Grilled Ave Teriyaki House

IIn most cities, the term “avenue” implies a broad arterial street. In the Phoenix Metropolitan Area, any street west of Central Avenue can be a numbered avenue, and even on the east side of town, “avenue” is a term used more liberally than in many other places. In Tempe, Forest Avenue has a brief three-block span between the Tempe Transportation Center and Arizona State University, but that short length is packed with dense development and diverse dining options. One restaurant, Grilled Ave Teriyaki House, even incorporates the idea of an avenue into its name.

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PT Noodles

Follow the light rail tracks west along Camelback Road from Central to 19th Avenue, and a rapid transition occurs. Uptown, the area centered around Central and Camelback is predominantly white and a magnet for upscale businesses, both local and national. 19th Avenue is a multi-ethnic corridor with some of the best bargains to be found in local dining. The area in between is transitional, and one restaurant located there, PT Noodles, seems to fit well in that zone with an approach halfway between Americanized familiarity and Vietnamese authenticity.

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Pepe’s Taco Villa

From gringo-safe chains to hole-in-the wall taquerias, the streets of Phoenix are lined with Mexican restaurants — except much of that food had traditionally been more “border” than “south of the border.” In other words, many local favorites serve Sonoran food, associated with Arizona and the Mexican state of Sonora directly below it on the map. In recent years, migrations from other regions of Mexico have diversified the food choices in Phoenix, but it’s important not to forget restaurants that offered Mexican beyond Sonoran long before it was fashionable to do so. Continue reading “Pepe’s Taco Villa”

Provecho

Whether it’s “bon appetit” in France or “guten appetit” in Germany, many cultures have familiar expressions that can be used to start a meal. In Mexico, “buen provecho” fulfills that function. Strangely, there seems to be no equivalent phrase in English, but the increasing diversification of downtown Phoenix’s food options, particularly the recent and long-overdue proliferation of Mexican restaurants that are far less Americanized than in previous decades, provides plenty of opportunity to say the phrase. One restaurant, Provecho, goes so far as to incorporate the wording into its name. Continue reading “Provecho”

Rula Bula

On Mill Avenue, so many businesses have come and gone in recent years that an Irish pub nearly two decades old now seems like a veteran of that street’s fast-changing landscape of dining and nightlife. Of course, 20 years or so is nothing compared to the age of many pubs actually located in Ireland, and it’s also a short time compared to the age of the historic Andre building, where the pub in question, Rula Bula, occupies two side-by-side storefronts just a block south of the Mill Avenue / Third Street light rail station in the heart of Downtown Tempe. Continue reading “Rula Bula”

Breadwinner

With today’s confusing array of popular diets — paleo this, keto that, and gluten-free everything — it’s refreshing to see that good bread can still be the foundation of a meal. It’s equally invigorating to see an independent sandwich shop open amid all the national chains that have recently occupied that segment of the market. Breadwinner scores victories in both respects, building its sandwiches with the unabashedly glutenous products of local bakery Noble Bread and drawing inspiration from the kitchen of its full-service cousin, EVO in Scottsdale. Continue reading “Breadwinner”

Pho Nhat

The unassuming Tempe Towne Plaza shopping center has long been home to restaurants serving foods from all over the globe. Indian, Somali, pizza — all those cuisines and more are crammed into this strip mall, which is just a block north of the University / Rural light rail station. The Vietnamese food niche here is filled by Pho Nhat, or maybe it’s just Nhat, given that the word “Pho” is part of the restaurant’s name on the menus but not on the outside sign. Let’s just call it (Pho) Nhat and acknowledge that its speciality is indeed pho, the rice noodle soup of Hanoi. Continue reading “Pho Nhat”

The Larry

Phoenix’s Warehouse District, located just south of downtown, has become something of a mini tech hub in recent years. With companies like WebPT occupying the vintage buildings found south of both the light rail and the Union Pacific freight railroad tracks, the area has received national media coverage and increased attention from the city’s economic development department. Where there are tech companies, there’s a need for places to eat and gather. It’s not uncommon to see food trucks parked outside certain buildings, but until recently, there have been few established eateries. Continue reading “The Larry”

The Munchies Cafe

With medical marijuana dispensaries continuing to proliferate, a restaurant called “the Munchies” might sound like a place dedicated to a certain “herb.” Actually, the name is more a reference to a late closing time (3:00 AM every day) than any controlled substance, and the Munchies Cafe is a straightforward Middle Eastern and Greek quick service restaurant in the heart of Downtown Tempe. Look for the Munchies on the short cul-de-sac of Sixth Street that extends east from Mill Avenue, three blocks south of the Mill Avenue / Third Street light rail station. Continue reading “The Munchies Cafe”

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