A saying attributed to the activist and author Jane Jacobs is that “new ideas need old buildings.” If that’s true, then the 1924 Luhrs Building seems like an ideal incubator for innovation. Among the Luhrs office tenants, that means various start-up firms. On the culinary front, the main attraction on the ground floor of the Luhrs Building is Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour. Cocktails are of course an old concept, but their revival is a contemporary trend, especially when the beverages are paired with Asian-inspired bar food of equivalent quality. Continue reading
Restaurant names follow all sorts of trends, and one of the current ones is the use of a conjunction to link two concepts — sometimes with the full word “and,” often with an ampersand, and increasingly with a plus sign. Places with names fitting this format have opened all over in recent years. Now, a coffeehouse on Roosevelt Row takes the trend a few steps beyond with not one, but two plus signs, not to mention irregular capitalization. The shop is called “be Coffee + Food + Stuff,” but for the sake of simplicity, it’s most often referred to as just “be Coffee.” Continue reading
Long before light rail traveled up and down Central Avenue through the high-rise business district now known as Midtown, that stretch of the city’s spine was known for its cruising culture. Of course, cruising meant not only showing off cars and socializing, but also stopping for sustenance. The foods historically associated with cruising have been burgers, fries, and shakes. While cruising now occurs only as part of occasional special events, some semblance of the old cruising culture endures at Lenny’s Burger, a retro-themed hamburger restaurant in the heart of Midtown. Continue reading
Over the past quarter century, independent bookstores have nearly vanished and then begun a gradual recovery. Phoenix used to have plenty of them: Houle, Dushoff, and Shakespeare Beethoven & Company are all names that live only in local readers’ memories. Those stores are long gone, but Tempe-based Changing Hands has not only survived competition from online stores and chains, but also opened a second location in Uptown Phoenix. The Phoenix store is smaller than the one in southern Tempe, but it has a distinguishing feature: First Draft Book Bar. Continue reading
80 years ago, long before Seinfeld, Saturday Night Live, or even the Smothers Brothers, Abbott and Costello popularized the legendary “Who’s on First” comedy routine in their live performances and radio show. The dialogue concerned first base in a ball game, but if one were to ask who’s first on First Street in Downtown Phoenix, the answer would be the office building with one North First Street as its address. This recently renovated structure is home to military recruiters, symphony offices, venture capitalists, and, at ground level, Cartel Coffee Lab.
Maybe there’s already a serious research study out there somewhere, but one question that’s interesting to ponder is what relationship, if any, there is between the size of a restaurant and the size of its menu. A food cart that sells only two or three items makes sense. So does a banquet hall with an expansive menu. On the other hand, a large restaurant that serves a small menu suggests mass production rather than craft. What about the opposite: a small restaurant with an unexpectedly large menu? In the case of Yama Sushi House, the combination actually works. Continue reading
At the southern edge of Hance Park, a mid-rise building formerly known as the Lexington Hotel has spent most its history as a boring beige box. The property was occasionally redeemed, however, by some unexpected bursts of brilliance from its restaurant. When the hotel was a Best Western, the kitchen served standard American fare but had a secret Indian menu available to those savvy enough to request it. Later, it became home to Cycle, a series of pop-up engagements in which its kitchen was taken over by a changing cast of local chefs. Continue reading