos, carne asada, and lengua. But if beef tongue is not your thing, you have plenty of options. Stop by on the weekend for menudo or birria, and grab some horchata to round it all out.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published on October 25, 2019. It was updated on January 26, 2021.
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