Lunch Be a Lady: Exploring the Arcadia Lunch Scene
If you're lucky enough to lounge during lunch like a modern-day Oscar Wilde character, you have plenty of options. Arcadia has expanded its lunch game in the past year with more and more places that cater to the upper-crust, midday meal crowd. Chestnut, Flower Child, and The Market by Jennifer's are three recent additions to the scene.
Jackie Mercandetti Grilled Yellow Fin Tuna Nicoise Salad, asparagus soup, and charcuterie from The Market by Jennifer's.
Each caters to the persnickety demands of the clientele it seeks to win over with gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, paleo, and other dietary options clearly labeled so that no one has to wonder -- though customers tend to loudly ask anyway. The restaurants also gravitate toward a vintage and quaint yet chic aesthetic that says, "I take myself and my lunch seriously."
If you're willing to drop a 20-spot or more on lunch, you're welcome to navigate the highs and lows of this rapidly increasing East Phoenix neighborhood's offerings. While Flower Child and Chestnut suffer from identity issues, The Market by Jennifer's goes for a more comforting culinary approach, resulting in less healthy but more interesting fare.
First, on the northeast corner of 44th Street and Camelback Road, you'll find Sam Fox's newest venture, Flower Child. The health-focused concept is bright and white, an ivy-laced, country-chic spot that looks, smells, and feels healthy the moment you walk through the door. It's only fair to warn you that the menu here is huge and a little confusing, which becomes evident as customers pool around the entryway staring at copies of the menu and trying to figure out what's going on before they approach the counter to order.
With half-baked fusion options like a nearly flavorless tofu and mushroom pho, it's clear that Flower Child is confused, too. However, if you stay away from the parts of the menu that cater to the foodie crowd, there are some legitimately flavorful low-cal options. Plus, the staff is proactive and friendly, obviously aware that trying to make a decision after studying the menu -- which is like a flow chart that doesn't flow -- is no easy task.
Lauren Saria Flower Child's kombucha tap.
If you're going for salad, the buckwheat noodle and quinoa salads use gluten-free grains in conjunction with healthy doses of veggies to fill you up. For wraps, you really can't go wrong with whatever you choose because each is wrapped in a soft but substantial chia and flaxseed whole wheat tortilla. I liked the Flying Avocado, with smoked Gouda and grilled chicken.
Even if you're health-conscious, you'll want to try the lemon olive oil cake -- so good that it alone is worth the trip. The sweet, tart, and moist cake will have you sold on the place before anything else. And, yes, Flower Child has kombucha on draft, a trend that's already taken hold in cities like Austin but is just now making its way to Phoenix . Does kombucha need to be on draft to be good? No. Is it gimmicky? Sure. Do I like it? Yes.