The simple stoop, a set of steps in front of a row house that can act as a place for impromptu scenes of street life, is a rarity in Phoenix. The most obvious reason is that the city has few row houses to occupy a middle ground between apartment buildings and single family homes. In the absence of that type of architecture, the concept of a stoop can still serve as a symbol for city life. At the Churchill, an outdoor food court and bar built with shipping containers in downtown Phoenix, a tenant called “Stoop Kid” is all about bagels and burgers with an urban vibe.
Stoop Kid takes its name from a character in the “Hey Arnold!” animated series. The cartoon Stoop Kid never left his stoop, and the Stoop Kid at the Churchill also occupies a small space with just a counter and a compact kitchen housed within two converted cargo containers. As with every tenant here, customers order at the counter and then find a seat in the communal dining area shared by all the food stalls. The menu, written in a font meant to look like vintage New York subway graffiti, appears on boards just outside the window where orders are taken.
Stoop Kid’s morning menu focuses on bagels supplied by local baker Bagelfeld, which has established a following at local farmers markets while working on its own retail outpost. These bagels are appropriately chewy but crisp nicely when gently toasted. They’re offered at Stoop Kid in flavors like asiago cheese, fennel raisin, jalapeño cheddar, and the ubiquitous everything variety. The bagels can be ordered toasted with plain butter or topped with cream cheese “shmears” in flavors such as red pepper romesco, parmesan scallion, and spicy bacon jam.
For a more complex breakfast sandwich, Stoop Kid offers three options with names as colorful as their contents. The Yam and Cheese begins with red pepper romesco spread and adds fillings of yam planks, alfalfa sprouts, sliced tomato, cucumber, and avocado on a plain bagel. The Money Shot combines spicy bacon jam with cheddar, tomato, scrambled egg, and a hash cake on an asiago bagel. The same bagel base is used for the Egg Thee Scallion with fillings of soft egg, ham, gruyere cheese in a mornay sauce, and the scallion and parmesan spread.
By the time noon arrives, Stoop Kid shifts to a lunch and dinner menu of burgers and side. Surprisingly, these burgers are not served with bagels as buns, as tantalizing as that idea might sound. Instead, the patties are griddle and placed between two halves of a brioche roll that works well for soaking up their juices and condiments. The Stoop burger is two patties with cheddar, onion, pickles, and Dijonaise. The Pobrecito is a similar creation but with American cheese, ketchup, and mustard replacing some of the condiments on the namesake burger.
A meatless alternative is the Cheese Wiz, not an orange goo for cheesesteaks or nachos, but instead an inventive grilled cheese made with an inside-out brioche bun. Caramelized onions and tomato add extra dimensions of flavor to this otherwise simple sandwich. A spicy burger loaded with umami and heat and described as tasting like a bowl of drunken noodles has been an occasional special that one can only hope will become an addition to the regular menu, which has evolved at a slow and deliberate pace during the business’ first year of operation.
With any of the burgers or the grilled cheese sandwich, sides to be ordered a la carte include house-made chips or plantains, semi-sweet slices of green banana, served either on their own or as the base of “dirty plantains” in which the fruit is augmented with bits of fried cheese, romesco sauce, and abundant sprigs of fresh cilantro. Stoop Kid initially billed itself as a place for bagels and coffee, rather than bagels and burgers. It took a while to add the latter half of that original description, but there is now a range of coffee and espresso drinks available.
Other beverages include bottled or canned sodas, including locally produced Blue Marble ginger beer, a spicy, tingly creation from the owners of the Breadfruit Jamaican restaurant. The Brill Line bar is one container over for anyone who wishes to pair a burger with a beer or a cocktail. Desserts are available within the Churchill at Foxy Fruit or next door at the Futuro coffee house. The Stoop Kid in “Hey Arnold!” stayed on his own stoop, but without stoops of their own, Phoenicians can come to the Churchill for their own stoop experience with bagels and burgers.
901 N. 1st St. #107, Phoenix AZ 85004