What is First Friday Phoenix? Well, as the name suggests, this is a public art event that takes place every first Friday of a month in Phoenix, Arizona. The event is a local art event sponsored by Artlink Phoenix. The first Friday art walk starts from 6 to 10 pm, then the last circuit of the trolley starts at 9:30 pm. After these hours, the event continues at local bars and restaurants. Thousands of people take over the downtown streets of Phoenix to be part of this event. The interaction includes several activities like viewing gallery exhibits, outdoor vendors, enjoy indie bands, street performances, and check out local restaurants and bars. A larger population of participants is always young people, although there is no discrimination as everyone can be a part of the event. First Friday is currently one of the most extensive self-guided art walks in the world, which involves more than 80 art spaces galleries and studios.
Where does First Friday take place? Okay, with a breakdown of the neighborhoods, it becomes effortless to know places to visit on this day. Starting from around 6 pm, two trolleys run at an interval of 30 minutes. Each trolley makes six to eight stops. Both trolleys run through Roosevelt Row, but one trolley heads to Central Arts Districts as the other goes to Historic grand Avenue District. Arizona Center is the central hub, and it is located at Third and Taylor streets. The artlink provides a complete map showing the participating locations. There are four locations included, which are:
1. Roosevelt Row
This location has boundaries from Culver to Fillmore streets and from Seventh Avenue to 16th street. Roosevelt Row is the most visited street hence considered as the heart of First Friday. The district was named the country’s best district in 2014 due to its popularity and walkability. Roosevelt has galleries and studios in every turn as well as a variety of entertainment on the side streets. When exploring this street, you will encounter famous galleries such as MonOrchid, colorful Alwun House, Eye Lounge, and Modified Arts. MonOrchid is well known in the country for it houses two galleries. These are just part of the venues you are sure of encountering down the street, but several others are making the trip more entertaining.
Are there bars and restaurants down the street? Roosevelt has several restaurants and bars, and First Friday, participants have to choose what suits them best. There is Lost Leaf, which is a cozy house. This place has turned bar features into fantastic craft beers and wine. The performing live music at this place is one of a kind. The other bars and restaurants in the area are Carly’s Bistro, Taco Chelo, Paz Cantina, Genuwine, and Bliss.
2. Warehouse District
Warehouse District is another fantastic location to visit on First Fridays. The street is also known as the South of Roosevelt Row. Down the street, galleries are scattered about together with lots of amazing bars and restaurants. The Arizona Science Center is along this route, and it creates space for participants. The Science Center is opened until 8 pm for members. By heading further south, there is the Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center, CityScape, and Handcrafted, which is known to be a heritage square maker. Further down the Warehouse district, there is the well recognized ASU School of art’s Step and Bentley Gallery.
The warehouse district also has favorite bars and restaurants for participants. The Duce is a large warehouse that features a boxing ring, a bar, and a spacious patio. At this bar, they serve the cocktail in mason jars; their food is delicious and is also served in a jar. The is also Deli Tavern restaurant on this route. This restaurant used to occupy the space for many years. Hearty breakfast dishes and sandwiches are participant’s best meals in Deli Tavern. The features of a cool bar in this restaurant makes visitors chat for a more extended period when relaxing.
3. Grand Avenue
The boundaries in this location run from Seventh to 15th avenues and from Roosevelt to Van Buren streets. The quirky district gives a broad taste of art. Grand Avenue has galleries and art spaces such as Sisao gallery, Walter studios, the Gallery, Grand ArtHaus and Five15 Arts. In this location, participants will find the taiko-drumming studio, a letterpress printing shop, and funky boutiques. The Grand Avenue is a changed district now as business owners and artists are working to shape their region. The district currently has ample parking space, plenty of street lighting artsy planters, and colorful murals.
Just like the other districts, this location also has bars and restaurants. Grand Avenue Pizza Company is one of them. The company serves pies and is opened until Monday in the wee hours. The long time favorite Bikini Lounge is also on this street. The lounge is known for its cheap drinks and dark laid-back vibe. The bar does not allow credit cards, so it is good to carry cash or be ready to use the ATM on site. The other bars and restaurants on this street are Novel Ice Cream and Thirdspace.
4. Midtown Phoenix
Midtown Phoenix boundaries run along McDowell road. The boundaries cover Central Avenues, Seventh Avenues, 16th street, and then from Palm lane to Camelback Road. On First Friday, the Phoenix Art Museum and the Heard Museum offer free admission. The Heard Museum showcases the Native + You series on this day. Down the Valley Metro light rail street, other art spaces open on First Friday. The street has several studios too, the likes of Garfield Galleria and the Found.
Bars and restaurants are in consideration, along with Midtown phoenix. On First Friday, participants can visit Open + Vine, which is a charming restaurant, tucked in an old brick home off the light rail. Here participants can take salads, flatbreads, sandwiches, and green Chile chicken. The octolio restaurant is also along the street. This place is for those who love the stylish interior and sprawling patio in Phoenix. The restaurant is a dinner spot and a place for happy hour with a wide selection of cocktails and wine.