Trapper’s Sushi

Although sushi is strongly associated with Japan, most accounts of its origins trace the fish-and-rice combination to China or southeast Asia, where it began as a means of preserving fish by combining it with rice and vinegar. With sushi having become so popular outside of Japan in recent decades, it’s sometimes unclear if the elaborate rolls being served in American restaurants are really Japanese at all. Trapper’s Sushi in downtown Phoenix is the type of sushi place that embraces an Americanized approach without any shame and with some success.

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Morning Squeeze

Anyone who has lived in Phoenix for a while may remember a time when many downtown restaurants were open only on weekdays to serve lunch to nearby office workers. Now, more have embraced dinner service to reflect increased evening activity. In Tempe, those who follow developments on Mill Avenue know that part of town becomes most lively after dark. With rising residential populations in and near the downtowns of both cities, there is now a proliferation of breakfast restaurants situated in urban centers, including the newest one, Morning Squeeze.

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Ingo’s Tasty Food

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.

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Pa’La

It took 28 years, but in 2021, the Phoenix Suns made it to the National Basketball Association finals for the second time. When the Suns did this the first time in 1993, they had just enjoyed their first season in their then-new arena. The surrounding blocks of downtown were still pretty bleak, however. A lot has changed in nearly three decades, and the city’s core now has even more restaurants than it did before the pandemic. Among many new arrivals is Pa’La, an upgraded version of a chef-driven restaurant with an original location on 24th Street.

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Blanco Cocina + Cantina

When downtown Phoenix has seen developments with ambitious names like “CityScape” and “The Arizona Center,” it’s hard to get excited about something with the more modest moniker of “Block 23.” All it takes is a little awareness of local history, though, to understand the importance of the redevelopment of this site, named for the numbered system of parcels used when the city was first developed. Block 23 has been home to city hall, a fire station, the Fox Theater, and a JCPenney store before sitting vacant, underutilized as surface parking, for several decades.

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Cartel Roasting Co.

Observers of coffee culture often speak in terms of waves. The current wave, one that has been crashing over our cities since the ‘90s, is the third one, although there has been talk of an emerging fourth wave. Regardless of what trends dominate worldwide, one local coffee house has been making its own waves for over a decade via steady expansion throughout Arizona and even a few points beyond. Now with ten locations, Tempe-based Cartel Roasting Co. has grown a great deal since its founding in 2007, both in terms of its beverage and food to accompany it.

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Kaizen

Call them “ghost”, “virtual,” or “cloud” kitchens. Regardless of the name, the idea of restaurants with their own menus and brands but no on-site dining was already taking off in 2019. The pandemic of 2020 has only accelerated the trend, sometimes without much transparency. A single kitchen may prepare several types of food under myriad brands with availability limited to third-party delivery services with steep fees. Kaizen, named for the Japanese idea of quality improvement, lives up to its name with a better version of a virtual restaurant focused on sushi. Continue reading “Kaizen”

Barrel & Bushel

There comes a time in every hotel’s life when it’s time for renovations. In downtown Phoenix, the Hyatt Regency has been a mainstay of the city’s convention business since its opening in the 1970s. Its construction was part of a wave of urban renewal also responsible for Symphony Hall and the original convention center buildings. With the convention center much larger now and designs from over four decades ago looking dated, the Hyatt’s latest round of improvements are welcome, and the hotel’s ground-floor restaurant and bar has been one of the visible priorities. Continue reading “Barrel & Bushel”

Crown Public House

In the corporate world, mergers are often greeted with skepticism. While shareholders may see increased value, employees fear layoffs and customers may experience market concentration. While it’s common for airlines, banks, and consumer product companies to merge, it’s far more rare to hear about a union of two restaurants. In downtown Phoenix, the marriage of an English pub known as a gathering place for Liverpool soccer fans and an all-American sports bar frequented by Diamondbacks and Suns supporters has resulted in the Crown Public House.

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Dapper & Stout

With over 100 days with high temperatures over 100 degrees, Phoenix is not the most obvious place for a coffee house with only outdoor seating — unless of course, the establishment is based primarily on a grab-and-go business model. That’s the case with Dapper & Stout, a coffee “house” that is really a counter and patio at the Collier Center in downtown Phoenix. If that setup sounds Spartan, it’s actually somewhat stylish. A long metal table in the shade of the office tower overhead hides just behind the escalators on the development’s northeastern corner. Continue reading “Dapper & Stout”

The Larry

Phoenix’s Warehouse District, located just south of downtown, has become something of a mini tech hub in recent years. With companies like WebPT occupying the vintage buildings found south of both the light rail and the Union Pacific freight railroad tracks, the area has received national media coverage and increased attention from the city’s economic development department. Where there are tech companies, there’s a need for places to eat and gather. It’s not uncommon to see food trucks parked outside certain buildings, but until recently, there have been few established eateries. Continue reading “The Larry”

The Arrogant Butcher

Fox Restaurant Concepts may be one of the dominant players in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area’s dining scene, but its traditional strongholds have long been in places like Scottsdale and Arcadia. The Arrogant Butcher, located in the CityScape development, is Fox’s sole foray to date into Downtown Phoenix. Back in 2011, opening a restaurant in the city center seemed a big deal for Fox. Years later, the Arrogant Butcher is an established part of the downtown restaurant spectrum, even as more competition has arrived in the surrounding blocks. Continue reading “The Arrogant Butcher”

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