When a beloved coffee house on the Bohemian block of Fifth Street closed a few years ago, many of those skeptical of Roosevelt Row’s changing character lamented the event as just another nail in the neighborhood’s coffin. The outcome hasn’t been nearly as dire as forecast, though. Although it looked like the sun had set on coffee culture at this address, it has come up again with the opening of a new place appropriately and simply named “Rise.” Beyond the rebirth metaphor, Rise has a patio facing east and early morning hours, making it a place to see the actual sunrise.
Situated five blocks east of the Roosevelt / Central light rail station in the Evans Churchill neighborhood of Phoenix, Rise is far more than a placeholder or a replacement for a previous tenant. Since its arrival in the spring of 2018, Rise has quickly established itself not just as one of an ever-growing number of central city coffee houses, but also as a casual eatery and gathering place. With a small but efficient kitchen that balances current culinary trends and a few of its own innovative flourishes, Rise maintains a consistent level of quality throughout its menu.
The vintage house Rise occupies has been cleaned up and improved over the years and now has an airy, open feel. There are some picnic tables in the front yard, and a fewer smaller tables on a front porch. Regrettably, the only bike racks are two lonely ones on the opposite side of Fifth Street. Installing some more seems like a good project for Desert Viking, the company which is very slowly renovating multiple buildings on this block of Fifth Street (although not the one occupied by Rise). Inside, customers order at a counter and wait for food to be brought to their tables.
Rise is at its most essential level a coffee house, offering medium roasts for both its drip brew and its espresso drinks. Most of the beverages are familiar with perhaps the most exotic being an appropriately named sunrise, a mix of espresso and orange juice. A selection of teas is also available both iced and hot. Drinks consumed on site are presented in attractive mugs with latte art to match. Pastry occupies a display case at the counter and the changing selections can include yielding raspberry streusel or a rich volcano brownie, both in portions large enough to share or save for later.
With those basic elements of coffee culture readily addressed, Rise focuses on a food menu that is surprisingly substantial, not only in terms of the generous portion sizes, but also in terms of its variety and consistency. Rise’s menu is a hybrid of updated diner and sandwich shop fare with some Latin American and Mediterranean touches. A wraparound chalkboard above the counter gives equal territory to three major sections: breakfast, salads, and sandwiches. The first category is available until 10:30 AM, and the last two begin service half an hour earlier at 10 in the morning.
The morning fare includes breakfast basics such as a big bowl of steel cut oats with berries and an “Ol’ Classic” plate with sourdough toast, eggs, bacon, and breakfast potatoes. Two breakfast burritos begin with a foundation of scrambled eggs. The vegetarian Roosevelt Burro adds avocado, black beans, cheese, potatoes, pico de gallo, and salsa within the tortilla. The meaty Rise Burro combines the same potatoes, cheese, and salsa with bacon and carnitas. The Morning Sammy replaces the tortilla with sourdough slices bookending eggs, bacon, potatoes, and cheese.
Most appreciated on the morning menu are the crepes, something that the prior tenant served (and continues to serve at its new location around the corner). Rise continues the tradition but with its own distinctive touches. There are two sweet varieties: one a fairly traditional preparation with berries and mascarpone whip cream and another with bruleed bananas and roasted pecans. The Spini-Arti-Turkey crepes are savory ones — supple, thin pancakes topped with an abundance of roasted tomatoes and onions in addition to the spinach, artichoke, and turkey in the dish’s name.
After the last crepes are folded, lunch service takes over. The Hummus Antipasti is a Mediterranean-inspired platter full of olives, hummus, and cubes of fried feta paired with a generous arugula salad and an entire separate plate of pita bread. Enormous salads such the Kohlrabi Chopped take not one, but two, trendy vegetables — the namesake knobs and their close cousin kale — and combine them with dried cherries, almonds, and quinoa in a mix that is both healthful and hearty. The AZ Cancha salad derives its name and crunchy texture from South American dried corn.
The sandwiches at Rise each take on a distinctive identity, from the fillings within to the bread used to maintain their structure. The Pavo Press is a turkey panino, its thin slices of bread crisp and slightly charred from the press, and its interior full of roasted turkey, bacon, arugula, and roasted tomatoes. The Rise Burger is a generous patty on a pretzel bun with overflowing toppings of caramelized onions, sauted mushrooms, fontina cheese, and garlic aioli. All sandwiches come with a mix of sweet potato and regular fries on the side, as well as a pickle spear.
A small board on the counter displays additional menu items offered as specials. Recent listings there have included classics such as spaghetti and meatballs and several new vegetarian items making their way to the menu. As Rise lives up to its name by climbing above the culinary horizon, it’s apparent that there’s still room for creativity on Fifth Street. As for the prior tenant, Jobot is doing just fine at a new location less than two blocks from its old home. Just as the sun rises in the east every morning, this corner of the city sees new opportunity, coffee and crepes included.
918 N 5th St., Phoenix AZ 85004
Roosevelt / Central Station