Oven+Vine

The phrase “dead end street” doesn’t usually have a positive connotation. Literally, it means only one way in and out. Figuratively, it suggests a failed project. Maybe that’s why the fancier sounding “cul-de-sac” has become the preferred wording. In Midtown, many local streets were converted to cul-de-sacs over a decade ago in order to mitigate traffic in the adjacent Willo historic district. For Oven+Vine, a restaurant on the boundary between Willo and the Midtown commercial corridor, an address on a literal dead-end doesn’t have to lead to a figurative one. Continue reading

Carly’s Bistro

The transformation of Roosevelt Row over the past decade seems a lot like a three-act play. In the first act, small businesses and art galleries pioneered in a neglected area and adapted neglected vintage buildings. In the second act, the district received attention and recognition from city government, resulting in a streetscape project that added bike lanes and widened sidewalks to create opportunities for patio dining. Carly’s Bistro has not only survived but improved during the first two acts. Now, it’s only logical to wonder what will happen in the third act. Continue reading

Giant Coffee

There’s some debate these days about the construction of multi-story apartment buildings (more mid-rise than high-rise) in the zone around Hance Park where Downtown meets Midtown. Maybe it was prescient that a coffee house opened back in 2010 adopted the name “Giant Coffee,” foretelling the arrival of taller buildings in a neighborhood that was then full of vacant lots and neglected properties. Although Giant’s own building is only two stories tall, its location seems to be well situated to take advantage of new customers expected as a result of nearby construction. Continue reading

Tasty Kabob

Iran has been in the news a lot lately. From the agreement intended to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons to the re-election of the current president, there have been plenty of headlines about political intrigue within the Islamic theocracy that has dominated the country since 1979. A more enduring heritage is found, however, in the culture of Persia, the ancient, storied civilization that flourished long before today’s controversies. Persian food, underappreciated in the United States, flourishes at Tasty Kabob, located along the Apache Boulevard “Spice Trail” in Tempe. Continue reading

Canyon Cafe

Anyone visiting the Arizona Center recently may have noticed some renovations going on at the development. Some of the changes are significant changes to the complex’s look, even if they fail to completely remediate the center’s major shortcoming: its inward focus and lack of street presence. Still, new owners are investing in the property and trying to give it a viable future with a fresh look and promises to add a hotel and housing. Amid all this change, one of the few survivors of the original tenant mix, Canyon Cafe, endures in one of the Arizona Center’s prime spots. Continue reading

MJ’s BBQ Chicken & Fish

Look at any map of development along light rail, including the one associated with this blog, and there’s a pretty big gap. It begins around 16th Street, where the Eastlake neighborhood with its historic churches gives away to a light industrial area that continues for two miles or so until the tracks reach Gateway Community College and Sky Harbor Airport. Businesses can struggle in this zone, but one recent arrival, MJ’s Barbecue Chicken & Fish (no commas), is not only worth the trip, but also drawing increasing numbers of customers despite its somewhat isolated location. Continue reading

Phoenix Public Market Cafe

Farmers markets are seemingly everywhere these days, but one of the longest-running ones is the Phoenix Public Market at the north end of Downtown. The open-air market, which just celebrated its 12th birthday, has one feature that few can claim: an adjacent restaurant that celebrates the bounty of the market and locally produced food seven days a week. The Phoenix Public Market Cafe, sometimes also known as the Cafe at the Phoenix Public Market, operates just east of the outdoor market site, three blocks south of the Roosevelt / Central light rail station. Continue reading