Where to eat near Heard Museum, Phoenix
I'll be spending exactly ONE Sunday in Phoenix in August. In the morning I'll visiting the Heard Museum, have lunch and then head on over to the Desert Botanical Garden.
Is there any place near the Heard a chowhound could love? It must be within walking distance because I'll be on foot. I'd like to avoid a formal sit-down restaurant because I'll be by myself. Any place with a counter where you line up and order would be fine (as long as they have chairs!)
I'm sure the Museum's cafe is good, but I want to experience something special -- something unique to Phoenix.
Normally I'd make a beeline to the Fry Bread House, but that's closed on Sundays! : (
Frommer's recommends MacAlpine's ("the oldest operating soda fountain in the Southwest") Sounds good to me. Is it?
It doesn't have to be close by the Heard. If it's near a light rail stop that would be OK too.
Going back a few years, MacAlpines had good diner food, plus it was fun.
Now, going to the Desert BoTans, I hope that you are not planning on walking in August, unless you normally do ultra-marathons in Death Valley.
Out that way, DeLux, a "gourmet" burger spot on Camelback and 32nd is quite good for informal. Camelback is just up from Mc Dowell, the straight shot to the Desert Botans.
Within walking distance, open for Sunday lunch (or brunch), not sit-down, and unique to Phoenix -- That's a lot to ask for. I'm going to concentrate on the first two criteria and let you decide for yourself if the latter two really matter. By the way, the Heard Museum's on-site cafe is more Southwestern / Native American in feel than any of the other nearby restaurants.
Switch -- American restaurant and wine bar. About 3/8 of a mile north of the Heard. It's a sit-down restaurant but it has a communal table where a single diner would probably feel at ease.
My Florist Cafe -- sandwiches and salads with live piano music. Never seems to live up to its potential in terms of food quality, but a nice atmosphere.
MacAlpine's is good for fun family dining, but not really a foodie destination. It's a somewhat challenging walk from the Heard because even though it's only half a mile east of the restaurant, there are few signaled crosswalks across the perilous six lanes of 7th Street. It would be a tougher walk than either Switch or My Florist.
One note about walking in Phoenix. It's not a whole lot of fun in August. Carry water with you. Sunblock and a hat wouldn't be a bad idea either.
Also, you mention going to DBG later and riding light rail. Keep in mind that light rail is not the best way to get to DBG unless you're up for a walk of nearly a mile from the Priest / Washington station. Instead, bus route 17 along McDowell Road is the best option for reaching DBG via public transportation.
2603 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004
My Florist Cafe
534 W McDowell Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85003
2305 N 7th St, Phoenix, AZ
Arcadia Farms Cafe, Heard Museum
2301 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004
My Florist is also a rather long walk from the light rail on an August afternoon (half a mile each way). I'd recommend something on Central like Fez, Switch or Cheuvront. None of these is particularly Phoenix-unique, but they fit the other criteria, and they all have good, though not amazing, food.
Cheuvront Wine & Cheese Bar
1326 N. Central, Phoenix, AZ 85004
3815 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85012
MFC is actually a bit less than half a mile from the McDowell / Central station, but my intent was not that the OP walk from light rail to MFC, but instead walk there from the Heard. The distance would be about 3/4 of a mile.
Fez is a good choice, but in the opposite direction of the OP's intended next destination of DBG.
Gallo Blanco (in the Clarendon Hotel) is open on Sundays (7am-10pm). It's not right on the light rail line, but it's not too far away from the station at Central and Indian School (10-minute walk each way). I think this would be a great option for a visitor looking for some Southwest/Mexican flavor.
I actually don't recall if they have a counter or not, but the restaurant has a fairly casual vibe. The food is very reasonably priced, and the chef tries to use locally sourced produce and meats as much as possible.
Gallo Blanco Cafe
401 W Clarendon Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85013
There is a counter at Gallo Blanco that faces the kitchen.
Also, the post above raises a good question about the wisdom of visiting DBG in the afternoon. That might not be the best idea in August. Instead, why not visit DBG first? It opens at 7 AM during the summer. You could enjoy the DBG while temps are lower, have a brunch at one of the places discussed in this thread, and then get to the Heard not long after it opens at 11 AM.
Silverbear, I hear you loud and clear. As a New Yorker, I guess I just don't appreciate how hot it gets in Phoenix in August. I am going to take your advice and hit the DBG in the morning, and the Heard afterwards. At risk of being OT -- since you mention the bus -- what would be the best way to get from the DBG to the Heard by public transport? Thank you (and everyone else) for all the food tips.
From DBG to the Heard, walk north out of the DBG parking lot, following the signs to the city bus stop. There's a well-defined path through a bit of Papago Park that leads to McDowell Road. At McDowell, cross over to the northwest corner and get the next 17 bus westbound. They run every 30 minutes on Sundays. Take it all the way to Central Avenue. From McDowell & Central, either walk half a mile north along Central or take light rail north from McDowell to Encanto.
Map with placemarks for restaurants mentioned: http://tinyurl.com/DBGtoHeard