Willie’s Taco Joint

During the contentious 2016 presidential campaign, one of the more memorable phrases was the warning that immigration from Mexico might result in “taco trucks on every corner.” Of course, not everyone thought that would necessarily be a bad outcome. In Downtown Phoenix, we’re a long way from ubiquitous taco trucks, but one taco “joint,” specifically Willie’s Taco Joint, is thriving at the corner of Third Street and Jefferson — not in a truck but instead in a retail space on the ground level of a parking garage situated just behind the eastbound light rail platform. Continue reading “Willie’s Taco Joint”

Tom Yum

Sometimes, it’s a soup that becomes a cuisine’s calling card. Vietnam is known for pho, Italy for minestrone, and Russia for borscht. Thailand has its own soups, often served in tureens heated by an open flame and infused with fragrance and flavor from ingredients such as lemongrass, kaffir lime, ginger, and coconut milk. Tom Yum, a small local chain of Thai restaurants, takes its name from a popular hot-and-sour soup. It might also help just a bit that the name contains the word “yum,” subtly adding a bit of the wordplay so common in Thai restaurant names. Continue reading “Tom Yum”

Haven Burgers

After half a year spent behind fences, Mesa’s Pioneer Park has finally reopened after nearly $8 million dollars of renovations. The new look combines modern play structures, a splash pad, and artistic light features while retaining the park’s mature trees and a refurbished Engine 2355, the vintage Southern Pacific steam locomotive that has been on display for over half a century. With all the improvements to the park, it’s easy to work up an appetite. With that in mind, it’s useful to have Haven Burgers located across the street from the park’s eastern edge. Continue reading “Haven Burgers”

Kream Coffee

Cream in coffee, disliked by some purists but favored by many consumers, is a sort of accent to a robust beverage. A little splash can make a cup full of brew more palatable and cool it to a drinkable temperature. Likewise, a little bit of coffee culture can add a bit of panache and convenience to a retail environment. Grocery and department stores have discovered that with their ubiquitous in-house chain coffee operations. For a small, independent design shop, however, something a little more stylish is in order. That’s the role played by Kream Coffee. Continue reading “Kream Coffee”

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 “The Whining Pig”

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 “Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana”

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 “Harumi Sushi”

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 “Breakfast Club”

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 “La Piazza PHX”

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