Want to go where the locals go? Read DPJ’s new E&D Beat and visit some favorite Eats & Drinks destinations.
Local Fave: Lux Central
District: Midtown Phoenix
Owner: Jeff Fischer
Identity: “It’s your third space,” says bartender Ben Linsenmeyer of Lux Central. “It’s a place that’s not home or work but that third space you spend the rest of your time. The place you feel comfortable enough to grab your cup of coffee before work and then return to for a late night cocktail with friends.” Ben explains that owner Jeff Fischer had a vision of creating this third space for his guests after attending a business conference about such things. What you won’t get here is a map telling you where to order, pick up, or someone telling you where to sit. “It’s meant to be that way,” Ben says. “People who don’t like our concept usually leave frustrated but then return with their friends, usually the very next day, explaining how it all works with a sense that now they’re ‘the cool ones’.”
Find Your Way: The space offers an urban feel with brick walls and rigid textures complimented by sleek, mid-century furnishings. On every surface sits another unique piece of art or a trinket that is waiting to tell you its story. You’d hardly expect this place to be considered a bar. In fact, the puzzling layout forces you to walk the entire space, discovering different corners that reveal elements of the conceptual bar/restaurant/roastery. Menus seem to be misplaced and employees aren’t outright identifiable. Any newcomer might initially be turned off, but a little exploration will have them delighted with this unconventional watering hole.
Have A Seat: With numerous seating areas, including a few different types of bars to sit at, you get a variety of experiences. Belly up to the low-sitting, polished-stone bar counter and watch your favorite bartender mix up a cocktail from fresh ingredients that are literally at your finger tips. Take your cocktail to one of the many community tables where you can chat with a business CEO and a local artist, finding an unexpected common ground. For the foodies, a comfy seating arrangement of tufted sofas or rough cut wood picnic style bench faces the open stainless steel kitchen.
The Eats: Find everything from organic steel cut oats to vegetarian egg bakes, seasonal pies and cookies, weekend breakfast NY strip steaks, and mac n’ cheese. This is a true local, seasonal menu offering the best in comfort food. The real fun is coming in to see the lunch and dinner offerings that change daily.
The Drinks: You’ll find the cocktail menu carefully handwritten on note cards, taped to a clear divider at the end of the bar. The bartenders are also happy to whip up something special, just for you. With high-end spirits and fresh herbs and produce, these mixologists will find a way to your inner buzz. As for beer and wine, Lux has a menu of over 50 domestic, local, craft, and imported brews, along with beautiful, recognizable wines and some approachable exotics – all fairly priced.
What They Say: “Lux is that place that everyone is leaving, going to, or is already at,” says Lux Central regular Emily Caldwell, owner of Gallery Parallax. She explains that you can arrive by yourself and by the end of your visit have made five new friends. Alternatively, you can find yourself a quiet nook and enjoy a house-roasted coffee or daily inspired cocktail while studying or working.
Report: Lux Central offers a social experiment, with a melting pot of guests and an eccentric, but exceptional service strategy. You’ll never have the same experience twice, but always the same quality in eats and drinks. Cheating on Lux to enjoy other places is expected, but this is the place where you’ll always return: Phoenix’s unique third space.