Phoenix Public Market Cafe: Happy Hour Report Card

Categories: Happy Hour

Heather Hoch
These Brussels sprouts with bacon are a knockout at only $3 per plate.
The Spot: Phoenix Public Market Cafe
14 East Pierce Street

See Also: Phoenix Public Market Cafe: A Dazzling Space With the Occasional Letdown

The Hours: Happy Hour is offered daily from 3 p.m. until close.

The Interior:
There's no doubt about it -- Aaron Chamberlin's newest joint, Phoenix Public Market Café, is a beaut. The chalkboard menus, large community bench seating and mellow yet bright color scheme all contribute to a slightly retro but mostly modern feel that's both rustic and clean at the same time. There's nothing you can dislike about the place aesthetically, and you can have a seat at either the indoor or outdoor portion of the bar. It's everything a local cafe should be, if appearance is what's important to you.

Heather Hoch
If you want soup, stick with the lentil curry coconut soup.
The Food:
There aren't discounted happy hour food items, but you can do what we do at so many other happy hours and make your own. Though the entrées are slightly overpriced for the portion you get, you can grab a couple of sides or a cup of soup for $3 each. While the lentil curry coconut soup, which is vegan and gluten-free, is a great start, thanks to its creamy heartiness, the black bean soup is dreadfully underseasoned. It's almost as though someone dumped a can of beans in a bowl and sent it out with a cute garnish. Stick to the lentil soup or try out the seasonal offering if you're going to get a cup.

Heather Hoch
Other $3 options include beans, rice, cole slaw, and a baked sweet potato with chili lime butter. The French fries have been hit or miss in the times we've tried them, while the garlic mashed potatoes are consistently good. The steamed broccoli could have used some seasoning help, on top of being overcooked. The real winner of our side-dish-tasting adventure was the market vegetable option, which was Brussels sprouts with applewood-smoked bacon. The salty, fatty, smoky bacon accented the sprouts, which were roasted enough to be tender while not losing their texture entirely.

Location Info

Phoenix Public Market Cafe

14 E. Pierce St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

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My Voice Nation Help

My girlfriend and I visited the Cafe two weekends ago, and I came away with mixed emotions.  Although I loved the energy given off by the large number of people actively socializing within the cool confines created by the Cafe, all food we had that day put me off to such a degree, I have deep reservations of returning... and we live in the Willo Historic District, so it's very convenient for us, and that should mean something to somebody.  :)

As I said, I loved the vibe of not only the Cafe, but really enjoyed hobnobbing around the Market environs as well.

The food on the other hand, left much to be desired.  We ordered some sort of pork sandwich not found on the regular menu that day... the gal at the registered described it as a pork loin sandwich wrapped in pork belly (which we took to be bacon-like).  

When we first entered the Cafe, there was a pork loin sitting under some sort of heat lamp contraption, and to be honest, it looked pretty darned tasty.  Yet when the sandwich finally showed up, neither my girlfriend nor I could eat it, as it comprised a total of approximately (no joke) 90%+ fat. Even my girlfriend couldn't get past it, and she has a wayyyyyyy stronger constitution than I do.

We pretty much returned the entire sandwich uneaten.  And although the waitress was somewhat distressed by the situation, no one came out to the table to question us about why it was so uniquely inedible.  The joint was super busy, so I guess I can sort of get it... but still in this day and age, it seems the proper hospitable thing to do.

In spite of this setback we were still hungry, so I got back in line and ordered something I considered fairly safe... the AZ Burger.  Pretty basic... green chile, lettuce, cheddar cheese and a house dressing.

After some time later (seemed like a long time), the AZ Burger came out and it was way better than the pork, but pretty much universally wanton for some sort of direction, texture and uniqueness.  The Backyard Burger at the Windsor (Windsor Style) is significantly more newsworthy and eagerly digestible if you've ever had it and would proffer to use as a comparison... but in the Cafe's defense, the Windsor burger does have some subtle differences which in my opinion make it a better burger.

Our waitress finally did come back to our table and offered us two small cookies on a serving dish, gratis... which was a nice gesture indeed.  I don't eat pastries, so I can only comment on what my girlfriend imparted to me afterwards... which went something like each cookie had way too much frosting, and the dough seemed woefully under cooked.  Yeah... not an overall great experience on our first try.

One last thing... while we were waiting to get into one of the bathrooms earlier in our visit, there was an opening which allowed us to see evidently some new employee working back there (kitchen area) around a huge vat of something.  She was being instructed by someone to do some sort of menial task and we could hear this (supervisor we assumed) person tell her he would be back momentarily... yet in his brief absence, this newbie proceeded to drop something into said vat (looked like a small roll of paper towels or something), then looked really nervous as to what to do about it.  Neither my girlfriend nor myself stayed long enough to discover what, if anything happened afterward...

Maybe we just hit the place up on the wrong day... who knows?  I really hope so, because the place was nice to be at on a beautiful day, and although we didn't try any of the breakfast items, they all looked amazing from what we could espy from our neighboring patrons.  If anything, breakfast would probably be our next selection if and when we decide to return or just move on.

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