Rediscover Arcadia

Stroll and dine in this charming Phoenix neighborhood
Melissa Castleman

Life can feel pretty near perfect on an early-spring day in Arcadia, an up-and-coming neighborhood between Phoenix and Scottsdale. Except for the palm trees, which tower over the 1950s ranch homes neatly lining the streets, things here are on a smaller scale than in the rest of the Valley of the Sun. Leafy orange trees are in bloom, filling the air with an intoxicating scent, but it's sweet fragrances of another sort ― of cakes, pies, and baking bread ― that this spot is becoming known for.

On Saturdays, start your day by sampling crêpes, panini, olives, pastries, and produce at the small but chockablock Camelback Market (9-1 Sat), a farmers' market in front of the venerable restaurant Vincent's on Camelback  ($$$$; lunch Mon-Fri, dinner daily; 3930 E. Camelback Rd.; 602/224-0225). For lunch, duck inside the still-new adjoining Vincent Market Bistro ($; 602/ 224-3727), where the tables number nine and the French chef-owner is James Beard award-winning Vincent Guerithault. For less than $15, you can enjoy his coq au vin or braised short ribs with figs.

The culinary tour continues, but first digest some culture at Shemer Art Center and Museum (closed Sun; free; 5005 E. Camelback; 602/262-4727), 1 1/2 miles east. Built in 1919, this was Arcadia's first house; today it plays host to great Arizona art.

Back near the farmers' market, La Grande Orange Grocery (4410 N. 40th St.; 602/840-7777) is not your typical grocery. This market-cafe dishes up everything from croque monsieur to apple sausage- and shallot-topped pizzas to whimsical, polka-dotted cakes. Order an "itty bitty" cake (ideal for three or four) at the counter, then head for the garden patio, Arcadia's unofficial meeting place.

Those up for shopping can hit Indigo Home (3939 E. Campbell Ave.; 602/955-1254) for chic furniture and home accessories, and at the same address, Petite Chateau (closed Sun; 602/667-3551), with hip baby fashions. Cap off your outing next door at Postino  ($; closed Sun; 602/852-3939), a wine bar that really knows how to do bruschetta, and raise your glass to life's simple pleasures.