I lived in the Fiesta district of Mesa, Arizona for about a year, and I hated it. Maybe it was the neighborhood, maybe it was the fact that I lived with my psychotic, super-clean sister, but I could not wait to get out of there. There was one area of Mesa that I actually did enjoy, and I suggest that if you visit, take a peek at downtown: specifically, Main Street, from Sirrine/Centennial Way to Robson.
The area is comparable to Mill Avenue in Tempe in that it’s pedestrian friendly and has a lot of restaurants and shops; the difference between the two is that it’s possible to park in downtown Mesa without having to put a fortune of quarters in a meter. I parked on Robson, off Main Street, for two hours without having to pay anything. Not far from where I parked, I found Domestic Bliss, which sold
fantastic gifts for friends of all ages. Domestic Bliss was cozy, and felt more like a home than a store; I strongly recommend you go there for gifts for the friend who has everything, the friend who is expecting or the friend who is hard to shop for – as well as for yourself! Another good place for gifts was Lissa’s, which also already had unique Christmas decorations displayed. I was intrigued by Adorn Style Lounge, but didn’t arrive during open hours – from the window it had some cute dresses and jackets for younger women. I wandered around Blossom Salon and Boutique – an interesting concept; why not get your haircut and then buy a new outfit?
If you don’t need to go shopping, appreciate the statues all over Main Street. There are metal shoes and Indians, as well as animals and Italian chefs. For food, try Sweet Cakes; large chocolate chip, gingersnap, snikerdoodle, chocolate chip pecan and a bunch of other cookies are made from scratch for $1.50. Ok, so that may not qualify as a meal, but Sweet Cakes also has yummy sandwiches and salads. I have an incurable sweet tooth, and ignored the healthy stuff – I tried a cranberry white chocolate cookie (you know, to get my fruit for the day) and it was perfectly chewy and flavorful. I debated ordering a cinnamon roll the size of my face (I’m not over exaggerating)… maybe another day. Queen’s Pizzeria and Café offers two slices of pizza and a 20 oz. drink for $5.95 – interesting pizza slices include the “Vegas” with meatball and gorgonzola as well as the “Lonely Jack” with pepperoni, jalapeno, onion and fresh garlic. If you just want to play, stop by Mystic Paper – which provides scrapbooking materials as well as classes to learn how to make arts and crafts.
Also downtown, Mesa Old West Days set up gun fights, wagons and music. The website says that the expanded community centered event showcases the rich pioneer and territorial history of Mesa, Arizona. In November, Old West Days take place on November 20 and 21. The Mesa Arts Center offers concerts, performances, classes and art exhibitions, but without doing any of that, the building is an art exhibition in itself. There are interesting sculptures throughout, particularly a shield made of blue tiles that move when the wind blows – almost like a sheet.
Take a family, take your time to look around, leave your quarters at home.Follow @ivymorris