Steampunk dining in Phoenix, Arizona? Not likely. Especially if you're dreaming of something as cool as the speakeasy styled Commonwealth in Las Vegas or the renovated power plant The Edison (Ugh! Terrible name! Don't they realize who that monster was?!?!) in Los Angeles. But we do have a few historical buildings which date back to before the turn of not the last century but the one before that. We're talking the 1800's here. And every once in awhile a mad chef gets his hands on one and resurrects the structure as a new eating establishment.
One such restaurant is the Taco Guild, located in the heart of Phoenix on the corner of 7th Street and Osborn. It is a converted and deconsecrated church with the original stained glass mural windows still intact. Constructed in 1893, it began its architectural life as a one-room schoolhouse, the Osborn School, and then became Smith's Chapel, named for its builders Mister and Misses George and Edna Smith. A year later they changed the name to Bethel Methodist Church, honoring Misses Smith's home church in Illinois. It retained the name until 2012 when it was finally vacated and deconstructed.
As their name would suggest, the staple of their menu is tacos, but with some great new takes on a bland standard and made with local, organic farm fresh ingredients. They also serve various salads and a few other selections of Mexican cuisine including a brunch menu with breakfast burritos and veggie omelets. But arguably the most important feature of the restaurant is the full bar. From Patrón to PBR and what they call Tequila Academia, learning to speak the language of tequila.
But a new religious faction has overtaken the Guild! A secret cabal (okay, a group of local authors, but how much can you trust someone who lives in their head and spends all day fabricating their own realities) known as the Holy Taco Church can be found holding their dark rituals, usually with extra hot sauce. Local steampunk author Beth Cato (The Clockwork Dagger, The Clockwork Crown, etc) is their High Priestess of Churromancy. Maybe you can become her tacolyte and learn her sugary secrets.
And for all your steampunk thrifting needs, located right next door to the Taco Guild is the Buffalo Exchange where you can buy, sell, or trade clothing, footwear, jewelry and other accessories. I found a very odd pair of ladies boots, Neo-Victorian in the worst way possible. The tops are knee-length Victorian styled boots (maybe they're supposed to represent tube socks) while the base I thought was faux spats is running shoes?!?! The impracticality is astounding. Made by Nike, of course. So, I guess they would be Victorian running boots. Stupid Nike. I cannot find another pair in Google image search, so I have no idea what sport of athletic activity these would be for. Ah, the joys of thrifting.
The two stores share a parking lot. But it is rather small and usually full during peak hours for the restaurant. But there is plenty of parking in the adjoining neighborhood. You'll just have to walk a bit in the 115 degree heat. Valley of the Sun indeed.