Casual dining · upscale dining

Lux: Like Gangsta’s Paradise… but with Hipsters

For those that are unaware, there are three distinct ‘foodie’ personalities in the greater Phoenix area: West side, Scottsdale, and downtown.  Scottsdale has the best party bars, the best upscale clubs, great food at a price that makes you say it’s better if only just to justify it.  The west side is a different animal.  You get over $7 a drink and it starts getting a little too pricey, but on the other hand once you’ve established yourself, you will be treated like family.  Sure those fancy ‘Tom Cruisy’ bartenders are cool, but did Tom Cruise ever talk to the same 10 people every shift for 15 years and make them feel like part of their life? I don’t know, I didn’t watch that movie.  Then there’s downtown… anything can happen downtown.  You’re not a good downtown bar unless you do four different things and also good coffee. Lux is most definitely a downtown bar.

Lux Central: Uptown Phoenix Arizona Cocktail Bar


Overall Impression

Excellent! Food: Great! Drinks: Great! Service: Weird! Clientele: Eclectic! I will admit, I literally said: “This place is so hipster it makes me want to vomit into somebody’s latte”, but to be fair… I’m not wrong.  The ambiance section of this entry is by far the most entertaining.


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Cinnamon Roll & Some Kind of Pastry

Bill

Farmers market Scramble
Bacon, Egg, Cheddar Hash
Sausage Biscuits and Gravy
Cinnamon Roll
Some kind of pastry
4 Assorted Coffees and Teas

~60 after tip

Other things had here:

Various cocktails

Drinks

Now this is not my first time being to Lux… but it is my first time going during the daytime and also sober.  My ‘booze notebook’, as I so fondly refer to it, is telling me that the first time I was here I had a drink composed of the following: Absinthe, benedictine, aperol, lemon, pine, egg white, rose water. I distinctly recall being very impressed with the balance and composition of this drink.  It was floral in the right ways, it was bitter in the right ways, it made a clear impression.  I would love to give my valued readers better tasting notes but I can’t since that was bar number 3 or 4 and also several months ago.  I have since had several cocktails there and also been impressed but I apparently did not have my booze book on me since I have neglected to write down what they were or what was in them.  

On this particular occasion we found ourselves at Lux at approximately 11:30 and also with my family so drinking was rather frowned upon at that particular moment.  Mostly a family thing, less of a time thing.  I contented myself with some of the house made iced chai which I found to be somewhat lacking in flavor.  I think it might be excellent as a hot tea though so I’m sure I will have to try that in future.  Katie got herself a “White out”, which is some kind of coffee concoction which she greatly enjoyed, though tasting notes are minimal on account of 14 year old’s like everything hipster, regardless of actual quality. The internet yields no answers on what exactly a “white out” is, other than it presumably has something to do with the way the milk is steamed and also the foam is very white on top.  Thrilling, I know.  Lux is well reputed for it’s coffee and if one is coffee-inclined I would absolutely recommend it, based on the recommendations of others.  Check a coffee blog or something for that.  I can’t help you.

Food

This was ( I believe) the first time I’ve ever eaten at Lux, and it is absolutely a delight to finally try some of the things they put on their rather enticing Instagram feed. To be honest, we really wanted lunch but in celebration of MLK Jr. day, they were doing breakfast all day, which made perfect sense to me but agitated my mother to no end.  I went ahead and ordered the “Farmers Market Vegetable Three Egg Scramble” which is just unspecific enough to work.  I have no food allergies and am generally positive about all vegetables so I felt like this was a safe bet and also gave me a great opportunity to try something more ‘chef’s special-y’.  I was positively delighted to say the least.  My scramble included grilled (or sauteed?) zucchini, some kind of mushroom, probably onions, and almost certainly spinach.  The Zucchini was prepared to perfection… not too hard, not too soft, full of flavor.  My mom said it looked kind of flavorless and unappealing, but I said the same could be said about her face! (Just kidding mom, I love you, thank you for supporting me.)  But for real, she was right.  It didn’t actually look that good, it just tasted spectacular which is the important part, unless you want to Instagram it.  The bread that came with it was probably a sourdough and I must say I was very impressed.  Normally when someone says sourdough I’m basically out, due to my aforementioned TMJ which means hard breads are a big no-no.  But I did persevere, since I owe it to my readers (and also I straight up love bread).  While I would definitely describe it as a ‘hard bread’, it was shockingly easy for me to eat without feeling like my jaw wouldn’t move later.  I didn’t finish it, because even martyrs must have their limits… but shout out to Lux for making really great bread to go with their really great pastries.

My mom chose to get the Aunt Ida’s Biscuits and Gravy with Sausage and Two Fried Eggs.  I will almost certainly be having this next time I come here.  It’s very hard to impress with a classic dish like Biscuits and Gravy but Lux absolutely did.  Most of the impression was made in the biscuit… it was flaky and flavorful with multiple layers and a great crispiness to the top and the bottom without feeling like you were fighting your biscuit.  It also stood up very well to the gravy, maintaining its structure and it’s flakiness throughout the eating process, which can sometimes take a while.  It certainly wouldn’t have hurt for a little more spiciness and that’s probably where the chorizo option comes in, as well as the menagerie of hot sauces available at the pick up counter.

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Pictured: a menagerie

Michael had: AUNT GLADYS’S HOMEMADE SALSA OVER FOUR STRIPS TENDER BELLY BACON WITH THREE SCRAMBLED EGGS WHITE CHEDDAR AND HASH.  Being the simple man he is, I was shocked at the depth and complexity of tasting notes he provided me with… “Mine has Eggs!”  So Deep… So Mysterious… Well, without more in depth tasting notes I must regale you with what I might have observed while dining.  Allow me to put your mind at ease; the bacon looked excellent.  Not too crispy, not too chewy, just that perfect middle ground where you don’t have to fight it away from it’s breakfast-brethren.  The salsa would be much better described as a pico-de-gallo which is just fine by me (an avid pico fan), but probably less so for many Phoenicians who are accustomed to the kinds of salsa that make you cry a little bit while you’re eating.  As with every other dish, the eggs were cooked to perfection.  Crispy edges abounded here, I can tell you that.  While “hashes” are not my style, I would not hesitate to recommend this dish to many of my friends.

Pastries

Pastries are their own section, apart from food on account of I don’t consider them food.  I consider them dessert that people have convinced themselves aught to be food since they are occasionally adorned with fruit and/or are otherwise socially accepted as breakfast.  THIS JUST IN: Pure sugar shouldn’t be breakfast!  My own personal perception apart, these were really really good pastries.  This is, obviously, as it should be, given that their Instagram is littered with such elaborate sugar and starch concoctions but it’s always nice to see someone doing their job right.  Would that I lived closer and could convince myself that cinnamon rolls were breakfast… Speaking of, this is almost certainly the best cinnamon roll I’ve ever had.  I stopped eating cinnamon rolls about two years ago when I devolved a taste for taste, rather than just abundant amounts of sugar and I can honestly say it made me very sad to not enjoy them anymore.  This roll ,however, is very different.  It has exactly the right balance between bread and icing, between cinnamon and sugar, between light and dark side.  This is a roll that appreciates the dough that went into it, rather than using it as a construct upon which to cascade confection.  Sure, maybe it could have used just a smidge more cinnamon, but I sincerely loved it the way it was.  I have also just been informed that the miscellaneous other pastry was a Strawberry Lemon Scone… still not breakfast, still very tasty.

Ambiance

As we were standing in line for to order our food, I commented to my family that it felt like some kind of commercial or avant-garde art piece commenting on the commercialization of the hipster movement.  We all shuffled slowly towards the counter to pay for the feeling of individualism and to desperately cling to the idea that we’re sticking it to the man by having a lunch somewhere odd.  It’s something that someone invested in the whole hipster/individualism movement might find perturbing, but as a professed ‘west side’ kinda girl, I found it incredibly entertaining.  Of course there were jokes made about Apple products and beanies and un-ironic use of the term ‘avant-garde’ but I was secretly (and not so secretly) very excited to finally eat there.  Also, I can only tease so much since I had previously had drinks there and very un-ironically enjoyed it.

Both my brother and my mom found it deeply unsettling that there was no prescribed seating system, nor did they give us a number or reference point to watch for our food.  I generally tend to trust in the system and Katie was wildly excited to be in such a vogue, hip place so we didn’t see much wrong with the system, but it’s not for the rigid of heart.  It’s also somewhat crowded, which compounded with the lack of structure, makes it a poor place for people who suffer from inability to deal with crowds or strangers.  While I also consider myself ‘not good’ with crowds or strangers, I know what to expect when coming to a place like this and can mentally prepare myself and ‘let go’ as is necessary when dealing with certain places downtown.  Perhaps I should have done a better job of preparing my mom for this.   We ended up sitting outside, which was excellent since it really was a nice day… my mom sat in the shade and claimed it to be slightly too cold to be outside while I sat on the sunny side of the table and found it slightly too hot.  This is clearly the mark of a family from Phoenix, since anywhere else in the United States would firmly agree that it was a perfect day and everyone everywhere should be outside.  My mother would also like to note that there was dirt in her shoes, a heinous crime to say the least.  Also, fun fact, the lady next to us looked exactly like Sarah Silverman and was clearly listening in on our conversation.  Whether she found it funny or not is… unclear. It’s also unimportant since we know that we are, in fact, hilarious.

The interior is what really makes this a hipster paradise.  I absolutely love the meta-ness of having a minimalistic artistic representation of your couch and tables painted above said couch and tables.  They also proudly display a very vogue looking painting of Ralph from the Simpsons.  I would describe the general atmosphere as “eye candy”, though I do get an extra special kick out of watching hipsters.  The specials are discreetly posted on a glass partition between the ‘cafe’ portion and the ‘bar’ portion which are virtually indistinguishable but also kind of there.  Once again, let’s hearken back to my family’s discomfort with the lack of structure.  Tables, chairs, and couches all have a distinctly found or reclaimed or rescued look to them which serves to make it homey, but only if your home is a cobbled together sham of a place (as mine is).  It almost makes me happy to sit on such a couch and think maybe they too were walking down the street and saw this perfectly good couch sitting on the corner, begging for a new home… but also it seems a little dirty so… maybe not? I find myself in a position where I have to carefully examine my feelings about Lux.  On the one hand, it feels incredibly pretentious and over priced.  On the other hand I like a lot of pretentious, over priced places.  On one hand, I am most certainly not a hipster and get a perverse joy out of making fun of them constantly.  On the other hand, I write a food blog and eat expensive places that I can’t afford and like things before they’re cool.

Essentially: I enjoy Lux a great deal but also feel like a hypocrite the moment I walk in there… and I almost enjoy that feeling too.


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“Mine Has Eggs” – Michael

 

 

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