The Whining Pig

In the past few years, it seems that Phoenix, like cities around the country, has been in the midst of a cocktail craze. The result has been a renaissance of classic drinks artfully prepared and creative cocktails that find new ways to blend ingredients in previously untried combinations. With so much emphasis on mixed drinks, as enjoyable as they are, it’s easy to wonder where to go to enjoy the simple pleasures of beer and wine. At the Whining Pig, a bar recently opened at the Collier Center, the emphasis is wholly on wine and beer, with a little food on the side. Continue reading

Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana

Long ago, the only place for pizza in Downtown Phoenix was a lonely Pizza Hut on First Street. The area was so desolate that the chain pizzeria reportedly wouldn’t even deliver to some addresses a few blocks away. That Pizza Hut is still present on First Street, but in recent years, the surrounding neighborhoods have become home to half a dozen high quality pizza restaurants of local origin. One of those, Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana, is situated directly across the street from its franchised counterpart. Continue reading

Harumi Sushi

There aren’t a lot of purple foods, but those that lie somewhere between red and blue tend to be vibrant and surprising. Think of the complex purple of grapes, the nearly black purple of an eggplant, and the unexpected purple found in some varieties of cauliflower, carrots, and potatoes. The pigments responsible are called “anthocyanins,” and they also have a role to play in making a type of rice appear black in its raw state and purple after some time in the rice cooker. That black / purple rice is a key feature at Harumi Sushi in Downtown Phoenix. Continue reading

Breakfast Club

Nearly everyone has seen the Breakfast Club, the classic John Hughes movie, but who remembers Breakfast Club the band? Besides Madonna’s brief tenure as the group’s drummer, that Breakfast Club is best known for its one hit, “Right on Track.” Three decades later, there’s a restaurant called Breakfast Club (no “the”) at CityScape and, just like the 1987 hit song, it’s right on track — light rail track, that is. This particular Breakfast Club is just two blocks from the Central / Washington (westbound) and First Avenue / Jefferson (eastbound) light stations. Continue reading

La Piazza PHX

For the last few years, it seemed like light rail was inching closer to Glendale. Those hopes were dashed, at least for the time being, by a recent vote of the Glendale City Council. While the city’s financial struggles and unresolved issues of the track’s final destination may be keeping trains out of Glendale, it’s thankfully still possible to enjoy one of Downtown Glendale’s best restaurants in Downtown Phoenix. La Piazza PHX, an offshoot of Glendale’s La Piazza al Forno, is located just a block or two from multiple light rail stations in the city center. Continue reading

Forno 301

It’s become a common complaint that “high rises” and “condos” are ruining Roosevelt Row and nearby neighborhoods. In reality, most of the construction isn’t tall enough to be meet any widely accepted definition of “high rise,” and most of what is being built is apartments rather than condominiums. More importantly, while a few businesses have been displaced, many are finding new homes in the ground floor of new residential mid-rises. Forno 301 is one of those businesses, having recently relocated from west Roosevelt to the Muse apartments a half mile to the north. Continue reading

NCounter

For a society supposedly obsessed with brevity and starved for time, we seem to have an unexpected and enduring fascination with word games. Scrabble, the classic, now exists in digital formats for smartphones, tablets, and Facebook. The newer alternative, Words with Friends, provides a similar game with a social component added. Given the widespread enthusiasm for arranging letter tiles on game boards or touch screens, it should not be surprising to see a restaurant, NCounter, using the alphabet as part of its logo and decor. Continue reading