Phoenix Public Market Café, interior.

Eating is very important for a thinking, doing person. Sometimes, rapt in a creative fervor, one forgets, and ends up grazing on odds and ends left in the cabinet or fridge: the bottom of a cereal box, a questionably old apple, a bag of flour.

Forced breaks are good. Getting up from the desk, the computer, the studio, and venturing out into the world where people bring you food is one of the wonders of living in a city. Being able to stay put at a table for hours without the staff angrily tapping their fingers is also a relaxing blessing.

My favorite place for a midday work break used to be the Urban Grocery at the Phoenix Public Market. You could get a half sandwich, soup and a drink next door at Royal Coffee for under ten dollars. Sadly, since they closed, I realized how important it was to find a place where you could take a break and eat or where you could work all day and have good food available to you.

Aaron Chamberlin’s Public Market Café has stepped up to fill the Grocery’s shoes with small nutritious meals and a great indoor or outdoor seating environment. Even on the hottest days, it feels comfortable and welcome to sit outside in the shade under the misters. Refillable iced tea and hours until 10 p.m. make it possible to cover all your meals, should you choose to stay there all day, or at least be available for a reliable break at any hour.

Angel’s Trumpet, inside with extensive, ever-evolving beer list. Photo by Kim Larkin

For so long I’d been searching for a place where I could work in relative peace and possibly have a beer without having to fight (sometimes perhaps literally) with downtown sports enthusiasts and banners advertising Budweiser or Blue Moon. Angel’s Trumpet has answered those prayers. Not only is the staff super friendly and knowledgeable but the place is also large enough that you can carve out a corner to set up and write, work or computerize. They are also open late with food served all day, so you can easily drop in for a lunch or break from work.

If these places seem a bit too pricey and you just need a place to eat and not work, La Tolteca, on Van Buren cannot be beat anywhere in the vicinity. The menu is huge, the staff is friendly, there’s always seating available and you have the added benefit of hovering over the baked items while you wait for your food. Al Pastor tacos, ceviche for less than six dollars, a giant cup of jamaica and a great salsa selection make this place a must-stop for all artists and musicians trying to save a buck, but have tons of food. I dare you to try to eat the entire burrito at once (please don’t).

La Tolteca and their giant menu. Photo by Jen Urso

Other locations that do wonderfully as eat/work or break/eat places include Fair Trade Cafe, America’s Taco Shop, Jobot, Bonjour Vietnam at the Hotel San Carlos, and Athenian Express (cheapest breakfast anywhere!).

Don’t forget, too, that most of these places are likely staffed by budding artists, musicians and performers. Working in a restaurant provides people somewhat flexible schedules so they can make a living and still be able to create their work. This comes in handy for occasional “hey I know you” discounts for artists or, for non-artists you have the opportunity to boost an artist’s ego by asking what they do.