By Sondra Barr
Photos courtesy of Chestnut
In the lively Biltmore Corridor, a unique dining spot beckons. Chestnut, with its new abode at the Biltmore Center, offers more than just a meal – it’s a neighborhood hangout that buzzes with life and flavor. Here, owner Kirsten Steele, a mother and maestro in the kitchen, has stirred up a place that feels less like a restaurant and more like a friend’s fun backyard gathering.
When you wander into Chestnut, it’s like stepping into a scene from a quirky, cozy novel. The place is alive with a vibe that’s both down-to-earth and full of character. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill restaurant; it’s a lively gathering spot where every table seems to be sharing stories and laughter, almost as if they’re competing with the clinking of glasses and the clatter of dishes. The décor, an eclectic blend of whimsy and comfort, features eye-catching bee wallpaper that buzzes against the backdrop of comfortable blue banquettes, a lively bar serving up morning brews, fresh-pressed juices, and evening booze, with round mirrors reflecting the bustling action of it all, thanks to the imaginative flair of Tiffany Mason, a patron turned creator.
Tiff, as the regulars know her, is more than just a fixture at the bar with a book in one hand and a cold brew in the other. She’s the visionary behind Chestnut’s enchanting ambiance punctuated by pops of bright yellow. A designer and general contractor, who’s as skilled with a vision board as she is with a power drill, she transformed Chestnut into what it is today in a mere five weeks. According to Steele, her touch has not only given Chestnut its unique charm but has also woven a fabric of gratitude and community that envelops every guest who steps through the doors. Mason’s contribution is a reminder that sometimes, the heart of a place is not just in its kitchen, but in the hands of those who lovingly craft it from the ground up.
What seems to really set Chestnut apart is its heartbeat – the people. There’s a sense that everyone from the staff to the guests is part of something special. It’s not uncommon to find Steele mingling with guests, sharing stories, or offering recommendations, both inside and on the large front patio that overlooks 24th Street.
Of course, what’s on the menu is vitally important too. Chestnut prides itself on its philosophy of ‘food first.’ The ingredients are high-quality, farm-to-table, and you can taste the difference. The lemon ricotta waffles, with their tangy-sweet blueberry compote, or the Phoenix chopped, a salad that’s a delight mix of flavors and textures, showcase the culinary diversity and creativity at play.
Chestnut’s menu also features tastes sourced from global inspiration, crafted with local ingredients. Steele’s travels and her sister’s culinary adventures played a role in shaping the menu. From the veggie bánh mí, a fusion of French and Vietnamese flavors, to the Southwest quinoa bowl, each dish offers appealing flavor profiles.
After 3 p.m., hearty favorites such as the loaded chicken nachos and Chestnut’s signature half-pound burger standout alongside a flavorful cocktail menu that includes inventive blends like Queen Anne’s Revenge, a mix of overproof rum, mezcal, génépy., lime, star anise syrup, absinthe, and maraschino liqueur, or the Yellow Belly, a combination of bourbon, yellow chartreuse, lemon, honey, and bitters.
Whether you’re looking to hammer out some emails in a quiet corner during business hours, enjoy a casual meal, or reserve the space for a private gathering, Chestnut’s got you covered. The interior is as versatile as it is inviting, making it the go-to for any occasion that necessitates good eats and an inviting ambiance.
Chestnut is located at 2398 E. Camelback Rd., Suite #150, in Phoenix. For more information, visit chestnutaz.com.