Speedy Street Tacos

Street tacos have become a trend in recent years, even when the tacos are served in a distinctly non-street environment with a higher-than-street price. While it’s no longer uncommon to see tiny tacos at a fast food chain or a trendy restaurant, it’s refreshing when a place stays closer to the informal origins of the street taco concept. Speedy Street Tacos is as casual as can be imagined, but its simple menu of chicken and beef tacos, along with burritos and quesadillas, is satisfying. Even better, it’s one of the few non-chain taquerias open 24/7. Continue reading “Speedy Street Tacos”

Raspados el Boly

If there’s a dessert with a global reach, it might just be ice cream and its many variants of frozen treats. While the classic American ice cream shop still has its place, cultures from around the world have added their own influences and interpretations, and many of those are now found in local shops and restaurants. In central Mesa, just a block east of the Mesa Drive / Main Street light rail station, Raspados el Boly sells frozen desserts, savory snacks, and even a few items large enough to qualify as meals — all based on Mexican and Latin American traditions. Continue reading “Raspados el Boly”

Royal Coffee Bar


There’s long been a connection between coffee and architecture. Architects are stereotyped as drinking a lot of the brew, some of the best coffee houses are found in interesting spaces. Royal Coffee Bar benefits from being founded by an architect, and a sense of good design pervades the shop’s locations, including its sites at Heritage Square in Downtown Phoenix and on College Avenue in Downtown Tempe. Both locations serve Royal’s own coffee, roasted in house at Heritage Square, along with teas and a daily selection of pastries from local purveyors. Continue reading “Royal Coffee Bar”

Tommy Pastrami

Pity the poor deli. It seems to be in decline with even New York’s venerable Carnegie recently closing. While Phoenix’s restaurant offerings have become generally become more diverse over the past decade, traditional delis have declined here as well. One has closed only to be reborn as a tavern; others have gone out of business entirely. While chain sandwich shops and independent tacos places are sprouting Downtown, one place, Tommy Pastrami, is keeping the flame alive in terms of traditional sandwiches made with ingredients like rye bread and pastrami. Continue reading “Tommy Pastrami”

Deli Tavern

It’s fashionable for restaurants to call themselves “bistros,” “cafes,” or “gastropubs,” even if they bear little resemblance to the traditional meanings of those words. Less trendy but perhaps just as important, a city benefits from having its share of taverns — straightforward, unpretentious establishments for food and drink, only subtly differentiated from the concept of a pub. In the core of Downtown Phoenix, one new restaurant plays the name game not only by identifying itself as “Deli Tavern,” but also retaining the prior tenant’s “Downtown Deli” sign on the facade. Continue reading “Deli Tavern”

Songbird Coffee & Tea House

As the show “Portlandia” wraps up its final season, fans will inevitably look back on favorite moments during the program’s eight-year run. One top contender is likely to be the “Put a Bird on it” sketch in which characters Bryce and Lisa decorate every item imaginable with an avian theme. In the Evans Churchill neighborhood of Phoenix, Songbird Coffee & Tea House has put a bird on the concept of the local coffee house. Differentiating itself while living up to its full name, Songbird puts as much emphasis on tea as it does on coffee and espresso drinks. Continue reading “Songbird Coffee & Tea House”

Joe’s Philly Steak & More

It’s been less than a week since just over 100 million viewers saw the Philadelphia Eagles win their first Super Bowl. In the City of Brotherly Love, that victory was met with a mix of civic pride, a celebratory parade, and, unfortunately, some rioting and looting. On the other side of the country, distant from both teams involved, a celebration can be as simple as enjoying a signature Philadelphia food, the cheesesteak. On the north side of central Phoenix, Joe’s Philly Steak & More offers a simple venue for a classic sandwich no matter who is winning what sport. Continue reading “Joe’s Philly Steak & More”

Short Leash Hot Dogs & Rollover Doughnuts

One of the most desirable urban amenities right now seems to be dog parks. Hance Park’s canine area is popular, and several development proposals in and around central Phoenix have included dog parks in their preliminary renderings. Even those who don’t particularly care for dogs can endorse a defined zone for canine recreation if it makes dogs more likely to be kept on their leashes in other locations. On Roosevelt Row in Downtown Phoenix, Short Leash maintains a haven for a different type of dog, the hot dog, and its dessert companion, Rollover Doughnuts. Continue reading “Short Leash Hot Dogs & Rollover Doughnuts”

Pizza People Pub

With the current building boom, some corners in Phoenix are seeing a new wave of change after decades of inactivity. The area around Central and McDowell, long defined by the the Phoenix Art Museum and the Burton Barr Central Library, is now home to new apartments filling long-vacant lots. With all that change, businesses have come and gone. One neighborhood restaurant, Pizza People Pub, has done both within the same year — briefly closing and then reopening shortly after under new ownership but with essentially the same menu. Continue reading “Pizza People Pub”

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