Recent headlines have lamented the closure of MetroCenter, once the largest mall in the Southwest. Long before MetroCenter’s rise and eventual fall, Phoenix saw the development of its first mall: Park Central. In the heart of the area now known as Midtown, Park Central’s development in the 1950s was the first step in retail’s departure from the traditional downtown business district three miles south. Of course, Park Central, like most malls, has faded as a shopping destination, but it is now finally re-emerging as an office and health care cluster. Continue reading “Thai Basil (Park Central)”
Long before light rail traveled along Central Avenue through the high-rise business district known as Midtown, that stretch of the city’s spine was known for its cruising culture. Cruising meant not only showing off cars and socializing, but also stopping for sustenance. The foods historically associated with cruising have been burgers, fries, and shakes. While cruising now occurs only as part of occasional special events, some semblance of the old cruising culture endures at Lenny’s Burger, a retro-themed hamburger restaurant in the heart of Midtown. Continue reading “Lenny’s Burger”
The origin of a restaurant’s name isn’t always obvious, but sometimes after a while the name takes on a life of its own. In Midtown Phoenix, the restaurant named Switch has recently undergone a major switch of its own — a switch from being under the umbrella of the same group behind Fez and Bliss to its new identity as an independent chef-owned restaurant. After about a decade of continuous operation, Switch is now firmly under the control of chef Jason Peterson, who ran the kitchen for many years before recently acquiring the restaurant itself. Continue reading “Switch”
After years in the doldrums, Midtown seems to be enjoying a modest resurgence. In the linear business district along Central between McDowell and Indian School, employers such as Banner have occupied vacant space in office buildings, new residential construction is underway, and coworking spaces have set up shop. In fact, the name “Midtown,” long obscure to residents who thought of everything south of Camelback as “Downtown,” has acquired enough cachet to see its borders stretched, with restaurants as far east as 24th Street using “Midtown” in their names. Continue reading “Wild Thaiger”
For the past decade or so, the trend in Phoenix dining has been outdoor eating environments. Restaurants have invested in patios, sometimes larger than their indoor dining rooms, and many have built rolling garage-style doors that open the inside to the outside during mild weather. There is, however, one restaurant that has shunned the sun for over 65 years. Durant’s, the classic steak and seafood restaurant on Central Avenue halfway between the Encanto / Central and Thomas / Central light rail stations in Phoenix’s Midtown district, is deliberately dark and likely to stay that way. Continue reading “Durant’s”
Which city is fifth largest in the United States? To those who care about such distinctions, it’s been a back-and-forth battle over the last decade between Phoenix and Philadelphia, with Phoenix having briefly claimed fifth only to be put back in sixth place a little later. Does it really matter? The birthplace of the nation and one of the country’s youngest major cities might not have that much in common, save a “ph” making an “f” sound at beginning of each, but there certainly areas in which the two cities can benefit from an exchange of goods, services, ideas, and, of course, food.