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.
Radish is found deep inside the DeSoto Central Market, the dining hall, bar, event venue, 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 business 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 patio on the north side of the building facing Roosevelt.
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 meals 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 offered during cooler weather. Soup offerings have included 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 with thematically paired ingredients and names overloaded with clever 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 influences of other nations are clear in the Mexican-inspired Guac This Way and South by Southwest salads. El Mariachi, a more recent addition to the menu, is the first salad to incorporate the restaurant’s namesake ingredient, the humble radish, along with mixed greens, pico de gallo, adobo chicken, jalapeño, queso fresco, and fresh cilantro. A South American tinge is evident in the Chimi Hendrix salad, which pairs matches lettuces, arugula, roasted corn, grilled red bell peppers, quinoa, grilled zucchini, and red onion with a chimichurri vinaigrette.
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 grilled chicken, bacon, and bleu cheese prove that a salad doesn’t always have to mean light eating.
Kaleing Me Softly 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. Newer additions to the menu are two grain bowls that use a combination of quinoa and brown rice, rather than greenery, as their foundations to be topped with meats, vegetables, and dressings. A handful of wraps enclose their salad ingredients in a supple spinach tortilla.
Besides the salads, bowls, wraps, and soups, Radish’s menu features freshly prepared juice blends, all with the same type of cute, clever names as the salads. 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 blend, Kale Me Maybe, derives its intense color from leafy greens. A few of the beverages depart from fruits and vegetables with more esoteric components such as cashew milk, alkaline water, and activated charcoal.
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. Now that the restaurant’s namesake vegetable is part of one of the food vendor’s signature salad, almost everything from the garden is available at Radish, and much of it comes from local farms. Radish at the DeSoto Central Market may not always be about radish the vegetable, but it’s rad-ish in many other ways.
915 N. Central Ave., Phoenix AZ 85004
Roosevelt / Central Station