State 48 Brewery

There are two explanations for how Surprise, Arizona, got its name. One is that the burgeoning exurb was named for the village of Surprise, Nebraska. Another is that the founder said she’d be surprised if the community ever amounted to anything. Given the growth of Surprise, the city has amounted to something, but it’s only in the last few years that Surprise-based businesses have garnered a reputation elsewhere in the metropolitan area. One of those, State 48 Brewery, has made a journey of over 20 miles via Grand Avenue to open in downtown Phoenix. Continue reading “State 48 Brewery”

Valley Bar

Alleys have a bad reputation. In the north central part of Phoenix, residents have worked with the city to close alleys in residential neighborhoods, where “highways for bad things” are associated with crime. Downtown, however, alleys play a more helpful role in the urban fabric by taking back-of-the-house functions such as trash collection and loading docks off the street and by breaking up blocks to preserve the opportunity for fine-grained development. Alleys can also be a place in which to hide a city’s best secrets, and Valley Bar is one of them. Continue reading “Valley Bar”

Centrico

It’s hard to believe, but as recently as a few years ago, it was hard to find a good taco, or any taco at all, in the core downtown business district of Phoenix. Business travelers and convention attendees expected the Southwest’s largest city to offer at least somewhat authentic Mexican food within walking distance of their hotels. Instead, they were directed to options that might be near downtown but not within the walkable core of the city. That sorry state of affairs has begun to change with the recent opening of several new Mexican restaurants, including Centrico. Continue reading “Centrico”

Hidden Track Cafe

Aficionados of rock and pop music have long delighted in discovering hidden tracks, secret songs not listed on an album’s packaging. Ditties like the Beatles’ “Her Majesty” appeared when records were dominant, and hidden tracks persisted with compact discs. Less common in an age of streaming services and song-by-song disaggregated listening, the idea is still relevant enough that there’s a Downtown Phoenix wine and beer store named “Hidden Track Bottle Shop.” Now, that moniker is shared with an adjacent coffee house, Hidden Track Cafe. Continue reading “Hidden Track Cafe”

Harumi Sushi

There aren’t a lot of purple foods, but those that lie somewhere between red and blue tend to be vibrant and surprising. Think of the complex purple of grapes, the nearly black purple of an eggplant, and the unexpected purple found in some varieties of cauliflower, carrots, and potatoes. The pigments responsible are called “anthocyanins,” and they also have a role to play in making a type of rice appear black in its raw state and purple after some time in the rice cooker. That black / purple rice is a key feature at Harumi Sushi in Downtown Phoenix. Continue reading “Harumi Sushi”

Cocina 10

More often than ever before, music and food seem to go together. It’s not just about playlists that set the mood for a dining room. It’s about recording artists like James Murphy, formerly of LCD Soundsystem, opening a wine bar in New York. It’s about food-centric writing such as the Guardian columns penned by Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, later published as a book entitled Sound Bites. In Phoenix, a favorite live music venue, the Crescent Ballroom, has responded to the trend in its own way by creating Cocina 10, a lounge and restaurant that goes beyond the minimal grub offered at most concert halls. Continue reading “Cocina 10”

Canyon Cafe

Anyone visiting the Arizona Center recently may have noticed some renovations going on at the development. Some of the changes are significant changes to the complex’s look, even if they fail to completely remediate the center’s major shortcoming: its inward focus and lack of street presence. Still, new owners are investing in the property and trying to give it a viable future with a fresh look and promises to add a hotel and housing. Amid all this change, one of the few survivors of the original tenant mix, Canyon Cafe, endures in one of the Arizona Center’s prime spots. Continue reading “Canyon Cafe”

Cornish Pasty Company

Higher education, especially at the graduate level, often relies on case studies, detailed accounts of specific events, phenomena, or organizations. If anyone were to write a case study about the Cornish Pasty Company (CPC), it might be pretty interesting. From its humble beginnings a decade ago, CPC has become a mini-chain throughout the region, and two of its latest locations are urban ones. A brand new location on Monroe Street in Phoenix has just opened after years of delays, and last year a much smaller location on Mill Avenue in Tempe quietly debuted. Continue reading “Cornish Pasty Company”

Province Urban Kitchen & Bar

From Canada to China, the word “province” describes a geographical and political division within a country, similar to an American state. There’s another meaning of the plural “provinces” to describe outlying areas of a nation beyond the capital city and financial center. Strictly speaking, neither meaning really applies in the heart of Downtown Phoenix, but the word does fit well with a theme of geographically named hotel restaurants along Van Buren. If the nearby Sheraton has a restaurant named District, why not establish a Province at the Westin just a few blocks away? Continue reading “Province Urban Kitchen & Bar”

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