Although it's tucked away in a mostly residential neighborhood, once you find The Clarendon Hotel, it's hard to resist the property's mid-century modern style and hospitality.
And the Hotel Clarendon is blooming once more with a new restaurant – Cafe Tranquilo – as well an updated rooftop patio space.
Phoenix's Clarendon Hotel is home to the new Cafe Tranquilo, where the kitchen makes a mean mole — Photo courtesy of Cafe Tranquilo / The Clarendon Hotel
From it's white-washed exterior with bright blue pinstripe lines to its sunny, artfully chic lobby, the hotel is a case study of the possibilities of urban renewal.
The hotel once lay in waste after decades of neglect, until it was brought back to life by current Owner and General Manager Ben Bethel in 2003. These days, the hotel attracts everyone from celebrities to far-flung travelers looking for a taste of the local Phoenix scene.
The new Cafe Tranquilo replaces the popular Gallo Blanco Cafe, but it continues the space's culinary personality, with a strong emphasis on fresh and creative modern Mexican cuisine.
Acclaimed local chef Dan Maldonado presides over the kitchen at Tranquilo, which is located adjacent to the hotel lobby. The cafe is open daily from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m., with a special late-night dinner menu in the works for hungry night owls.
For breakfast (which is served all day), the cafe now features gourmet coffee from nearby Lux Coffeebar. Popular breakfast staples include the chorizo con huevos (scrambled eggs served with chorizo), but there's also lighter fare like the fruta con crema y granola (seasonal fruit served with fresh cream and granola).
More hearty offerings include the ribeye and eggs, as well as the "Gringo Breakfast," which comes with two eggs; breakfast potatoes; toast; and your choice of bacon, ham or sausage.
For lunch or dinner, try one of the cafe's specialties, like the savory pollo asado con mole negro. The grilled chicken breasts are smothered in the kitchen's savory dark mole sauce.
Another unique item is the pork enmolada, a mole-based variation on enchiladas. Two corn tortillas are stuffed with shredded pork and oaxaca cheese, then topped with the dark, rich mole and served with a side of seasonal veggies.
The Clarendon has also given its popular rooftop bar – now officially known as El Techo ("the rooftop," in Spanish) – a makeover. Guests can enjoy leisurely nights among colorful new furnishings and lighting.
The rooftop patio is open to the public from 4 p.m. to 10 or 11 p.m. (depending on nightly crowds). Guests can enjoy cool cocktails and live music three nights a week, plus stunning views of downtown Phoenix.