While visiting Phoenix recently, learned a useful new phrase -- "the beta." Learned it from the proprietor at Conspire, a very cool coffeeshop/arthouse/neighborhood collective said to have the best coffee in town.
Conspire was once an ordinary house, but has become a 21st-century hang-out., The Americano-style coffee is absolutely superb, perhaps the best I've ever had, and the chatter is spiky and upbeat.
I told the bright-eyed proprietor that his place was changing my opinion of Phoenix, which I imagined (based on the drive in to town) as "this monster city where everyone drove an Escalade."
A cruel over-generalization, obviously, but he took it in stride, admitted there was some truth to it, but said that his work/live neighborhood of galleries, restaurants, and such was different, and offered me "the beta" on where to go in what is known as the "Artisan Village."
He mentioned a cool house-turned-bar across the street, called The Lost Leaf. Tried out The Lost Leaf that night after a movie, and found it delightful -- it's for twentysomethings, mostly, so I'm too old to stay long, but if you're of that age and looking for a place to hang out, have some wine or beer, and flirt -- go.
Also worth checking out is a little restaurant nearby called The Nile Cafe, where proprietor David, who is as young and friendly as seemingly everyone else in the Roosevelt Row area, serves delicious and reasonably priced breakfast, lunch, and dinners in a "Mediterranean" style, meaning falafel, gyro, soups, Greek salads, and more. The lemon chicken soup is especially good.
Being a poverty-stricken free-lance journalist, stayed while at the convention at the Phoenix Hostel, which is not listed in the phone book, but appropriately is readily available through the intertubes, costs about $20 a night, and is perfectly decent, if unspectacular. Given that most hotels these days seem to be run by surly Dementors, and offer rooms so reeking of stale cigarettes that even former smokers such as yours truly are repulsed, an ordinary house in which one shares a room with other itinerant travelers is actually a more restful experience.
So there's "the beta" on downtown Phoenix. I figured the term must be a computer-related, but it actually comes from the world of climbing, as in "Hey Jack, give me the beta on those moves over the roof."
Here's a picture of the back of the hostel, behind the men's dorm. As owner/operator "Sue City" said: "It's not so bad":