“When your chips are down / When your highs are low / Joy ride.” Those words are the refrain of a Killers song from the last decade. The lyrics might refer to chips in terms of a poker metaphor, but there are plenty of chips of another kind to be found at Joyride Taco House, one of a cluster of Upward Projects restaurants located three or four blocks north of the Central / Camelback light rail station in Uptown Phoenix. Joyride is the latest addition to the family at this key corner, and it’s the first restaurant in the immediate area to serve Mexican, or at least Mexican-influenced, food.
“Drinking lunch with wine is not a crime.” That’s the wording of a bumper sticker distributed by local wine bar Postino. It’s a clever retort to a culture that discourages any alcohol consumption during business hours, but it comes at a time when the National Transportation Safety Board has questioned if the existing .08 standard for blood alcohol content is low enough to eliminate impaired driving. When driving is taken out of the equation, the message on the sticker is easier to endorse, especially at the two Postino locations easily reached by light rail, as well as bicycle.
Phoenix is a city that has long struggled with neighborhood identity. Take its large number of transplants, combine them with a grid of arterial streets, and the result is a population likely to describe places in terms of intersections rather than neighborhoods. It’s a minor miracle, therefore, when a business takes its name from the little known neighborhood in which it lies. In the case of St. Francis, located just two blocks east of the Central / Camelback light station, the name reflects a very specific neighborhood, rather than the broader, more ambiguous “Uptown” that surrounds it.
In September 2009, crowds gathered in Midtown to see the old Mountain Bell building, one of many designed by the late Phoenix architect Al Beadle, demolished after years of neglect. The lot cleared by the implosion is now home to an ordinary structure surrounded by copious surface parking, but many other Beadle buildings remain and are being preserved. Two miles north, a former First Federal Bank branch has become home to Federal Pizza, the latest venture by Upward Projects, the same folks behind the nearby Windsor and Postino.