The Stone Korean Tofu House

The stereotype of Korean food in America often involves BBQ, the concept of unlimited quantities of beef cooked at a tabletop grill. It’s a tradition that maps easily to our big appetites for red meat, but it’s far from the totality of Korean cuisine. Korea’s food traditions involve soybeans as much as they do animal protein, and in the Mesa Asian District, the Stone Korean Tofu House devotes itself specifically to a tradition of tofu, not so much as a meat substitute, but instead as an ingredient to be used side-by-side with meats and seafood in complex dishes.

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Nanny’s

It’s not uncommon for restaurants to begin as food trucks, operating with a mobile model before settling into a permanent location. Sometimes, the transition can be as simple as parking the food truck and continuing to use its kitchen to prepare food to be served inside the new restaurant building. Nanny’s, which specializes in fried chicken, French fries, and fish and chips, has followed just that approach with its move from a Laveen-based food truck to a small restaurant on Washington Street, about two blocks from the 12th Street light rail platforms.

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Adams Table

For decades, the wedding cake design of the Hyatt Regency hotel has been part of the city’s central business district and convention center. More recently, the Hyatt brand has been extended more broadly with the mid-priced Hyatt Place concept, including a newly built property just a few blocks away at Second Avenue and Adams Street. With a moderately priced hotel, there is also a need for a more casual restaurant. Adams Table, named for the street named for the nation’s second president, is now filling that role at the new hotel in downtown Phoenix.

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Kahvi

The distance between Finland and Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula is nearly 6,000 miles, and neither place is particularly close to Phoenix. In terms of culture and climate, the three locations are also about as different as possible. That doesn’t stop them all from coming together in the Monorchid building at the north end of downtown Phoenix. Kahvi, a new coffee house named for the Finnish word for “coffee”, brings together a Nordic concept of cafe culture; a tropical theme associated with the beaches of Tulum, Mexico; and the steady development of Roosevelt Row.

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Pedal Haus

Trends in restaurant branding are always changing and seldom boring. Two current ones include associating a business with bicycling and using the German word “haus” to describe a building. Combining the two, Pedal Haus started as a brewery and restaurant in 2015 in the big “haus” of the Centerpoint development in downtown Tempe, an area known for its widespread use of bicycles. Since then, it has expanded to multiple locations, with the latest to open being in the Monorchid building on Roosevelt Row at the north end of downtown Phoenix.

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The Bread and Honey House

On the east side of Phoenix, next to a neighborhood called Delano Estates and in the shadow of the SR143 freeway, there’s a little building on Van Buren that has served for decades as a dining space. It was once a tiny Mexican restaurant, but more recently it has been re-imagined as a breakfast and lunch destination offering a blend of American and Mexican comfort foods. The result is the Bread and Honey House, a small establishment that opened just half a year before the pandemic and has adapted, endured, and expanded over the past few years.

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Morning Squeeze

Anyone who has lived in Phoenix for a while may remember a time when many downtown restaurants were open only on weekdays to serve lunch to nearby office workers. Now, more have embraced dinner service to reflect increased evening activity. In Tempe, those who follow developments on Mill Avenue know that part of town becomes most lively after dark. With rising residential populations in and near the downtowns of both cities, there is now a proliferation of breakfast restaurants situated in urban centers, including the newest one, Morning Squeeze.

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Throne Brewing & Pizza Kitchen

With the current brewery boom, craft beer producers have sprouted in nearly all corners of the  Phoenix Metro Area. After becoming established in their places of origin, a next step for many is to create a presence in or near downtown Phoenix with a taproom or pub. State 48 and Arizona Wilderness have both opened additional locations in the heart of Phoenix, and Pedal Haus will soon follow. Another beermaker, Throne Brewing, has expanded beyond its west side origins by acquiring the old Pizza People Pub, combining the existing food menu with its own beer.

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Tacos Chiwas

Although it’s the largest Mexican state in terms of land area, Chihuahua doesn’t quite touch Arizona. There are about 17 miles of New Mexico that separate the southeastern corner of Arizona from the nearly neighboring state south of the border. For that reason, Sonoran influence is felt more readily in Phoenix. Nevertheless, Chihuahua’s distinctiveness, including its food culture, should not be ignored. Tacos Chiwas, owned and operated by a married pair of restaurant partners with origins in Chihuahua, brings some of those traditions to Arizona.

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12 West Brewing

So many stereotypes about downtown Mesa have begun to fade in recent years. The first is  that the city center does not have worthwhile restaurants at all. That misconception has been invalidated as numerous new arrivals have joined a few long established favorites on Main Street. The second is that because of the Mormon influence in Mesa, it is hard to get a drink there. Anyone still clinging to that notion would be surprised that downtown Mesa is not only home to diverse and lively places to eat, but also a growing number of tap rooms and breweries.

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Vovomeena

For the past decade, the intersection of Seventh Avenue and McDowell in central Phoenix has become a busy restaurant corner with a steady pace of new arrivals. The only problem, aside from the inevitable complaints about parking, is that so many of the newcomers are outposts of national chains, a trait that makes them somewhat unwelcome in the indie-leaning historic districts. One local dining critic even went so far as to describe the scene as a “fast food dump.” Among the franchised burgers and burritos, there is one local player for breakfast: Vovomeena.

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Ingo’s Tasty Food

A decade later than originally planned, an outpost of LGO Hospitality has finally arrived in downtown Phoenix. LGO stands for La Grande Orange, which originated on the east side of Phoenix with its gourmet grocery and pizzeria. A similar operation was planned for the CityScape development when it opened in 2011 but was abandoned at the last minute, ostensibly due to ventilation issues. More than 10 years later, another LGO brand, Ingo’s Tasty Food  has opened across the street from CityScape in the same developer’s Block 23 project.

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