The Melrose District, which stretches along Seventh Avenue from Indian School Road to Camelback Road in Central Phoenix, is chock full of restaurants, bars, diners, cafes and clubs offering something for every time of day. It could be the Valley’s next great dining destination.
The district welcomes neighbors from the historic houses nearby along with hungry diners from all around the Valley who flock to both the classics, like a popular bar that has been serving the community for more than 35 years, and the buzzy new restaurants moving in.
Whether spending the day shopping the district’s antique shops or hopping your way through the Phoenix gay bar scene, in Melrose, you’ll find a place to fit your vibe.
Here’s your guide to every food and drink establishment on the Melrose District’s 7th Avenue corridor.
Coffee and breakfast
Copper Star Coffee
Rainbow flags fly at this Melrose district joint, which is welcoming to all. The retro gas station-turned cafe offers the option to dine-in or drive-thru to grab a hot or cold coffee, tea, smoothie or snacks. Bagels are made in-house and come spread with cream cheese, Nutella or loaded up with bacon, eggs and cheese for a hearty breakfast sandwich. Lunch is also available with options including a curry chicken pita and a decadent honey goat cheese sandwich served on focaccia.
Details: 4220 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix. 602-266-2136, copperstarcoffee.com. Open for breakfast, lunch and coffee throughout the day.
Rollover Doughnuts turns adults into kids in a candy shop. Walk through the pleasant patio into the breakfast room to view large cases packed to the brim with enormous donuts. Chocolate or rainbow sprinkles are far from your only options here. The rotating menu includes flavors like donuts stuffed with bourbon creme or topped with pistachios or bacon bits. For those looking to really celebrate the morning, try the dough-cristo sandwich that comes deep fried and served with raspberry jam. They also serve a unique hotdog menu,but more on that in the dinner section.
Details: 4221 N. 7th Ave, Phoenix. 602-795-2193, shortleashhotdogs.com. Open for breakfast, brunch and lunch on weekends.
The Refuge Cafe
The Refuge Cafe, located just south of Pierson Street on Seventh Avenue, serves coffee for a cause. Operated by the Catholic Charities Community Services of Arizona, all profits from the cafe go towards programs that support refugees, foster children, veterans and domestic violence survivors, according to its website. The cafe offers a selection of traditional coffee drinks along with a few interesting creations. Try The Jam, a frozen blended drink made with peanut butter, banana, Nutella and espresso, or the Arizona Sunset mocha made with dark chocolate and orange syrup. A small food menu offers bagels, breakfast sandwiches, burritos and bowls.
Details: 4727 N. 7th Ave, Phoenix. 602-265-1725, therefugeaz.com. Open for breakfast and lunch on weekdays.
Leaning in to the curve:Why the Melrose District may be Phoenix’s next dining destination
Brunch and Lunch
If you’re looking for an old-school diner that claims to have the best pancakes in Phoenix, Joe’s has you covered. On weekend mornings, and often mid-week as well, the bright yellow building boasts a jammed parking lot and a line of customers waiting for a booth. Place an order for biscuits and gravy and settle in with a heavy mug of bottomless coffee for a solid start to any day. Wake up a little late? Don’t worry, Joe’s serves a lunch menu of burgers and sandwiches until 2 p.m. daily.
Details: 4515 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix. 602-535-4999, joesdineraz.com. Open for breakfast and lunch every day.
Another old-school spot in the district, this diner serves breakfast and lunch with Southwest classics including huevos rancheros, fajitas and enchiladas. The kitchen also churns out American comfort foods like burgers, tuna melts and country-fried steak and eggs. A black and white tile floor and the statue of a plump chef welcoming customers at the entrance round out the retro diner feel.
Details: 4306 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix. 602-274-0079, melrosekitchenaz.com. Open for breakfast and lunch daily.
PHX Burrito House
PHX Burrito House is a solid option any time of day. It’s on this list for lunch simply because you can snag an excellent burrito and salsa around noon any day of the week. Look for the black and white sign that leads to a black and white building, which is surprisingly colorful inside. Customize your order with options from the chalkboard menu and pick a table indoors among bright Loteria posters or out on the patio. Menu options include breakfast burritos, classic beef, shrimp or chicken stuffed versions, quesadillas and tacos. Make sure you don’t skip the salsa at this Melrose District staple.
Details: 4140 7th Ave., Phoenix. 602-265-1274, facebook.com/Phoenix-Burrito-House-494819203970899. Open for breakfast and lunch daily with dinner Tuesday through Saturday.
The Fry Bread House
Tucked into a mural-covered building near the canal, The Fry Bread House is kind of a big deal. In 2012, this little spot won a James Beard Award as an America’s Classic restaurant. And the food lives up to the title. The Fry Bread House serves traditional Tohono O’odham recipes including fry bread that comes loaded with spicy red or green beef chili, melted cheese and a few shreds of crunchy lettuce. Sweet favorites include the same soft bread spread with chocolate sauce, honey or cinnamon sugar. The Fry Bread House is great for lunch and, with a little planning, could also work for an early dinner since the restaurant stays open until 7 p.m.
Details: 4545 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix. 602-351-2345, facebook.com/frybreadhouse. Open for lunch and early dinner daily, excluding Sunday.
Belly is one of the newest additions to the Melrose area, planting roots at the top of the district. Find the small but tall building just south of Camelback Road. You’ll have to venture up the stairs for your dinner and drinks experience, but once up there, bright spirits bottles beckon from behind a lit bar in the dark restaurant. The menu offers inventive, and very photogenic cocktails and modern presentations of Vietnamese-inspired cuisine.
Details: 4971 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix. 602-296-4452, bellyphx.com. Open for dinner daily.
When Restaurant Progress opened in 2017, it burst onto the metro Phoenix dining scene in a big way. Customers from around the Valley were excited to try the innovative fare chef TJ Culp dreamed up and residents of the Melrose District were excited to have their very own fine-dining restaurant. Fast forward a few years, and the intimate space has become a neighborhood staple and is still perfect for date night.
Details: 702 W. Montecito Ave., Phoenix. 602-441-0553, restaurantprogress.com. Open for dinner daily. Closed on Sunday and Monday.
It’s hard to put Valentine in one category. The restaurant, located in the Modern Manor building, is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night cocktails. It’s also part of afurniture store. The restaurant has quickly become a gathering space for the hip locavore crowd, along with groups of local moms meeting up for a coffee after walking their babies around the block. Where Valentine really shines is dinner. Settle in for an evening of seasonal dishes made with local ingredients that are inspired by the bounty of the Southwest. Elote pasta has quickly become a crowd favorite as has the crudo served with golden raisins.
Details: 4130 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix. 602-612-2961, valentinephx.com. Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
Short Leash Hot Dogs
Short Leash Hot Dogs and Rollover Doughnuts are technically the same spot, but the cafe and shop are split up on this list based on the best times of day to visit. In the evening, the casual brunch spot turns into a buzzy neighborhood hang out with as many dogs (the furry kind), as there are people. Catch a few songs from a local singer while sipping on craft beer or summery cocktail. Pro tip: The swing seats hanging from the covered patio offer the perfect opportunity to feel like a kid again. Grab a table if you want to order one of the creative hot dogs, like the Bear, which comes topped with peanut butter, smoked gouda, bacon, barbecue sauce and cracker jack popcorn wrapped in naan bread.
Details: 4221 N. 7th Ave, Phoenix. 602-795-2193, shortleashhotdogs.com. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Friday and Saturday. Breakfast and lunch only on Sunday.
While the building that houses Thai Long-an may look a little dilapidated, warm twinkle lights strung around the small patio draw customers in from the busy Seventh Avenue stretch. The tiny restaurant switched to takeout-only throughout much of the pandemic and is expertly suited for sending home noodles and curries packed into Styrofoam containers. Try the creamy coconut yellow curry and don’t skip out on the sticky rice with mango for dessert.
Details: 4447 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix. 602-374-4430, thailong-an.com. Lunch and dinner daily.
Highland Food Hub
The large, green cinder block building looks more like a school gym than a restaurant. The Highland Food Hub popped up there quietly during the pandemic and will probably remain unknown to many people who shop there. It’s a ghost kitchen, meaning that the building is home to many individual food businesses that serve customers through delivery apps like Grubhub and Uber Eats. You can also opt to pick up your order from a small lobby. Restaurants currently operating out of the hub include breakfast joint Bev’s Bistro and Philly Boys Cheesesteaks, among others.
Details: 720 W. Highland Ave., Phoenix. highlandfoodhub.com. Restaurants within the food hub each have individual hours.
Sunrise Market & Deli
If you live in one of the neighborhoods surrounding the Melrose District, trips to Sunrise Market seem to somehow become part of life. The tiny grocery store and deli is stocked with a large selection of beer and wine and seems to miraculously have whatever other provisions you may need, like the tortillas you forgot for Taco Tuesday or a pint of ice cream to pair with your bottle of local Arizona wine plucked from the shelves. Need salsa? Maybe lime juice? How about toilet paper? Sunrise Market has you covered.
Details: 4349 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix. 602-279-7213, facebook.com/Sunrise-Market-Deli-105125450973897. Open all day.
The Montecito Bottle Shop
Across the street from Sunrise Market’s unexpected and impressive selection of wine is another wine purveyor, The Montecito. This natural wine shop offers an impressive selection. If you’re not sure what to pick, ask a knowledgeable staff member to point to in the right direction. Are acidic and bright citrus notes your jam? Deep, earthy reds more to your taste? They’ve got a bottle for you. You can even snag a few local beers or unique ciders on your way out so you’ve got something for your whole party.
Details: 704 W. Montecito Ave., Phoenix. 602-975-6619, themontecitophx.com. Open afternoons Tuesday through Sunday.
Filiberto’s Mexican Food
Filiberto’s, like many of the ‘Berto’s Mexican food restaurants that dot the state, is best ordered as takeout in the early hours of the morning. The food might not be the best in the daylight, but once the moon is up and the drinks are down, a taco or two from this standby start to look mighty tasty.
Details: 4201 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix. 602-266-3454, filibertos.com. Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night every day.
Diamond’s Chinese sort of looks like it’s closed from the outside. But fear not, this traditional Cantonese-American spot is very much open. Enjoy dinner in the no-frills dining room or better yet, order a takeout feast of potstickers, orange chicken and shrimp fried rice to gorge on from the comfort of your couch.
Details: 4402 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix. 602-264-4952, diamondcntogo.com. Open for lunch and dinner daily, closed Tuesdays.
Nightlife: Bars and clubs
At the top of the Melrose District, sits one of the area’s most popular nightlife destinations. Charlie’s, which according to its website is the Valley’s largest gay bar, includes an indoor dance floor and large patio with two outdoor bars. Originally opened in 1984, the bar lives up to its slogan: “There’s always a party right here at Charlie’s.” Stop by to watch a drag show, sing karaoke or dance the night away and be sure to visit the taco trucks that park outside for a late-night snack.
Details: 727 W. Camelback Road, Phoenix. 602-265-0224, charliesphoenix.com. Open afternoons until late every day.
Pat O’s Bunkhouse Saloon
A slightly different vibe than Charlie’s, Pat O’s Bunkhouse Saloon is a casual, beer-drinking spot that’s friendly to fans of leather and facial hair. Sit inside or out at this bar located in a little house on Seventh Avenue.
Details: 4428 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix. 602-200-9154, bunkhousesaloonphx.com. Open early to late every day.
Boycott Bar, as the name indicates, is less about the boys. This bar welcomes everyone but is one of the very few lesbian bars in metro Phoenix. Visit Boycott Bar for karaoke and dance nights, live DJs, Whiskey Wednesdays and other events.
Details: 4301 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix. 602-825-6240, boycottbarphx.com. Open afternoons through late night daily. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
Although the Thunderbird Lounge opened in 2019, you might never guess it from the decor. The tiny indoor bar and its large outdoor patio embody the spirit of the 1970s. Groovy tunes and old-school video games keep the energy up as customers sip light beer and well drinks around the bar. Outside, lawn games and a small dance floor split up tables set between a saguaro wrapped in rainbow lights and a sparkling unicorn. Put on your flares and head to Thunderbird for a relaxed backyard bash.
Details: 710 W. Montecito Ave., Phoenix. 602-283-4621, thunderbirdloungephx.com. Open 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. every day.
One of the easiest ways to spot The Rock is to look for the Phoenix Coqui Food Truck parked outside. The truck serves Puerto Rican empanadillas stuffed with meats and cheeses to hungry customers who have worked up an appetite after a few beers at The Rock. The bar itself is a low-key spot offering beer, cocktails and pizza along with karaoke and drag shows on the weekends.
Details: 4129 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix. 602-248-8559, therockdmphoenix.com. Open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on weekends. Opens at 2 p.m. on weekdays.
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