PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Downtown Phoenix is on full display as you step out onto the terrace of From The Rooftop at the Cambria Hotel on 3rd Street just south of I-10 in the Roosevelt Row district. Whether it be at night, mid-day, or during the Golden Hour itself, the Phoenix skyline provides the perfect backdrop for taking photos, date night, or some rest and relaxation from the world below. The views, music, atmosphere, and courteous staff represent what the Cambria and Roosevelt Row are all about; a fun place to be in an area welcome to all.
No rooftop lounge would be complete; however, without something delicious and upscale to snack on, and that’s what really brings this rooftop lounge together — individually crafted dishes made from scratch and being served up by Executive Chef and Rooftop Manager Miguel Rueda. Rueda got his start in the Phoenix culinary scene as a dishwasher for Fox Restaurant Concepts before getting a shot to jump on the food line.
“The intensity was euphoric; every day is game day when you’re a line cook. To gain knowledge quickly, I studied my colleagues on the line to learn their tricks and techniques. In my eyes, the more I knew, the more valuable I was to the company. My theory was proven correct when I was promoted through the ranks then asked to open a number of restaurants with Fox Restaurant Concepts,” Rueda said.
Eventually, Rueda’s craving to challenge himself in the kitchen led him to work directly with Chef Michael Rusconi at Rusconi’s American Kitchen, where Rueda continued to hone his craft for several more years. The time came for Rueda to leave and take the helm of his own kitchen, which led him to the Cambria Hotel. The hotel opened From The Rooftop near the end of November in 2020 but was only serving alcohol at first. Following their New Year’s Eve bash, Rueda was given the reins to fire up the kitchen, where his goal was to provide a one-of-a-kind handcrafted menu.
“I wanted to create a casual eating experience with a fine-dining approach. Essentially our guests would step onto the rooftop and find an experience that they would truly not find anywhere else. Our view is one of a kind, and I know that our menu reflects just that,” Rueda said.
The hotel’s Director of Sales and Marketing, Rich Cerino, says Rueda’s history within the Phoenix culinary landscape is what helps shape such a simple and elevated menu.
“Everything he does is from scratch; it’s a scratch kitchen which is fantastic. So, the Arizona Tacos, the mini nachos, the sliders, the truffle fries, everything he does is from scratch. He peels the potatoes, cuts them all up, and makes everything each day for the day of service,” Cerino said.
With the rising popularity of rooftops over the past several years, it’s fitting they start popping up in the Valley of the sun. With COVID-19 metrics trending down and more people getting vaccinated, people are eager to get out and move toward a sense of normalcy again. Thanks to our wonderful weather, save for maybe the scorching summer months, Arizonans have the luxury of enjoying time out and about around our scenic metro-area, which is what From The Rooftop strives to provide.
“It’s the views, it’s the experience, being able to see the surrounding mountains, Camelback, Piestewa Peak, South Mountain, plus the downtown landscape, which is always amazing,” Cerino said. “If you’re looking for a place to just come and relax and get some great views with an elevated bar experience, come and visit because you’re not going to be disappointed.”
Although From The Rooftop is still in its early days since launching, Rueda already has plans to continue experimenting in the kitchen and provide new creations for guests.
“As far as developing new ideas, I am always working to push the limits of changing the perception of what “bar bites” are known as. You can expect seasonal menu changes from us throughout the year,” Rueda said. “We are working on a lot of great things for From The Rooftop. Summer is around the corner, so we have to be creative as to how we are going to stay cool on the rooftop during these extreme conditions. One thing to look forward to is I am working with Heartbreak Creamery to produce Boozy Sorbets! I have also been working diligently to take the Arizona Taco to another level by creating variations of doughs including cilantro infused, curry infused & even squid ink infused dough to rotate through seasonally.”
FROM THE ROOFTOP WALKTHROUGH
The 360-degree view from the rooftop provides excellent opportunities for photos and selfies. Shaded lounge couches and chairs are great spots to relax and catch up with friends, and the modest pool is a quaint spot to lay out to catch some rays or cool down. Whatever floats your boat, the must-try experience at From The Rooftop is… (you guessed it) the food!
Among the many tantalizing menu options whipped up by Rueda, most bases are covered when it comes to either a light snack, a hearty quick bite, or a nice spread for all to enjoy. For weekends from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., there’s even a brunch menu to captivate those craving something sweet and savory to pair with a mimosa.
Right out the gate, I must strongly recommend Rueda’s Arizona Tacos. These tacos symbolize a piece of Rueda’s childhood joys on a plate and are his homage to Arizona and the cultures that make up our state. Rueda makes the Guajillo-infused fry bread from scratch with two dozen ingredients every morning as the shell and traditional chicken tinga as the meaty filling. The bread alone has outstanding flavor while maintaining a nice soft, airy composition. The meat has a nice lingering medium-heat with outstanding flavor and tenderness to the chicken. Believe it or not, this dish is comprised of 4 dozen ingredients overall, and it works in every way possible.
The tasty tinga sauce is also used to dress the fried mac n cheese, which features a unique blend of cheeses, including a gooey blend of smoked gouda and smoked white cheddar interior with the noodles and a slice of melted muenster on top. The burger sliders are seared smashburger style with a juicy brisket blended patty and ‘secret sauce’ to round out the hearty mini burgers. The truffle fries make for a delicious light snack (and for those cheese enthusiasts!). The fries are freshly peeled the day of, served with a great sauce, and Rueda drowns them with a truffle zest to keep the cheese fresh and included in every bite.
And for those brunch-goers! The stuffed French toast are exquisite, sweet quick bites that are filling and rejuvenating. The filling is a creamy honey mascarpone with fresh slices of strawberries and blueberries whipped in and served between two French toast-style brioche buns. Drizzle on the syrup, and you got one sweet treat! Another truly unique and charming dish is the chicken and waffle sliders. Another one of my favorites due to the ingenious spin Rueda put on this classic and hearty breakfast dish. Rueda encases the crispy chicken with a honey butter syrup that is sweet and has a consistency that spares the lightly toasted waffle buns from getting soggy. The waffles themselves remain fluffy on the interior, allowing for an easy, full bite to get a little bit of everything.
If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, the breakfast sliders are another excellent choice. Nice and simple, and worth trying for the savory bacon and excellent hollandaise sauce for the finishing touch. If you’re out with a group of people, the brunch board makes an excellent pairing for those morning adult beverages. The brunch board features pancake bites, a seasonal fruit spread, bourbon maple, candied bacon, mini waffles, artisan cheeses, crostini, and candied assorted nuts.
From The Rooftop sets a great vibe all around when it comes to views, atmosphere, solid drinks, absolutely stellar food, and an environment that resonates with the Roosevelt Row community. Rueda has truly found his calling and signatures when it comes to the dishes he creates with such devotion and precision with every ingredient. The Cambria itself has certainly curated a welcoming and fun atmosphere with the rooftop, and not only fits in with the culture and pulse of Roosevelt Row but establishes itself as a place worth stopping by to kick the feet up for a drink and a bite to eat. Cerino and Rueda have plans to expand operation hours, and with warmer weather on the way, it’s time to get out and enjoy the sun and some great food!
This is the first segment in a series on rooftop lounges in the Phoenix metro. Arizona’s Family Foodie is breaking out the sunscreen to check out eateries that serve up snacks and modest entrees for those seeking rest and relaxation from atop scenic rooftops. Rooftops often keep their menus small and simple, allowing kitchens to get creative and serve up unique foods to make experiences memorable. So, kick back, come hungry, and let’s enjoy some food with a view!