Serafina

It has been a long time since the Luhrs Building and its sibling the Luhrs Tower were the tallest buildings in Phoenix. Nonetheless, the two art deco structures remain icons of the city’s growth and development nearly a century ago.  They’ve suffered the indignity of facing the loading docks and garage entrances of CityScape’s ugly backside, but recent renovations have allowed the buildings, now known jointly as Luhrs City Center, to realize their potential with a refreshed look and new tenants, among them Serafina, a coffee house and roaster. Continue reading “Serafina”

The Dhaba

Looking at Indian restaurants in America, it used to be that the cuisine of south Asia was so exotic that any Indian restaurant would do. As a result, most followed the same format with a generic menu and closed the deal with a lunch buffet. Thankfully, some variety has emerged. There are southern Indian restaurants around town, as well as the occasional chaat shop for snacks. Along Tempe’s Apache Boulevard, The Dhaba serves food from the Punjab region of northern India and explores that specialty in more depth than most local Indian restaurants. Continue reading “The Dhaba”

The Rose and Crown

For one month in the summer every four years, America becomes entranced with the sport it so often relegates to youth leagues. Both die-hard soccer enthusiasts and fair-weather fans gather in public spaces to cheer teams from around the world as the tournament progresses. One of the biggest concentrations of fan assembles at the Rose and Crown, a British pub in heart of Downtown Phoenix’s Heritage Square. The location is a quarter mile from the Third Street / Jefferson (eastbound) and Third Street / Washington (westbound) light rail stations. Continue reading “The Rose and Crown”

Trapp Haus BBQ

Barbecue is one of those foods that doesn’t automatically seem at home in an urban environment. In cities that are known for their barbecue culture, the most celebrated restaurants are sometimes found in outlying locations or industrial areas. Part of the challenge of serving barbecue in the city lies in the smoking. Meat scents that may be enticing at lunch or dinner can become overwhelming to those who live or work near a smoker every single day. Even without strong odors, barbecue’s rural roots can make its aesthetics at odds with a downtown setting. Continue reading “Trapp Haus BBQ”

Haji-Baba

On July 5, 2011, Phoenix was enveloped in a moving wall of dust so monstrous that the news media started using the Arabic word “haboob” to describe it. Since then, the borrowed word has been used, perhaps overused, for describing garden variety dust storms. On Apache Boulevard, another bit of wording from the Middle East, “haji-baba,” long used in literature and movies, is also the name of one of the area’s longest established restaurants. Tempe’s Haji-Baba has endured since the ‘80s in a strip mall a quarter mile east of the Dorsey / Apache light rail station. Continue reading “Haji-Baba”

Alexi’s Grill

Midtown Phoenix, the linear business district defined by 20-story office towers set back from the street with big parking garages, is beginning to change. New residential projects are filling in some of the gaps between the business high-rises, and in a few cases existing businesses and even houses are giving way to new development. Enhancements to pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure continue as part of the Reinvent Phoenix vision. Alexi’s Grill, popular in Midtown for over two decades, seems to stay much the same even as the neighborhood is transformed. Continue reading “Alexi’s Grill”

Shady Park

Whenever a sweet spring turns into scorching summer, residents of the Sonoran Desert always begin to appreciate just how precious shade can be. Local communities have decidedly mixed records in cultivating shade, sometimes leaving master plans unfulfilled for years and relying on engineered shade structures that may be artistic but also less effective than planting more trees. When a place offers genuine shade, then, it’s worth celebrating. Shady Park, a combination of a restaurant and a nightclub in Tempe, calls out its two abundantly shaded patios in its name.

Continue reading “Shady Park”

Hanny’s

Look around any corporate office these days, and the sea of khakis and polos will attest to the move toward business casual attire. That trend, coupled with the rise of chain retailing, has led to the decline of a venerable institution that once existed in almost every major city: the independent menswear shop. This type of store was not only a supplier of the unspoken corporate uniform, but also a multi-generational tradition. The father-son trip to buy a first suit was a rite of passage. Similar traditions emerged for women as they entered the workplace. Continue reading “Hanny’s”

La Tiendita

According to the Migration Policy Institute, there are about a million immigrants from Colombia, along with their children, currently residing in the United States. Most are found on the East Coast, especially in expected strongholds such as New York and Miami, but a few thousand have found their way to Arizona. That’s a relatively small number, but it’s enough to have cultivated at least one Colombian restaurant. La Tiendita, found in a west Mesa strip mall, may have the distinction of being the only outpost of Colombian cuisine in the metropolitan area. Continue reading “La Tiendita”

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