The aroma of fresh baked bread from Aaron Chamberlin’s uptown restaurant, St. Francis, entices pedestrians as they pass along the street. St. Francis opened near the corner of Camelback Road and Central Avenue in 2009 and the name honors the Phoenix neighborhood’s 1936 land deed, as well as the streets of San Francisco that inspired it. Chef-owner Aaron Chamberlin’s enthusiasm for urban life and love for the area’s historic charm has created a convivial, light-filled space with window walls open to the street and curbside patios, at once intimate and communal.
A custom wood-burning oven takes center stage in the open arena style kitchen, baking up to 90 San Francisco style sourdough loaves a day. Its local mesquite wood infused flavor accents nearly all the dishes on the menu, from roasted meats, locally sourced vegetables, to the artisanal flatbreads. The rustic oven acts as the restaurant’s hearth, encouraging friends and strangers to gather together to break bread.
Chamberlin admits his expertise at cooking with fire was developed long before his professional career. “I love to cook with fire. I was in the Boy scouts, made Eagle Scout, and my skill for wood burning started with those campfires. The experience shaped me.” His talent for mastering the art of the flame has garnered acclaim in such national publications as Condé Nast Traveler, Food & Wine and Sunset magazine.
A local boy, Chamberlin left home at 19 to earn his chef’s whites in the culinary capitals of San Francisco, New York and Boston. He spent nearly a decade on the road and in the kitchens of such famed and exacting chefs as Michel Richard, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Nancy Oakes.
He returned home with serious fine dining credentials, a deft touch for bread making and a taste for the urban vibrancy of those cities: small cafes, independent book sellers, corporate offices, family run groceries, and pop-up art galleries all sharing the same sidewalk. “When I moved back home,” says Chamberlin, “I grabbed a map and zeroed in on what I thought was the center of town – Central and Camelback. I was looking for that vibe. But nine years ago it was still waiting to happen.”
He kept his eye on the area and over time he began to notice independent business owners opening up shop and felt that something was in the air, the wait was over. He searched until he found the right building to create the kind of restaurant he envisioned for the neighborhood and city he wanted to live in. The 1955 modernist classic at 111 Camelback Road had the right ingredients: good bones and curb appeal. “Before we started to remodel,” he says, “I took [noted local architect) Wendell Burnette on a trip to San Francisco.” They toured all of Chamberlin’s favorite haunts, dives and cafes sampling their essence in taste and smell. And they walked historic neighborhoods studying the dynamism of buildings, their curbs and the streets.
“I wanted that feeling of a real city, to see and be seen,” says Chamberlin, “for our restaurant to have a role in the street life. I was told I was crazy to do that. But I am not afraid to put tables and seating on the sidewalk. I lived in an alley in San Francisco for years and loved it. I want people to drive by, walk past, look in and want to be a part of it.”
An urban vibe, front porch charm and a merit badge worthy kiln. Chamberlin gently kneaded these ingredients into a sophisticated gathering place to share in the simple, nourishing ritual of breaking bread.
In May, 2013, Chamberlin’s fire-making skills and talent for creating a fresh, eclectic menu with wide appeal led him to open the Phoenix Public Market Cafe, at Pierce Street and Central Avenue in the Evans Churchill neighborhood downtown. Its central location, full bar, spacious tables, covered patio, and casual menu that features breakfast, lunch, and dinner items, has created another popular “see and be seen” gathering spot. In addition to the cafe, the Public Market parking lot is home to Food Truck Friday, a lunch time food truck gathering each week, along with an open air farmer’s market every Wednesday evening and Saturday morning. Just like a yeasty loaf of sourdough bread, Chamberlin’s dream of restaurants with a role in the city’s street life, is rising. Smell the deliciousness.
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On September 27 Roosevelt Row will ignite the Fall season by presenting some of the BEST local chefs who will highlight the MOST delicious chile pepper cuisine in Phoenix. Onsite chile roasting with Crooked Sky Farms, live music with Pick and Holler and Mariachi De Luna De Mexico, the Ghost Pepper Talent Show hosted by Lawn Gnome Publishing & Bragg’s Factory Diner and (of course) a Deschutes craft beer garden AND a 3 Amigos Tequila margarita station with gourmet chile-pepper margaritas!
2014 CHILE PEPPER FESTIVAL
Admission is FREE!
Tasting Tickets – $2
Beer & Margarita Tokens – $5
Discounted ticket bundles are available on the website.
Click here to BUY YOUR TASTING TICKETS ONLINE.
Location: Phoenix Public Market, 721 N Central
Date / Time: Saturday, Sept. 27 / 5-11pm
2014 COMPETING CHILE PEPPER CHALLENGE TEAMS:
Aside of Heart
AZ Food Crafters
Jamburritos Cajun Grille Express
Jobot Coffee & Diner
Mamma Toledo’s The Pie Hole
Phoenix Public Market Cafe
Short Leash Hot Dogs / Rollover Doughnuts
Squid Ink Sushi
The Refuge Cafe
Urban Beans/Tertio Wine Bar
Welcome Diner / Welcome Chicken and Donuts
Lulu’s Italian Ice
>> KID’S ACTIVITIES: The Phoenix Center for the Arts, the Heard Museum and Valley Permaculture Alliance are preparing chile pepper craft activities and we’ll have face painting as well!
>> CHILE PEPPER ROASTING: Crooked Sky Farms will be roasting a dozen different varieties of chile peppers to eat fresh off the roaster or to take home!
>> CHEF DEMONSTRATIONS: Enjoy five local chefs as they offer a live-demonstration of hand-crafted chile pepper eats and/or drinks.
>> LIVE MUSIC: Pick and Holler + Mariachi Luna De Mexico
>> GHOST PEPPER TALENT SHOW: Hosted by Lawn Gnome Publishing’s Aaron Hopkins-Johnson and Bragg’s Factory Diner’s Liam Murtaugh, The GHOST PEPPER TALENT SHOW will bring the weird, the camp, and the heat to the Annual Roosevelt Row Chile Pepper Festival stage! Bellydancing vs. Storytelling vs. Standup Comedy vs. Mariachi vs. Beatboxing vs. Barbershop Quartet vs. Slam Poetry.
>> SALSA DANCING LESSONS: Learn how to salsa dance at this year’s Chile Pepper Festival with Stilo Dance Co. Free community dancing lessons will be followed by open dance and a performance by Stilo dancers.
>> TRANSPORTATION & PARKING OPTIONS: Valley Metro Light Rail: Guests are encouraged to ride the light rail, walk or bike to the event.
UBER Car Service: Uber seamlessly connects you to drivers through a push of a button on your phone. $30 off for first-time Uber riders to the Chile Pepper Festival. Promo code: “ROROCHILEFEST”. Sign up!
Bike Parking: Free bike valet will be provided by Valley Metro.
Parking: On-street parking and onsite lot parking available, but we encourage guests to ride the light rail or bicycle to the event!
Want to volunteer? Sign up here!
The following release was issued by the city of Phoenix Street Transportation Department.
EXTENDED PARKING METER HOURS COMING AUG. 18
Meters to operate from 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. daily
The city of Phoenix Street Transportation Department is notifying residents, commuters and business owners on changes to parking meter hours of operation, effective Aug. 18. The changes were adopted by the City Council in June.
Beginning Aug. 18, all parking meters will be enforced from 8 a.m. – 10 p.m., including weekends and holidays.
The new hours were enacted to increase the turnover of parking spaces in central Phoenix and downtown areas where meters are most often used.
As part of the council action, parking meter rates will also be changing in November of this year. Under a new demand-based pricing system coming in November, rates at credit card enabled meters can vary from 50 cents to $4 an hour, with higher meter rates reserved for high demand-parking during special events. Until demand-based pricing is implemented in November, meter rates will remain $1.50 per hour. For the public’s convenience, the city has purchased and installed 598 new single space credit card enabled meters. With this upgrade approximately 1,500 of the city’s parking meters, or 81 percent of citywide maters, will take credit cards.
More information on the proposed parking meter changes is available at the Street Transportation Department website, phoenix.gov/streets/parking-meters.
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DOWNTOWN “SUPER PUB” SHOWCASES LOCAL ART, CHANGING DOWNTOWN
The original cover art depicts a bustling Saturday morning at Phoenix Public Market, in an increasingly vibrant and walkable Downtown.
Local artist Justin Queal, whose artwork can be seen all over Phoenix, most notably at CityScape’s Squid Ink Sushi, was commissioned to paint one of his favorite places in Downtown Phoenix for the new Downtown Phoenix Dining Guide & Directory, which hit the streets this week and represents the most ambitious publication Downtown Phoenix Partnership and Downtown Phoenix, Inc., have ever produced.
Queal’s painting is a colorful representation of what Downtown Phoenix has become—a place where people not only work but live, shop and play. Our community is diverse, artistic, passionate and strong.
Similarly the artistic “super publication,” which for the first time combines the popular annual Downtown Dining Guide with the traditional twice-yearly Downtown Directory, was made stronger by an expanded coverage area that includes the Roosevelt Row Arts District. The expanded coverage resulted in 125 new listings for a whopping 411 total businesses featured.
The Downtown Dining Guide & Directory, the must-have resource for visitors and urban explorers, is distributed throughout Downtown and Valley-wide and features a pullout map, expanded dining editorial, local photography, information about Downtown’s emerging music scene, and a walking tour that encouraging pedestrians to explore Downtown’s historic buildings and public art.
You can download the Downtown Dining Guide & Directory here or stop by and grab a copy at the Downtown Ambassadors Information Center, located at 101 N. 1st Avenue, Suite 190.
For more information about Downtown Phoenix please visit www.downtownphoenix.com.
Human beings rely on all kinds of tools to survive in our complex world and a good map is one of our most basic tools for understanding where we are and where we want to go. Maps help us get our bearings, step confidently into unfamiliar territory, and discover hidden byways and shortcuts through the larger landscape.
In an urban environment, a good map is a welcome mat inviting us into the unique neighborhoods that make up the specific landscape of that city. Public transportation and easy-to-use destination maps make perfect partners for pedestrians who want to experience the true spirit of a city.
Recognizing this, Valley Metro developed new destination maps, which were installed at light rail stations in late spring. Hillary Foose, Valley Metro’s Director of Marketing & Communication, spearheaded the initiative by partnering with the City of Phoenix, Artlink, Inc. and Local First Arizona to provide a unique level of local neighborhood-specific detail that would communicate the rich destination options just steps beyond each station.
She was looking for what urbanists refer to as the “fine grain” elements of the city to provide a richer sense of place for residents and visitors alike.
“We wanted destinations to be very local,” said Foose. “That’s what makes our system interesting; we can point people to the local gems that they can walk to from each station.”
The new maps are easy to read, and each station features a “you are here” circle showing the destinations within a five-minute walk of that station. And the plan is to update the maps twice a year. Very cool.
In addition to these station maps, Valley Metro has gone the extra mile to link residents and visitors to the many arts and culture destinations accessible from the system.
The Valley Metro Arts & Culture Destination Guide was published in March and features fifty destinations between Phoenix and Mesa.
Each page of the guide features a simple map highlighting each station stop and the major cultural attractions within easy walking distance. There are photos, venue descriptions and contact info that make it easy to use and more valuable than a compass for those who want to explore all of their arts and culture options.
Savvy visitors from around the Valley and beyond can use the station maps in combination with the Arts & Culture Destination Guide to explore, shop, eat, and experience what makes our corner of the world so special.
Next time you use the light rail, take a minute to download an Arts & Culture Destination Guide and scope out the station destination maps before you step off the platform and venture out into the hood. You’ll be amazed at the urban treasures you’ll discover in your own backyard.
Images courtesy of Valley Metro