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Frances, a gift boutique.
NEIGHBORHOOD GUIDE

A guide to local favorites in North Central

Frances, a gift boutique.
  • By Carrie Wheeler
  • Photos by Dominic Valente
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North Central Phoenix
Phoenix
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The area around Camelback Road and Central Avenue is the hub of a movement in Phoenix to buy local. Clusters of 1950s- and ’60s-era strip malls have been revitalized and developed, many into independently owned boutiques and restaurants. Accessible from downtown via the light rail, the area has loads of retail shops and reliable dining spots.

Meet Carrie Wheeler

Carrie has lived in the Phoenix area since 3rd grade. She left for short stints in Osaka, D.C. and L.A., but has always found her way back to the desert. One of her favorite things about living in the Valley: the smell of creosote bushes after a rain. Her biggest dislike: finding live scorpions in and around her house.

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North Central Phoenix

Changing Hands Bookstore/First Draft Book Bar
Books and beer make great bedfellows. A circa-1950s steakhouse turned independent bookstore, bar and event space is home to book clubs, writing classes, kids’ story times, a host of other community-centric events … and, of course, a great selection of books.
Changing Hands Bookstore/First Draft Book Bar, 300 W. Camelback Rd. Phoenix, Ariz. 85013
Bonus Round
A self-proclaimed “nerd bar,” Bonus Round has video games, a weekly Geeks Who Drink trivia night and even a monthly Sexy Nerdy Burlesque show.
Bonus Round, 24 W. Camelback Rd. Phoenix, Ariz. 85013
Frances
In Portland, Ore., people put a bird on everything. In Phoenix, it’s a cactus. Frances sells a mix of gifts for men, women and kids, many made by local artists and crafters, but its Arizona Souvenir Shop, with Arizona-themed pins, T-shirts, onesies and stickers, is the best place to get those “only in Phoenix” mementos.
Frances, 10 W. Camelback Rd. Phoenix, Ariz. 85013
Windsor
Windsor is a neighborhood restaurant with a cozy interior and patio that serves casual food such as burgers, sandwiches and salads with a slightly upscale bent. After dinner, stop into the adjoining dessert spot, Churn, for a scoop of ice cream or a cookie. Sister restaurants Federal Pizza, Postino (Italian wine bar) and Joyride (Mexican) are right across the street.
Windsor, 5223 N. Central Ave. Phoenix, Ariz. 85012
For the People
This store offers a well-curated selection of home, office and personal goods with simple designs and clean lines. The in-house craft coffee shop, Kream Coffee, is a favorite for coffee aficionados.
For the People, 5102 N. Central Ave. Phoenix, Ariz. 85012
Uptown Plaza
Recently returned to its original 1950s state, this strip mall has a mix of local food and gift shops. Besides West Elm and Shake Shack, you’ll find trendy sneakers at Manor, minimalist Instagram-worthy items at Local Nomad, poke bowls and green chile tuna melts at Chula Seafood, and a local IPA and sausage board at Huss Brewing.
Uptown Plaza, 100 E. Camelback Rd. Phoenix, Ariz. 85012
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Carrie Wheeler
Carrie has lived in the Phoenix area since 3rd grade. She left for short stints in Osaka, D.C. and L.A., but has always found her way back to the desert. One of her favorite things about living in the Valley: the smell of creosote bushes after a rain. Her biggest dislike: finding live scorpions in and around her house.
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Dominic Valente
Dominic is a contributing photographer to The Washington Post based in Phoenix.

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