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When two restaurant entrepreneurs, crowd funding, and a space with a deep history combine, the result is a new restaurant perfectly tailored for Roosevelt Row and the booming downtown Phoenix food scene. After almost three years of anticipation, The Dressing Room finally fired up the grill earlier this year and has been cooking ever since. Located in the heart of Phoenix’s colorful cultural hub of the Roosevelt Arts District, The Dressing Room brings plenty of its own color, art, and culture into the mix.
The Dressing Room (220 E Roosevelt St, Phoenix, AZ 85004) sits at the end of The monOrchid building along with its sister coffee shop, be Coffee + Food + Stuff, The monOrchid Gallery, and The Bosque plant shop. Local architect, Mark Ryan, lead the redesign of the co-oped space’s interior, including cutting out a pass-through connecting the entire building and allowing diners to order The Dressing Room’s menu from all other establishments sharing the space. Conversely, diners at the Dressing Room are invited to explore the art exhibits rotating through monOrchid’s gallery.
Upon entering, the small box of a restaurant transforms into a buzzing new-age diner full of contemporary art and boasting an industrial design. The kitchen-facing bar and the side-alley patio fill up quickly as diners order their fill of eclectic “elevated shack food.” Everything from the hearty RoRo Burger – toasted English muffins stacked with Tender Belly Bacon, Gruyere cheese, gastrique onion, butter lettuce, and house spicy Russian sauce – down to the side salad – topped with house-roasted Peruvian corn nuts, fresh vegetables, and tangy vinaigrette – offers unique layers of flavor and texture that give the gallery art a run for its money.
The Dressing Room serves up a selection of global street food with an emphasis on detail, ready to satisfy any craving that comes to the table. The menu is packed with house-made sauces, sides, and toppings for each unique dish. Diners can try Korean Yakatori skewers (made with marinated ribeye, sesame seeds, green onion, peanut sauce, miso slaw, and lettuce cups) and Peruvian Ceviche Salad (featuring white fish ceviche, Peruvian corn, maize tostado, red onion, sweet potato, shredded cabbage, butter lettuce, and coconut lime vinaigrette) all in one sitting.
The Dressing Room’s name is a tribute to the diverse line of tenants that claimed the lot before, namely one of the Valley’s inaugural drag bars, The 307, which used the space as a dressing room. Most recently, it served as the micro-venue for local band, Wooden Indian and many others. Current owners and life-long friends, Troy Watkins and Kyu Utsunomiya, wanted to make sure The Dressing Room lived up to its location’s history. The creative pair turned to KickStarter to help fund the project, and in just 30 days they raised more than $38,000. The money was poured into renovations and additions, such as the side-alley patio dining area and the industrial construction dumpster bin turned prep-kitchen.
Watkins and Utsunomiya have decades of experience at top Valley restaurants and hotels. Now, as the co-owners of Conceptually Social, a restaurant concept group, the two wanted to make their new space valuable to the community. That’s why they work with the other tenants in the co-oped space to put on community events such as the first annual Doggy Drag Show held in early August and the Chocolate Art Show coming up in September. They also brought mural artist JB Snyder to commission a fresh piece on the side of The Dressing Room to replace his previous painting that coated the east-facing wall of the building.
The Dressing Room opens daily at 11 am and hits the ground running with happy hour from open until 6 pm everyday. The full menu is available until close at 11 pm Monday through Thursday, midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and 10 pm on Sundays. Get your fill of half off all alcoholic drinks during happy hour and finish out every visit with their signature dessert: the Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream and fresh, house-made churro sandwich.
Photos courtesy of The Dressing Room.