PHX Rail Food

A guide to good eating along the light rail line that connects Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa


The Collier Center might be considered the middle child of big mixed use projects in Downtown Phoenix. It came along just over a decade after the Arizona Center, and about the same length of time before CityScape. As with human middle children, the development is sometimes overlooked and its best attributes hidden. The Collier Center’s prime restaurant space is located off the street on the second floor. If that architectural decision seems a mistake, it’s encouraging the obscure location is now occupied by Mancuso’s, a restaurant with prior experience at another hidden site. Continue reading “Mancuso’s”

Mekong Palace

Mekong Plaza, the shopping center in west Mesa that caters to shoppers of east Asian heritage, as well as the adventurous of all ethnicities, is so many things at once: a collection of restaurants and food vendor talls, a supermarket and specialty food shops, and a place to get one’s hair cut or nails done. It’s no surprise then that one of its namesake tenants, Mekong Palace, is three (or more restaurants) in one. Located at the north end of the building just beyond the food court, Mekong Palace has several distinct ways for customers to approach its mostly Cantonese food. Continue reading “Mekong Palace”

Fàme Caffe

In Phoenix, it has never been entirely clear where Midtown ends and Uptown begins. Some might say Indian School Road, where current high-rise development stops, is the boundary. Others could argue the Grand Canal is a more logical divider between the two areas. With both the Midtown and Uptown terms now being stretched beyond historic boundaries, geography buffs can continue to debate the first question. Meanwhile, a restaurant in the gray area between the two zones raises a question of more interest to diners: When does breakfast end and lunch begin? Continue reading “Fàme Caffe”

Mornin’ Moonshine

111 West Monroe is a modest mid-century office building at the corner of First Avenue and Monroe Street in Downtown Phoenix. In past decades, it could have been easily overlooked, but the mid-rise tower has recently become a bit of a hipster hotspot with an eclectic array of new tenants. Among the new arrivals are a regional office for a popular taxi-in-all-but-name company, a store catering to music aficionados who appreciate vinyl and vacuum tubes, a boutique wine shop full of bottles from lesser known vintners, and, unsurprisingly, a coffee house. Continue reading “Mornin’ Moonshine”

Oliver’s Sophisticated Bean

It was three years ago that the Roosevelt Point apartment complex opened at the north end of Downtown Phoenix. The two buildings, occupied primarily by students, are not architectural gems, but they were an important first step in a current wave of residential development in and around Roosevelt Row. While the dwelling units in the upper floors filled quickly, it has taken until 2016 for most of the ground-floor retail space to reach occupancy. The dirt floors and empty storefronts have now yielded to newly arrived commercial tenants like Oliver’s Sophisticated Bean (OSB). Continue reading “Oliver’s Sophisticated Bean”

Nook Kitchen

For one historic building in Downtown Phoenix, it has taken over a decade to arrive at happy ending. The Professional Building, formerly the headquarters of Valley National Bank and home to several floors of medical offices, languished for years in a state of disrepair without tenants or a clear future. After a false start derailed by the collapse of Mortgages Ltd., the 12-story Art Deco tower has finally been reborn as a Hilton Garden Inn hotel, and its ground-floor restaurant on the corner of Monroe and Central Avenue is known as Nook Kitchen, or just Nook for short. Continue reading “Nook Kitchen”

Cucina Cucina

According to the new owners of the Arizona Center, the Downtown Phoenix development, now just over a quarter century old, is about to experience a major transformation. Undeveloped pads will become home to new office towers, the complex’s street presence will be improved, and a combination of white and gray will be the new beige. Thankfully, the plans include no significant alterations to some of the Arizona Center’s existing strengths: its shaded gardens, its cooling water features, and the two prime restaurant spaces that overlook those amenities. Continue reading “Cucina Cucina”

Cornish Pasty Company (Mill Avenue)

When big initiatives get bogged down in corporate project queues, sometimes an organization will look for a “quick win” to maintain momentum and boost morale. It’s hard to say if such a businesslike motivation was at work, but the Cornish Pasty Company (CPC), which is in a slow expansion process, recently scored a quick win with the rapid opening of a new scaled-down location in Downtown Tempe. The new mini-CPC is located just two blocks south of the Mill Avenue / Third Street light rail station on a section of Mill with bike racks on every block. Continue reading “Cornish Pasty Company (Mill Avenue)”


As new construction blossoms in Downtown Phoenix after years of delays, one of the details debated about various projects is the role of ground floor retail. Having shops or restaurants located below residences promotes a variety of uses in the pursuit of urban vitality. At the same time, adding more space than the market can bear can lead to the blight of empty storefronts. As recently as a decade ago, however, Phoenix wasn’t having this discussion because there was so little new construction that old houses were often the only space available for new businesses. Continue reading “Cibo”


The last year has been full of change at one of Downtown Phoenix’s major hotels, the Sheraton at Third Street and Van Buren. First, the hotel was re-branded from just a plain “Sheraton” to the more upscale “Sheraton Grand.” More importantly, the hotel was sold by the City of Phoenix, which opened it in 2008 in an attempt to jump-start business at the nearby convention center, to a group of private investors. It was wise for the city to exit the lodging business, and the name change is flattering. The on-property restaurant, though, is one part of the hotel that already works just as it is. Continue reading “District”

Lola Coffee

With so much new development occurring along Roosevelt Row, it’s nice to be reminded of the value of long-standing buildings that have somehow survived decades of neglect and the demolition of their neighbors. One of those is the Gold Spot, officially known when it opened in 1925 as the Gold Spot Marketing Center. This building, originally used as a grocery and shopping center in what was then considered a far-flung suburb, now functions as space for neighborhood businesses, including something that nearly every neighborhood needs: a coffee house. Continue reading “Lola Coffee”

Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Cafe

Just east of Downtown, between Heritage Square and Eastlake Park, lies a changing area of Phoenix. Part of the Azteca Plaza shopping center has been demolished, and several new apartment buildings are under construction or recently completed. Amid these developments, there are some aspects of the neighborhood that remain much the same as they have been for decades. Two historic churches, Immaculate Heart and Tanner Chapel AME, are landmarks in the area, and in between them lies Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Cafe, a half-century-old restaurant. Continue reading “Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Cafe”

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