Breakfast Club

Nearly everyone has seen the Breakfast Club, the classic John Hughes movie, but who remembers Breakfast Club the band? Besides Madonna’s brief tenure as the group’s drummer, that Breakfast Club is best known for its one hit, “Right on Track.” Three decades later, there’s a restaurant called Breakfast Club (no “the”) at CityScape and, just like the 1987 hit song, it’s right on track — light rail track, that is. This particular Breakfast Club is just two blocks from the Central / Washington (westbound) and First Avenue / Jefferson (eastbound) light stations. Continue reading

La Piazza PHX

For the last few years, it seemed like light rail was inching closer to Glendale. Those hopes were dashed, at least for the time being, by a recent vote of the Glendale City Council. While the city’s financial struggles and unresolved issues of the track’s final destination may be keeping trains out of Glendale, it’s thankfully still possible to enjoy one of Downtown Glendale’s best restaurants in Downtown Phoenix. La Piazza PHX, an offshoot of Glendale’s La Piazza al Forno, is located just a block or two from multiple light rail stations in the city center. Continue reading

Forno 301

It’s become a common complaint that “high rises” and “condos” are ruining Roosevelt Row and nearby neighborhoods. In reality, most of the construction isn’t tall enough to be meet any widely accepted definition of “high rise,” and most of what is being built is apartments rather than condominiums. More importantly, while a few businesses have been displaced, many are finding new homes in the ground floor of new residential mid-rises. Forno 301 is one of those businesses, having recently relocated from west Roosevelt to the Muse apartments a half mile to the north. Continue reading

NCounter

For a society supposedly obsessed with brevity and starved for time, we seem to have an unexpected and enduring fascination with word games. Scrabble, the classic, now exists in digital formats for smartphones, tablets, and Facebook. The newer alternative, Words with Friends, provides a similar game with a social component added. Given the widespread enthusiasm for arranging letter tiles on game boards or touch screens, it should not be surprising to see a restaurant, NCounter, using the alphabet as part of its logo and decor. Continue reading

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