The lowly radish, although sometimes delicious, doesn’t get much respect beyond the Tale of Peter Rabbit. Radish is the name of a new salad-and-juice stall inside the DeSoto Central Market, but the root vegetable doesn’t appear on the business’ current menu. Of course, 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 blends, big salads, pita chips, and daily soups.Radish is found deep inside the DeSoto Central Market, the new dining hall and market located in a restored auto dealership (DeSoto, of course) at the north end of Downtown Phoenix. The location is part of both the Roosevelt Row arts district and the Evans-Churchill neighborhood and right across the street from the Roosevelt / Central light rail station. The main entrance faces Central Avenue with a secondary entrance in an alley to the east. Bike racks are found on the north side of the building, and a Grid Bike Share station is across the street at the light rail station. Once inside the DeSoto building, Radish is all the way in the back. Walk past the bar, the staircase, the coffee counter, and head back into the food court. Radish is at the far end of the room, but it can often be spotted by the distinctive pedal-powered cart on display outside the stall. Like its neighbors in the DeSoto Central Market, Radish is a place to order at the counter. Customers wait for their salads to be assembled, and everything is packaged to go. The bottled juice blends are found in a refrigerated case just to the right of the counter. Big salads are the main attraction at Radish. The full size models are truly big — easily enough to serve as a filling lunch on their own. The half sizes are pretty substantial on their own but might combine well with a cup of soup, a different creation each day such as a light, summery gazpacho or spicy chicken with black beans. Although customers can specify their own custom salads with any ingredients available, the emphasis is on the kitchen’s own creations, currently ten on the menu, with thematically paired ingredients and names overloaded with wordplay. The Beard of Zeus is of course Greek-influenced. A base of romaine is topped with Mediterranean toppings such as chickpeas, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, and feta cheese. Grilled chicken is the salad’s main protein source, and a bit for fresh mint provides a note of herbal flavor. What makes these original salads work so well, though, is that each has its own customized dressing matched in both taste and consistency to the ingredients. In this case, it’s a creamy roasted garlic one that goes well with the southern European flavors in the big bowl. The Patagonia travels to another continent entirely, South America, and blends steak (or chicken if requested) with quinoa, arugula, romaine, red peppers. In this case, the dressing is modeled after chimichurri, the parsley-rich green sauce used to accentuate grilled meat in Argentina and Uruguay. The influences of other nations are clear in the Caribbean-tinged Jamaican Me Healthy salad, which combines jerked chicken with tropical fruits such as mango and plantain, and the Mexican-inspired Guac This Way and South by Southwest salads. Gnarles Parsley is Middle Eastern-ish with nods to both tabouleh and fattoush, two popular meatless dishes. It’s one of two salads that are vegetarian by default (although meat can be omitted from any of the others upon request). The other is Kaleing Me Softly, which also showcases a Middle Eastern influence in its inclusion of chickpeas and a lemon tahini dressing. The pleasingly unexpected element in this salad, though, is roasted sweet potato, which serves as a starchy, slightly sweet counterpoint to the leafy, trendy greens beneath it. All-American salads include Hungry Like the Wolf, a meaty combination of steak, arugula, bleu cheese, grilled onions, and roasted potatoes, as well as two recent additions to the menu with names also inspired by popular music. Berry Manilow is a spinach salad with chicken, pecans, strawberries, bacon, and bleu cheese topped with a champagne vinaigrette. Straight Outta Cobb-town is the most indulgent item on the menu. In this case, generous portions of fried chicken, bacon, and bleu cheese prove that a salad doesn’t always have to mean light eating. Besides the salads and daily soups, Radish’s menu features several freshly prepared juice blends, all with the same type of cute, clever names as the salads. Rad but True is probably the gentlest, most fruity of the juices, but it’s still potently flavored and colored by watermelon, cucumber, and mint. Carrot-E Kid goes beyond typical carrot juice with a flavor boost from ginger, and Just Beet It highlights its red roots with notes of lemon and apple. The most vegetable-oriented blends are Kale Me Maybe and You Spin Me, both of which derive their intense color from leafy greens. Pita chips and hummus rich in garlic are available as an appetizer or side dish. There’s no dessert and no alcohol at Radish, but other vendors in the Desoto Central Market offer ample possibilities in both realms. The only thing potentially missing is a salad or juice involving the restaurant’s namesake vegetable. Until that happens, almost everything else in the garden is available at Radish, and much of it comes from local farms. Radish at the DeSoto Central Market may not actually be about radish the vegetable, but it’s rad-ish in many other ways.
915 N. Central Ave., Phoenix AZ 85004
Roosevelt / Central Station