What to Do in Downtown Tempe

Helena WegnerDecember 20, 2019
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After undergoing several “placemaking” initiatives since 2017, downtown Tempe is more than a party hub for college kids. The cultural hot spot will soon have a battery-powered street car (slated for spring 2021) to ferry Mill Avenue goers between University Drive and Rio Salado Parkway. Gather your family or friends and check out these up-and-coming restaurants, art galleries and bars.

3 Places to Eat
A House of Tacos

This street-style taco shop offers a variety of proteins for tacos: al pastor, carne asada, barbacoa (shredded angus beef), carnitas and cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork). Choose between flour and corn tortillas and build your own tacos at the salsa bar, loaded with cilantro, onions, guacamole, pico de gallo and five other salsas. Order the Cervezarita, a house margarita side-saddled with a Coronita. Snag a taco and $4 margarita during happy hour.
740 S. Mill Ave., 480-588-6451, house-of-tacos.business.site

B The Shop Beer Co.

No boring bar food here – every week, local food trucks make stops at The Shop to provide sustenance to pair with The Shop’s classic Church Music, a juicy pineapple IPA, or Crispy, a light and refreshing blonde lager. Italian-inspired food truck Quattro Pazzi stops by regularly to serve pizza, sandwiches and small bites such as bruschetta, meatballs and a charcuterie boat. Try the Latina sandwich stacked with hot capocollo, spicy ham, roasted red bell peppers, provolone and pesto aioli on a warm, crunchy baguette. Other food trucks to look out for include Salsa Bites, The Pizza Sloth and a hot dog cart.
922 W. First St., 480-477-9212, theshop.beer

House of Tacos; Photo by Nikiana Medansky
House of Tacos; Photo by Nikiana Medansky
C Yatai Ramen

In September, the people behind food truck Yatai Ramen opened a cozy storefront west of downtown Tempe. The restaurant serves warming pork bone marrow broth ramen, including the Yatai Ramen signature bowl with chashu pork belly, egg, bamboo shoots, black fungus, bean sprouts, pickled ginger and scallions. Pair your ramen with home-made gyoza stuffed with pork and vegetables.
1101 W. University Dr., 480-967-7409

3 Things to Do
D Ted’s Refreshments

Get your game and drink on at Ted’s Refreshments, opened in September by Pedal Haus Brewery and Chandler Yacht Club owner Julian Wright. The bar has two spacious patios, shuffleboard, pool, beer pong and cornhole. Wright says the space will also include a retro arcade area and will soon offer smoked wings.
404 S. Mill Ave., 480-590-7371, tedsrefreshments.com

Ted's Refreshments; Photo by Nikiana Medansky
Ted’s Refreshments; Photo by Nikiana Medansky
E Tempe Farmers Market: the Dark Side

During the day, the Tempe Farmers Market sells fresh produce, organic bites and fresh smoothies. By night, the market turns into an intimate, speakeasy-inspired bar with a separate entrance. The bar hosts local musicians such as Roosevelt Street Jazz and proffers craft cocktails like the Romantic, an earthy elixir with gin, Cerasum, lemon, rosemary and rose water. Guests can play an old-school Nintendo or chess while sipping.
805 S. Farmer Ave., 480-557-9970, facebook.com/thedarksidetfm

F ASU Art Museum

A hidden gem for art lovers, ASU Art Museum at Nelson Fine Arts Center on Mill Avenue and 10th Street is home to internationally known artists and an extensive regional art collection. The three-floor museum rotates exhibits seasonally. Check out Begin at the End, running until February 1, which features visual explorations of the written word by 14 contemporary artists.
51 E. 10th St., 480-965-2787, asuartmuseum.asu.edu

Photo Op

You can’t miss the 9-foot-tall painted Adirondack chair on Mill Avenue and Fifth Street. Grab a seat and strike a pose. The design won’t stay the same for long – local artists take turns painting the chair quarterly.

Photo by Nikiana Medansky
Photo by Nikiana Medansky
Extended Stay!
Tempe Mission Palms 

Located in the heart of downtown Tempe, Tempe Mission Palms is walking distance to many restaurants, bars and activities. The hotel has a view of “A” Mountain – an easy uphill hike with panoramic views of the city.
60 E. Fifth St., 480-894-1400, destinationhotels.com/tempe-mission-palms

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