Roosevelt Row (also known as RoRo to locals), is downtown Phoenix’s most creative and eclectic destination. The art district stretches east to west from 16th St. to 7th Ave. and north to south from I-10 to Fillmore St and has been a key factor in bringing life back to the formerly rundown area.
Not only is the district a colorful canvas for modern-day artists, it’s also the central hub to many of downtown’s historic neighborhoods including Garfield, Evans Churchill, F.Q. Story, Willo, Roosevelt, Historic Roosevelt and Grand Avenue. Just strolling around the city streets will give visitors a glimpse into the past. Many of the sidewalks were poured before Arizona was even a state and many bars, restaurants and shops are housed inside rehabilitated bungalows and historic houses.
Like with many urban areas, the once vibrant district experienced a downturn from the ‘70s through the late ‘90s. Abandoned buildings and a rougher atmosphere meant super affordable spaces, attracting artists from all around to establish galleries and studios. And thus began the area’s turn-around. Today, the Roosevelt Row Arts District is alive with cultural events, art galleries, exhibits and Instagram-able murals at every turn. Some of the Valley’s most interesting and unique dining and bar options can be found here.
Dine locally at an array of hip spots that each bring something new to the dinner table. A morning favorite, Matt’s Big Breakfast is loved by locals and was even featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Phoenix Public Market is a casual hangout serving items like sandwiches, salads and wood-fired eats. It also hosts an open-air market every Saturday morning featuring local vendors. For simple yet delicious margaritas and tacos, head to newly opened Taco Chelo. Downtown-favorite Welcome Diner recently moved into a new space and continues to serve up Southern classics like biscuits and gravy and gumbo. Other great spots include The Vig, Cibo and Gallo Blanco.
Enjoy a fun night at Cobra Arcade Bar, a local joint featuring a slew of retro arcade games that run on tokens. Their drink menu is even packed with nostalgia featuring cocktails with names like Kirby and Krazy Kong. The Breadfruit & Rum Bar is known for their exclusively rum-only menu and cigar collection, plus an impressive dinner menu in case you get hungry. While Angel’s Ale Trumpet House has multiple locations around the Valley, it’s RoRo outlet is the original and known for its amazing patio and rare beers. It’s also worth noting that they also make their own homemade pop tarts. A new destination The Churchill is made of stacked shipping containers housing multiple local businesses arranged around a central courtyard. Think, a modern-day outdoor cafeteria of local favorites. Hit up Pobrecito for craft cocktails and Freak Brothers Pizza for straight-up great pies. Tri-level Rott n’ Grapes features a great drink menu plus a to-go bottle shop and speakeasy basement lounge.
Most notably, the district is home to First Fridays, one of the nation’s largest self-guided art walks taking place during the first Friday of every month from 6 to 11 p.m. Browse Roosevelt Row Merchants for vintage clothing and shopping; Hot Box Galleries, featuring exhibitions in pop-up containers from a variety of artists; and Roosevelt Row Market on 2nd and 5th St. for handmade goods and art. Other Friday events include a showcase of exhibition openings on Third Fridays (the third Friday of every month), performances, artist highlights and more. Catch an indie flick at independent FilmBar or cozy up for a jazz performance at The Nash. Art-enthusiasts can visit popular galleries like monOrchid, Eye Lounge, First Studio and more.