unPhogettable

In late 2008, an old Target store in west Mesa, approximately a quarter mile from the Sycamore / Main light rail station, was reborn as Mekong Plaza, a shopping center targeting the large southeast Asian community along the Dobson Corridor. In the years since, a lot has changed in the restaurant lineup there. After a few false starts and some turnover in tenants, the food court has settled into a steady, bustling state. There have been at least two iterations each of bakeries, bahn mi shops, and boba tea purveyors within the center’s walls. Continue reading

Press Coffee

An Australian real estate magnate recently made headlines with his thoughts on why young adults find home ownership an increasingly distant goal. For Tim Gurner, one cause is overspending on lattes and avocado toast. Various responses have noted that buying a house can be an insurmountable task for even the most frugal. Whether Gurner is right or wrong, it’s interesting that his comments have come at the same time that Press Coffee, a local purveyor of both lattes and avocado toast, has been expanding, mostly at locations in apartment buildings. Continue reading

Pho Thanh

Back in 2010, Pho Thanh replaced Pho Bang in the mostly Vietnamese shopping center at 17th Avenue and Camelback. That was itself a remarkable improvement. Where the previous restaurant had suffered a long decline into messy conditions and unresponsive service, Pho Thanh came in, scrubbed the walls, improved the food, and brought new life to the space. Since then, things have gotten even better with a subsequent expansion into an adjacent storefront and the recent opening of an adjoining ice cream shop. The result is a big, bustling dining room where steaming bowls of noodle soup are delivered to an appreciative clientele. Continue reading

Milk Run

There’s a longstanding saying that “dessert goes in a separate chamber,” a convenient rationalization for finding room for something sweet even after a substantial meal. At Milk Run, an ice cream and boba tea shop adjacent to the popular Vietnamese restaurant Pho Thanh, maybe an actual walk to a separate room next door reinforces that notion just enough to make a frozen treat after a bowl of pho appealing. Phoenix can always use another good ice cream shop, especially one with tropical flavors well matched to its neighbors southeast Asian food. Continue reading

Radish

The lowly radish, although delicious, doesn’t get much respect beyond the Tale of Peter Rabbit. Radish is the name of a salad-and-juice stall inside the DeSoto Central Market, but until recently the root vegetable didn’t appear on the small eatery’s menu. Of course, the usa of radish could be thought of in a hyphenated way as “rad-ish,” suggesting the quality of being “totally rad.” In that respect, Radish the restaurant’s name makes a bit more sense because it does describe a high quality place for fresh juice, big salads, grain bowls, wraps, pita chips, and daily soups. Continue reading

Cocina 10

More often than ever before, music and food seem to go together. It’s not just about playlists that set the mood for a dining room. It’s about recording artists like James Murphy, formerly of LCD Soundsystem, opening a wine bar in New York. It’s about food-centric writing such as the Guardian columns penned by Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, later published as a book entitled Sound Bites. In Phoenix, a favorite live music venue, the Crescent Ballroom, has responded to the trend in its own way by creating Cocina 10, a lounge and restaurant that goes beyond the minimal grub offered at most concert halls. Continue reading

Adobo Dragon

The word “adobo” comes up in describing food traditions everywhere from Spain to the Philippines. When Spanish explorers first reached the Philippines, they encountered a cooking process that involved stewing food in a vinegar-based sauce. Although distinct in its origins from Spanish adobo, which also involves vinegar, the word was used to describe the Filipino technique. Now many variants of adobo exist in various former Spanish colonies around the world, creating a network of vinegar and spice that extends across multiples continents and archipelagos. Continue reading