Gems off the light rail: Going 'round Uptown

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.

The light rail station at 19th Avenue and Camelback Road opens its doors to uptown Phoenix, offering passengers an escape to a variety of culinary options. 

Uptown Plaza is now the new location for Zookz, a sandwich shop that offers uniquely round sandwiches.They may be shaped like Uncrustables, but they taste more like gourmet sandwiches. Each bite was delicious and filling, and meals come with either a salad or chips (as if the sandwich isn't enough).

Its eye-catching yellow walls and open bar windows give the restaurant a modern edge.

The color scheme is incorporated throughout the whole restaurant with muted blue and yellow accents throughout and golden flowers on the porch. The outside of the restaurant might be what turns heads, but the inside offers comfortable and welcoming sitting areas, as well as chic decorations.

The staff were friendly and helpful. I ordered a sandwich with veggies and cheese that came out warm and toasty. 

The sandwiches are created using a round sandwich press, a picture of which is displayed on the walls with the caption “The Contraption.” This nearly medieval contraption is reminiscent of the 1949 Toas-Tite, which was used for this very purpose. It has two long handles and a circular end where the sandwich is pressed and toasted.

The perfect mini π made in a Toas-Tite!Sliced apples, sprinkled with a dash of cinnamon + toasted between two slices of country white bread.

Posted by Toas-Tite on Monday, March 14, 2016

They also offer dessert sandwiches made with the same tool; however, a short five minute walk from Zookz is Churn, a nostalgic ice cream shop that offers toys, candy, ice cream sundaes and floats. It is reminiscent of an old-fashioned candy shop.

At Churn, I got both a German chocolate ice cream cone and a root beer float. The ice cream was thick and creamy — the perfect treat for any chocolate-lover. The sparse nuts included with the ice cream were a crunchy surprise.

The restaurant offers a nice porch section shaded by a tarp, and the red brick walls give a contemporary aesthetic to the area.

The root beer float was made using Sprecher root beer made of fresh Wisconsin honey and brewed in a gas-fired kettle. It has a darker taste than normal root beer and built up a creamy froth when it was poured onto the vanilla ice cream.

Uptown Phoenix offers all types of eats and treats for people of all tastes, whether someone is craving a chilly treat or a warm, hearty meal. 

Reach the reporter at or follow @   NikkiDusanek on Twitter

Like     The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter

Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.