Gems off the light rail: Rustic and retro dining in downtown Phoenix

Uncover hidden gems all over the city with reporter Nicole Dusanek as she gets off at a different light rail stop each week to explore.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and there is no better way to start off the morning than by enjoying it in a one-of-a-kind rustic cafe between the light rail stops at Campbell and Camelback on Central Avenue.

As I approached Fáme Caffe, I was welcomed by the lively chatter coming from open windows, the restaurant door and the people seated in the patio. Usually crowds this size tend to scare me away, but this time I was excited by the fact that so many people were enjoying their meals.

In Italian, "fáme" means hunger, which was the perfect way to describe the state of my stomach by the time I approached the line that was almost out the door. Luckily, the staff was as quick as they were friendly and the line moved quickly.

Fáme has self-seating and while waiting for the meal, I took a look around and was stunned by the attention to detail. Nothing in the cafe was accidental. From old milk glasses holding leafy plants as table toppers, to the egg cartons that covered the ceiling, the rustic atmosphere was most achieved with eloquence.

The main lighting fixture that hung from the center of the room was a collection of dangling lightbulbs wrapped around an old railroad trestle.

The chalkboard menu posted behind the table offered breakfast, brunch and lunch, as well as a broad range of drinks, including freshly squeezed juice. The prices were very affordable, which is always a deciding factor in where this broke college student dines. I ordered a breakfast sandwich for $6.50, and I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived on a bun that was light and fluffy — reminding me of a croissant.

Despite the crowds of people, the meal was served relatively fast and tasted fresh and delicious. Once I finished eating, Twirl caught my eye while I was walking back toward the light rail. Twirl is a frozen yogurt place that stood out from the rest with its retro design.

Walking in, the first thing I noticed was the seating area to my right that reminded me of something you might see in a '60s sitcom. Next to the bulky couch was a TV that was only showing static and had two antennas sticking up. One corner was decorated with a mod-style lamp with a cylindrical shade that fit the throwback-vibe. 

I filled my bowl with chocolate gelato yogurt and had some fun with the topping section. I took a seat by the window and watched the cars drive by as I enjoyed my dessert. Two cups of yogurt filled to the top only came out to about six dollars — a college-friendly price.

Both of these restaurants offer a fun, cheery dining experience within a block from one another, making this diverse area worth exploring.

Related Links:

Gems off the light rail: A taste of India at the Dhaba

Gems off the light rail: Bargain buys at the Park 'n' Swap

Reach the reporter at or follow @ NikkiDusanek on Twitter

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