What We’re Looking Forward to in Phoenix in 2021

Things are looking up already.

Desert Botanical Garden
Photo courtesy of Desert Botanical Garden
Photo courtesy of Desert Botanical Garden

While the memory of last year is still very, very fresh, like a phoenix from the ashes, our city and the people that make this place special (shoutout to all the essential workers and restaurant staff grinding out there!) are rising above the year that was. And with 2020 in the rearview, we can collectively look ahead at all the good stuff that’s to come in this new year. 

There’s a lot to look forward to, really. Like, the launch of new breweries, bars, restaurants, hotels, and outdoor gathering places. Oh, and some can’t-miss music festivals and some super-sweet art around the city. Here’s everything we’re excited about and looking forward to this year, Phoenix.

The Pemberton PHX
Photo by Lauren Topor Reichert

Hanging out safely with the local community... 

The Pemberton PHX
January 2021
This historic home recently underwent a super-hip makeover. The Pemberton House, built in 1920, is now Pemberton PHX, a buzzy community gathering place where you can grab a pint, catch an indie film outdoors, and work on your yoga poses. Making its debut this January, The Pemberton PHX aims to roll out additional concepts like a shiny new coffee shop that complements current denizens Saint Pasta and Dino’s Napoletana as well as socially distanced events in the coming months including live music shows and fitness classes. 

Epicenter at Agritopia
Fall 2021
Restaurants, retail shops, and urban living accommodations are coming to Agritopia this year. Slated to cut the ribbon this fall, Epicenter at Agritopia will be home to local restaurants like Matt’s Big Breakfast and the build-your-own-enchilada joint Gadzooks. Until its anticipated opening, you can pass the time by devouring wood-fired pizza and crushing pints of cold craft beer or experimental canned wine at Agritopia’s nearby craftsmen community, BARNONE.  

Air Guitar
Late 2021
Air Guitar, a sort of modern-day convenience store, will be taking up residence right next door to Epicenter. The new concept will include all types of grab-and-go goodies as well as beer, wine, coffee, and tea dished in a sleek setting with no shortage of generous outdoor park-like seating options for the entire crew.

food festival phoenix
Photo by Lauren Topor Reichert

A new twist on a popular food festival... 

Devour at Home
February 27 - 28, 2021 
Devour is set to return again for its 12th year. And this go-round, the food fest looks a lot different. There will be no long lines and big festival crowds this time. Instead, you can nosh on craft drinks and incredibly delicious food from the comfort of your couch. The Covid-concious culinary experience called Devour at Home will feature a roster of renowned chefs and award-winning restaurants each day. The Breadfruit & Rum Bar, Cotton & Copper, Sel, Gallo Blanco, The Gladly, The Parlor, and Beckett’s Table are just a handful of the participating restaurants. Each order includes enough food for four people and comes with some nifty Devour swag. And, 100% of the proceeds go directly to the restaurants.

M3F Fest
Photo courtesy of M3F Fest

Socially distanced music fests... 

M3F Fest
March 5 - 6, 2021
From the outset M3F has put the community first. Over the years, this non-profit music fest has donated more than 2.6 million to community charities and has seen a diverse assembly of artists grace its stages including Kid Cudi, The Shins, Gary Clark Jr., and Odesza, to name a few. This year, the show will hopefully go on. While a location and artist lineup have yet to be announced, organizers say they’ll be back again this spring, safely of course. So go ahead and mark your calendars.

Phoenix Lights Fest
April 2 - 3, 2021
Get ready for two nights of electrifying drops and bass-thumping beats, EDM fans. After a couple postponements, Phoenix Lights Fest has landed on a new date. The upcoming multi-day outdoor music fest is bringing out hitmakers like Afrojack, Borgore, NGHTMRE, and Wax Motif. And that’s something to look forward to. Find the latest information here.

Wonderspaces | Photo by Adam Elmakias

Experiencing art around the city...

Wonderspaces Arizona
Recurring through 2021
Inspiring and mind-bending artworks by artists from around the world, all in one place? Enter Wonderspaces; a super-cool immersive art experience, right here in Arizona. This year-round, evolving art show features a rotating lineup of unique works. And we’re excited to see what’s new in the coming year. For now, you can experience Fuji, Experiment 2.C, Plume, and so much more. Get acquainted with the current works here.

Phoenix Art Museum
Recurring through 2021
The Phoenix Art Museum is home to an impressive collection of arts and artifacts. And this year, there will be even more art to enjoy. Upcoming exhibits include Fearless Fashion: Rudi Gernreich, Freedom Must Be Lived: Marion Palfi’s American, 1940-1978, and the special exhibition Oscar Munoz: Invisibilia will be on view later this year. Visitors are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance and all museum-goers must wear face coverings. 

Desert Botanical Garden
January - April, 2021
There’s 140-acres of desert landscape brimming with cactus, succulents, and other desert-dwelling plants to discover at the Desert Botanical Garden. In addition to flora, garden-goers can experience Wind, Water, Earth, a trio of large-scale living sculptures created by Natasha Lisitsa and Daniel Schultz of Waterlily Pond Studio. The exhibition unveils with Wind, this January. Water and Earth will be on view in the coming months. Advance ticket reservations and face masks are required.

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
February - September, 2021
The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art will swing open its doors to the public again this February. Upcoming exhibitions include Ark of Bulrushes, a series of handwoven tapestries and sculptural weavings by Diedrick Brackens and Swap Meet, an artistic practice in varying mediums by Native American artist Brad Kahlhamer. Ongoing exhibitions include Land/s by Gohar Dashti and Janel Garza’s Environ.

Staycations in cool hotels... 

AC Hotel Downtown
February 2021
A 13-story urban-inspired boutique hotel is coming to Downtown Phoenix. The AC Hotel, opening early this year, makes for a primo staycation spot and has all the amenities on your checklist: a lounge that slings craft cocktails, an outdoor patio equipped with cozy fireplaces, and panoramic views of the city. 

Ritz Carlton Paradise Valley
Late 2021
Overlooking iconic Camelback Mountain, this massive 20-acre resort will make its debut later this year. Until then, we’ll be daydreaming about laidback days at the expansive crystal clear pool (one of the longest in the country, in fact), desert-inspired spa treatments, and those leisurely strolls we’ll be taking through the resort’s citrus groves.

A bevy of new restaurants to support... 

Christopher's at Wrigley Mansion
January 2021
The unmistakable Wrigley Mansion recently underwent an extensive renovation. The new updated space will soon debut a new restaurant, Christopher’s. Heralded by James Beard award-winning Chef Christopher Gross, this new concept will offer ample indoor and outdoor seating, a chef-driven tasting menu, and of course, epic scenic views. 

Clever Ramen
Early 2021
Move over, Chipotle. Clever Ramen is bringing a build-your-own ramen joint to the people. And we couldn’t be more stoked. From the creative minds behind Clever Koi, Across the Pond, and Fellow Osteria, Clever Ramen will undoubtedly please the palates of the masses with its punchy umami flavors and array of handmade noodles, including traditional, vegan, and gluten-free ramen and udon. The folks from Clever Ramen will also be slinging bao buns and snacky things like garlic and kimchi cheese fries. And it’s all served in convenient to-go packaging. 

April - June, 2021
This Tucson staple has kept its craveable frozen drinks, subs, and seasoned fries within the boundaries of Southern Arizona for decades. But soon, the uninitiated will be able to slurp on the insanely popular brain freeze-inducing fruity drinks and destroy fistfuls of ranch fries without abandon. Eegees is coming to Phoenix. In a big way, too. The Tucson-based fast-food restaurant will launch at least five locations throughout the Phoenix Metro. Who’s hungry?

Bacanora PHX
Rene Andrade, formerly of South Tempe’s Ghost Ranch, is working on a new concept. And we can’t wait to see what Chef has in store for us. Over the holidays Chef kept our bellies full with handmade tamales. This new endeavor will likely feature bold flavors, and no doubt, chiltepin. Follow Bacanora for updates.

New breweries to patron… 

Roses by the Stairs Brewing
May 2021
A new eco-minded brewery with a zero-waste mission is opening up shop this spring. Roses By The Stairs is the brainchild of engineer-turned-brewer Jordan Ham. The hangout will be equal parts taproom and production room when it opens later this year. And if you’re wondering, yes, the namesake was inspired by a popular Blink-182 track. 

Safe Haven Brewery 
Spring 2021
Father and son duo Gus and Rykert Fowler are bringing more craft beer to Downtown Phoenix. Safe Haven Brewery is currently under construction and will open in the happening Roosevelt Row neighborhood. The brewery will take a sustainable approach to brewing beer at its onsite microbrewery space, which includes diverting spent grains to local farms and greywater reuse. Ahead of their spring opening, grab a pint at Greenwood Brewing or Arizona Wilderness’ Downtown Phoenix beer garden to prime your tastebuds.

Photo courtesy of UnderTow

And bars to hangout in... 

Early 2021
This formerly subterranean bar will soon have new digs inside of the Century Grand building. The move was a result of capacity limitations and other covid-related restrictions. And while we’ll all certainly miss the magic of the original spot we’re looking forward to the extra elbow room, and those crazy good tiki drinks, at the new UnderTow

Sabertooth Astro Bar
Spring 2021
The gang behind So Far So Good at The Churchill and Killer Whale Sex Club are opening a new joint, or joints, depending how you see it. Sabertooth Astro Bar, a two-for-one deal, will squeeze into the space between Downtown Phoenix’s Taco Chelo and Trap Haus BBQ. Sabertooth and AstroBar will be two separate bars, each with their own entrances. The squad from Deez Buns will be taking care of the kitchen menu at Sabertooth, which draws inspiration from Japan’s informal izakaya bars. And Astro Bar will have a tiki-meets-grunge vibe with booze-forward cocktails.

Garden Bar 
Kim Haasarud of Garden Bar has spent the last few months delivering seasonally inspired craft cocktails and grazing boxes to thirsty imbibers. And soon the James Beard award-winning mixologist will debut an in-person garden-to-glass experience. Garden Bar is set to take up residence in a historic bungalow in one of Phoenix’s oldest hoods later this year. While you wait, get your boozy botanical-inspired tinctures delivered, order here

Mezcal is hot, hot, hot. At Barcoa, the agave spirit rules the menu. From hard-to-find tequilas and smoky mezcals, Barcoa will have ‘em all. The spirits-forward avageria will also be complemented by a street-level cantina and a rotating lineup of local taco trucks. Suddenly we’re craving margaritas with salty rims and a big plate of al pastor. 

Don Woods’ Say When
The uber-hip ARRIVE Phoenix, well, arrived in Uptown in 2020. The low-key luxe neighborhood hotel digs are also home to a super-sweet pool bar called Lylo Swim Club and an outpost of Cartel Coffee Lab. Don Woods’ Say When will also open in the hotel this year. The mid-century-inspired penthouse bar will dish out eats like shrimp cocktails and fondue and the drink list will showcase retro-modern libations.

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Lauren Topor Reichert is a Phoenix-based multimedia storyteller, photographer, content creator, and unofficial mezcal taste-tester. Her work has been featured in travel guides, national publications, and the social feeds of some stellar local restaurants. Follow her around Arizona, and beyond, on Instagram @hungryinphoenix.