Taco Chelo

There are few streets in Phoenix that have undergone as rapid a transformation as Fifth Street, specifically the block between Roosevelt and Garfield. The changes aren’t necessarily physical. None of the historic houses has been torn down, but there has been a change in character from a Bohemian block with a DIY feel to a new status that has yet to be fully defined. Where Fifth Street meets Roosevelt, five blocks east of the Roosevelt / Central light rail station, one of the first of the new arrivals is Taco Chelo, part of the Blocks of Roosevelt Row development. Continue reading “Taco Chelo”

Asian Cafe Express

For the past ten years, the Dobson Road corridor in Mesa and Chandler has been the scene of explosive growth in Asian restaurants and groceries. Most recently, the trend has been toward regional Chinese cooking with the opening of several eateries that specialize in food traditions from corners of China less familiar to American diners. At the same time, several restaurants devoted to Cantonese fare, the style of Chinese food best known in the United States, have closed after decades in central Phoenix, perhaps suggesting that Cantonese food is in decline. Continue reading “Asian Cafe Express”

The Arrogant Butcher

Fox Restaurant Concepts may be one of the dominant players in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area’s dining scene, but its traditional strongholds have long been in places like Scottsdale and Arcadia. The Arrogant Butcher, located in the CityScape development, is Fox’s sole foray to date into Downtown Phoenix. Back in 2011, opening a restaurant in the city center seemed a big deal for Fox. Years later, the Arrogant Butcher is an established part of the downtown restaurant spectrum, even as more competition has arrived in the surrounding blocks. Continue reading “The Arrogant Butcher”

Nunthaporn’s Thai Cuisine

After years of delayed hopes, Mesa’s small but charming downtown is beginning to see a wave of new development. Co+Hoots, the Phoenix-based coworking space, is on the way, and one proposal envisions a 15-story tower on a site currently used for parking. Close to all the action sits one long-running Downtown Mesa restaurant, Nunthaporn’s Thai Cuisine. Nunthaporn’s, which takes it names from founder Nunthaporn Treekamol, is growing as well with the recent addition of a second dining room to complement the restaurant’s original shoebox-style space. Continue reading “Nunthaporn’s Thai Cuisine”

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”

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