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”
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”
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”
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.
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”
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”
Downtown Mesa has become a center for public art in recent years. The blocks on and around Main Street have been occupied at various times by colorful pianos for anyone to play, DIY prototypes on a large scale, giant inflatable figures in prominent places, and recurring art festivals. With all that art around, it’s helpful to have a place to eat, especially one with a central location and sidewalk patio. While a few new restaurants have arrived to offer expanded choices, one of Mesa’s downtown diehards continues to be Mango’s Mexican Cafe.
With so many new breweries and tap houses emerging throughout Downtown Phoenix and adjacent neighborhoods, it’s hard to believe it was once hard to find a wide selection of craft beer in the center of the city. Nevertheless, that was the case as recently as 2012 when Angels Trumpet opened in Evans Churchill. Angels Trumpet is not a brewery, and it’s not really a pub either. It identifies as an alehouse and offers a larger space and beer selection than most pubs. Most importantly, it was a harbinger of an emerging craft beer culture that is now taking hold. Continue reading “Angels Trumpet Ale House”
The origin of a restaurant’s name isn’t always obvious, but sometimes after a while the name takes on a life of its own. In Midtown Phoenix, the restaurant named Switch has recently undergone a major switch of its own — a switch from being under the umbrella of the same group behind Fez and Bliss to its new identity as an independent chef-owned restaurant. After about a decade of continuous operation, Switch is now firmly under the control of chef Jason Peterson, who ran the kitchen for many years before recently acquiring the restaurant itself. Continue reading “Switch”