A decade later than originally planned, an outpost of LGO Hospitality has finally arrived in downtown Phoenix. LGO stands for La Grande Orange, which originated on the east side of Phoenix with its gourmet grocery and pizzeria. A similar operation was planned for the CityScape development when it opened in 2011 but was abandoned at the last minute, ostensibly due to ventilation issues. More than 10 years later, another LGO brand, Ingo’s Tasty Food has opened across the street from CityScape in the same developer’s Block 23 project.
Because the downtown Ingo’s is in the heart of the downtown Phoenix business and entertainment district, it is served by multiple light rail stations in the surrounding blocks and will be a short walk from the new downtown transit hub currently under construction in association with the South Central and Capitol extensions. There are two entrances: one from First Street and the other from the lobby of the office portion of the building accessible from Washington Street. Bike racks are found on the other side of First Street and also outside Fry’s.
Unlike the original Ingo’s at 40th Street and Campbell, a freestanding building designed by Will Bruder, the downtown location is built into the ground floor of a building full of apartments, offices, and a Fry’s grocery. Due to space constraints, there is not the extensive outdoor seating that characterizes the original Ingo’s. Instead, Ingo’s keeps its big windows facing First Street open when weather permits, and a mezzanine adds a second level of seating that takes advantage of the tall ceiling in the dining room. The result is an open feel even in a small space.
Ingo’s operates with a sort of hybrid service model. Printed menus are found at the entrance, and initial orders are placed at a counter. During busy times roving, staff with handheld devices will take orders from customers waiting in line. Once a customer is seated, those same staff will not only bring items to the table, but also accept any additional orders. That’s a welcome refinement to the fast-casual model that can enable a spontaneous decision to order a dessert or another round of drinks by eliminating the inconvenience of waiting in line a second time.
The menu downtown is the same as in Arcadia in terms of lunch and dinner offerings and adds a more extensive breakfast selection. The focus is on modern adaptations of traditional favorites and some more contemporary options, most of them taking the form of sandwiches and salads. Two burgers are the cornerstone of the restaurant’s approach. The Paris, Texas burger tops a patty of grass-fed beef with bacon and BBQ sauce while the Farmer’s Daughter focuses on Swiss cheese and sauerkraut, along with some Dijonnaise spread on the toasted bun.
Additional sandwich options include crispy chicken with a slab of breaded poultry pushing beyond the boundaries of the bun. Within, a spicy aioli condiment is contrasted with the crisp sweetness of sliced green apple. A whitefish club sandwich takes a similar approach with tartar sauce providing moisture and flavor. The Duchess features sliced roasted tri-tip with some au jus for dipping on the side. At the opposite end of the spectrum, a spicy vegan burger incorporates a mix of cashews, poblanos, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and a cheese alternative.
Ingo’s other half is its menu of salad and entrees in bowls. The fennel and orange salad involves segments of fresh citrus, onion gastrique, avocado, and goat cheese over a bed of greens The chopped chef salad tops romaine with dates, white beans, avocado, and almonds. The kale and quinoa salad may sound at first like a trendy cliché, but it works due to the influences of preserved lemon and manchego cheese. An heirloom brown rice bowl dispenses with greenery and focuses instead on grain accentuated with sweet potato, feta, and pepitas.
All of these salads can be accessorized with added fish, chicken, or beef, and doing so might make these light meals a bit more hearty. Aside from the house-made “shattered” potato chips offered with both a green hot sauce and lebni, a Mediterranean sauce somewhere between yogurt and cheese, they’re about the only side dishes to accompany a burger or sandwich, all of which are offered a la carte. Because there are no small side salads or servings of chips available, Ingo’s has a menu that rewards sharing but can prove pricey for anyone dining alone.
Another way to add to an Ingo’s meal is to order one of the LGO pastries available at the counter. Regular offerings include bear claws topped with sliced almonds; scones flavored with lemon and poppy seeds, miniature coffee cakes studded with blueberries; and “Opies,” individual-sized fruit pies with fillings such as cherry or blueberries. Ingo’s also serves a full range of tea, coffee, and espresso drinks and adds a few of its own flourishes with creations like a salted butterscotch latte, a ginger cold brew, and a golden honey latte seasoned with turmeric.
Ingo’s also has a liquor license, which may not suit the office lunch crowd, but does come in handy during happy hour and evening service. The small bar behind the counter produces a handful of cocktails like a greyhound with fresh grapefruit, lime, mint, and vodka. The restaurant also pours a small selection of wine and beer. It may have taken a decade to find a niche an LGO concept could fill in downtown Phoenix, but one positive aspect of the wait was that the restaurant group had more time to develop new ideas, including Ingo’s at Block 23.
101 E. Washington St. Suite A, Phoenix AZ 85004