A Local’s Guide to a Historic Neighborhood Turned Artisan Haven
Pick up a hand butchered filet mignon for dinner, try a vinyasa yoga class, or enjoy a craft brew with friends in this local neighborhood. What was once three by three blocks of run-down shops with foreclosure signs in their windows is now a hub for new businesses who cater to life-long residents and Northern Arizona University students alike through a sustainable focus and local-friendly practices. Downtown Flagstaff, Arizona has been separated historically into North and South by the Santa Fe railroad tracks and the historic Route 66 highway, but recent developments are fusing the two together, creating boundless economic and social benefits.
“South San Francisco [street] has been revitalized with lots of rad local businesses,” said local Kevin Kirkley, whose passion for snowboarding brought him to the area. He mentioned Proper Meats and Co as one of the most successful new additions. Serving as a neighborhood butcher shop and casual eatery, it is the first outlet in Arizona to provide exclusively farm-raised meats from the state. They also offer local cheeses, breads, house-made soups, sandwiches, and light entrees. Try their Warm Allepo Pepper Pastrami sandwich for a common favorite with a southwest flare.
A commitment to farm-fresh ingredients has been of high importance to local Flagstaff business owners for years, but the movement is finally spreading beyond the Amtrak station, and heading south towards campus. Ewas Thai Restaurant moved onto San Francisco Street in July, renovating an old strip joint into a cozy establishment serving up delicious curry, pad thai, and a variety of soups prepared by authentic chefs from Thailand. They also offer mouthwatering gluten free options like their papaya salad: A Thai specialty with green papaya, carrot, green beans, peanut, fresh Thai chili and lime juice ($8.95). Flagstaff local, Lindsey Anstead described Ewa’s as an “unknown jewel.”
Looking for take out? Stop by the Tourist Home Urban Market. A former boarding house for migrant sheepherders, the once decrepit building is now part restaurant and part storefront. They serve up fresh meals daily that are kept simple with usually no more than 5 ingredients. Offering a variety of delicious deli salads, sandwiches, soups, baked pastries, and hand butchered meats, the Tourist Home is a perfect place to stop in on your way home from work to pick up dinner.
Night owl? Primos Hot Dogs is the all-time pre-hangover spot to hit up around 2:00am. Packed with locals, this joint offers specials like the “chili and lime slaw dog.” They have a beautiful seating area (the sidewalk out front) where you can dig your face into a hot dog and slur out, “THIS IS SAHHH GOOD” and no one will judge you for it. They also offer vegetarian and vegan fare that is equally as delicious as the real thing.
Speaking of hangovers, the South Side has several places to indulge in specialty cocktails or a locally crafted ale, stout, or lager. The Beaver Street Brewery has defined itself as the Southside’s premier places to stop in for a drink. Belly up to the bar and order a Big Rapid Red, the locals favorite with hints of caramel and a hoppy kick. Their most recent addition is a billiard hall with daily happy hour specials and 5 full size pool tables.
In addition to the spread of delectable local cuisine and lively bar scene, South Side of Flagstaff offers cheap lodging arrangements in the form of two family-run hostels that offer hotel comparable lodging on a budget. Hit up the Du Beau Hostel for a “deluxe” private room complete with double bed, cable television, desk, mini fridge, and immaculately kept bathroom (rates from $58). If you have done any research on a place to rest your head, you know that this is the cheapest around! If you’re looking for a more community-based experience, try their sister hostel around the corner. The Grand Canyon Hostel offers dormitory-style rooms starting at $23 dollars a night for a twin bunk bed, complimentary breakfast, free wifi, laundry, showers, and a cozy place to stay in the center of this thriving neighborhood.
After a good nights sleep, head over to Macy’s European Coffee House around the corner and pick up a beautifully crafted cup of strong brew. Voted best coffee house for the past three years, Macy’s is the local watering hole, providing an extensive menu of specialty coffee drinks ranging from a perfectly concocted cappuccino to a cafe viennese – a latte with cinnamon, clove, and allspice-whipped cream ($3.50 for a Medium). There is also a 25 cent discount for bringing in your own mug. Incentive to protect your pocketbook and the environment at the same time.
With some European espresso running through your veins, it’s time for some activity. Located within the same 3 block radius is the Northern Arizona Yoga center. With an array of Yoga classes from basic flow, to vinyasa, to “full body maintenance”, this studio offers personalized treatment in a supportive environment.
The reinvestment in South Side Flagstaff has created a conducive environment for sustainable practices, excellent food, and overall wellness. The sense of community here is apparent. Whether its a conversation you over-hear about when the next farmers market is going down, or the “buy local” stickers plastered on every street sign, you know that the residents living here are all on the same page. The people are happy, business is thriving, and the potential for growth is exponential. This section of Flagstaff is only a small segment of what Northern Arizona has to offer and needless to say it is worth exploring.