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(flickr/Scrap Arcs)

Update 12/07/2011: For my most recent ode to Luci’s (with a similar sentiment) in the Downtown Phoenix Journal, go HERE.

Each and every day, Phoenix is maturing.

From all reference points, urban life in Phoenix is becoming less and less like the cynical joke it was just 5-10 years ago. Though there will always be another new cheap suburb to move to, or a cancerous mega-development on the fringes to call home, the city’s center is solidifying.

While I would belt out a resounding “no thank you,” to those said disgusting fringe developments, it is an unfortunate reality of life here. Fortunately for us stubborn, merry urbanites, Phoenix’s incessant growth has finally begun to bear fruits where it really counts – in its heart.

One of the biggest symptoms of becoming a truly vibrant place is the proliferation of not merely independent businesses, but independent businesses with character, charm and style.

Let us welcome one of those newly-minted fruits – Luci’s Healthy Marketplace. Kudos are in order for owners (and natives) Ken and Lucia Schnitzer, for some urban TLC well done.

Though not overbearingly health-conscious, Luci’s does angle toward what is better for our bodies. After all, the new neighborhood market is named after Lucia, herself a survivor of breast cancer.

Located in North Central Phoenix, on Bethany Home and 16th St., Luci’s is the latest food magnet to set up shop near an intersection that has already become quite the hub of its own.

Über-popular nearby haunts include the Richardson’s family of restaurants, which in addition to its namesake restaurant, also include Dick’s Hideaway and the Rokerij (read: roke-er-y).

There is also Phoenix City Grille, a power-spot for local politicians. Famous (and politically inclined) regulars include former Arizona governor turned homeland guardian Janet Napolitano, and Arizona’s current senators, John McCain and Jon Kyl. Not to be outshone, Texaz Grill and the Golden Phoenix also come to mind as popular neighbors. The latter, being one the few remaining great, old-school Chinese restaurants in all of central Phoenix.

Essentially, the secret is out. The ‘hood is cool.

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(thehotsheetblog.com/GPCVB)

Luci’s sells a variety of items you’d find in a larger, corporate grocer, but it does so in an atmosphere that is unique, casual and hip-ly retro. Think La Grande Orange with a bit more variety in product, sans the trappings of the conspicuously status-aware.

Besides produce, meats, bread (thanks to Simply Bread), dairy and other tenets of a legitimate market, Luci’s also sells eco-friendly gifts, cosmetics, cleaning supplies and many other green household products.

There is a coffee bar serving organic, locally-roasted java, and a gourmet takeaway counter full of inexpensive eats prepared in-house at their charming demonstration kitchen. There is also a nice section of wines and beers.

Due to a quiet opening, Luci’s has already been in business for a short time. This weekend and the week after however – May 17th to 23rd – is the big “grand opening celebration.”

Luci’s Heathly Marketplace | lucishealthymarketplace.com | 1590 E. Bethany Home | North Central Phoenix | 602-773-1339

Luci's Market & Coffee Bar on Urbanspoon