Wrapping up nearly a year of anticipation, Tempe Public Market Cafe is finally open. This official debut is perhaps no more exciting than to the cafe’s immediate—and patient—neighbors in South Tempe, a graciously underfed area too-long resigned to the thrills of stucco retail pads and the fast-casual franchise.
Tempe Public Market Cafe is the third project among a growing family of local restaurants by go-go chef Aaron Chamberlin and his brother David Chamberlin, together of whom are also the personalities behind uptown Phoenix’s dining pioneer St. Francis and downtown Phoenix’s now everyday-essential Phoenix Public Market Cafe. (The Chamberlins’ next and fourth undertaking Taco Chelo is set to be unveiled early this year along Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix.)
Eager to open their latest endeavor for some time, with a pre-launch social media build-up unlike many before it, Chef Chamberlin hopes to import a similar sense of gravity—and loyalty—his downtown Phoenix cafe now enjoys in spades to South Tempe. “I’m so excited to bring this restaurant to the southeast Valley, where I grew up,” said Aaron, who attended high school in the nearby community of Mesa. “Whether you’re in search of a quick bite with coffee or a full supper, we have something to nourish you and are excited to help build the Tempe community through fresh, wholesome food and drink.”
Part of a ground-up redo of a forgotten, corroding Circle K gas station on the northeast corner of Rural and Warner roads, the dramatically reanimated South Tempe space unfolds with all the atmospheric comforts its neighbors will immediately appreciate—a new point of pride for a vicinity with a thirst for restaurant relevance. From seamless indoor-outdoor dining and bar real estate, vaulted indoor ceilings with preserved brick throughout, fireplace-centered spaces for lounging, as well as a sweeping, climate-controlled patio area hardwired for hangout year-round, the once sufferable must of schlepping to central Phoenix, Scottsdale, or even Gilbert, for a better-quality meal away might finally begin to seem unnecessary.
Open daily, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Tempe Public Market Cafe’s menus are engineered much like its Phoenix counterpart—friendly foods executed efficiently, with ethos and flavor in mind. Many of the Phoenix cafe’s menu classics reappear here, like Chef Chamberlin’s health-minded salads and bowls, burgers and market sandwiches, as well as the diner-style breakfasts, and the acclaimed gluten glories of the Chamberlins’ other star kitchen player, Executive Pastry Chef Sarah Chisholm. Other imported prizes include locally-roasted coffee (here by Tucson-based Presta Coffee) available dine-in or grab-and-go, house-pressed juices, and booze by way of easy-drinking cocktails, beers by tap or bottle, or wine local and imported. Oh, and those damn-fine french fries? Order a double.
The clearest detour from the Phoenix cafe, in an effort to further personalize the Tempe location, is the roll-out of a new pizza program—here a lineup of regularly-changing options; a range of thick-ish crust, sheet-pan pies topped both traditional or as you prefer.
As a resident of South Tempe, I don’t simply live near Tempe Public Market Cafe, I live within a very brief walk. Confessions of a tired commuter? I am thrilled to welcome my newest neighbor.
- For Tempe Public Market Cafe’s full details + menus, click here.
- For more on South Tempe dining, click here.
All photos, credit: Awe Collective