Moira Sushi Bar & Kitchen

The word “Moira,” at least as a given name for a person, is derived from a Greek word meaning “fate” or “destiny.” It’s not clear if Moira Sushi Bar and Kitchen, a Japanese restaurant in the Evans Churchill neighborhood of Downtown Phoenix, has any link to that Mediterranean lineage. Nevertheless, the name is fitting because Moira has been a harbinger of what is now occurring all around it. When the restaurant opened in 2009, it felt lonely, occupying the ground floor of the 215 East McKinley condominium building with vacant lots on surrounding blocks in every direction. Continue reading

Snoh Ice Shavery

How often does it snow in Phoenix? Natives and long-time residents will usually say there’s noticeable snowfall in the heart of the metropolitan area about once a decade, usually with a fine layer of white powder melting soon after contact with the ground. Outlying areas at higher elevations see a little more, and it’s not uncommon to see white peaks among the Mazatzal and Superstition mountains in the distance. In the Evans Churchill neighborhood at the north end of Downtown Phoenix, snow is now falling on a regular basis in the form of frozen desserts. Continue reading

SoSoBa

One of the most interesting food scenes in Arizona isn’t anywhere in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. It’s nearly 150 miles to the north of the state capital in Flagstaff. The mountain city of just over 70,000 people has recently garnered culinary respect for its homegrown restaurants and local purveyors. Beyond favorable media coverage and social media chatter, there’s one important indicator of Flagstaff’s gastronomic success — one of the city’s eateries branching out to open a second location in the much larger and more competitive Phoenix market. Continue reading

Tom’s Tavern

With the Downtown Phoenix real estate market heating up after years of sluggishness, it’s not surprising to see a major high-rise office complex change hands. At the end of 2016, it was announced that Renaissance Square, known for its twin towers linked by a sky bridge, had been sold to new owners for $151 million. No doubt renovations and some new tenants are likely to follow, but some parts of the complex represent a legacy even older than the buildings themselves. Tom’s Tavern, the property’s main full service restaurant, has existed since 1929. Continue reading

Thai Rama

Thai restaurants seem to come and go at a high frequency in Phoenix, expanding and contracting in loosely affiliated networks with establishments of the same name owned by different family members or business associates. One local veteran, Thai Rama, has varied its suburban locations over the years but has remained a consistent presence at its original address in central Phoenix. Near the Melrose and Grandview neighborhoods, Thai Rama has stood for several decades in a standalone building a few blocks west of the 7th Avenue / Camelback light rail station. Continue reading

Zookz

Over the past two years, Uptown Plaza, one of Phoenix’s oldest shopping centers, has undergone an extensive renovation. With the restoration of the property’s original brick facades and mid-century aesthetics, there has also been turnover among tenants, with the center’s owners promising a “mix of inspired local restaurants and boutiques, thoughtfully paired with national brands.” So far, brands based elsewhere like Shake Shack and Lou Manalti’s have attracted most of the publicity, but one local restaurant has moved its sole location to Uptown Plaza. Continue reading

Noodle Bar

Whether it’s technology like a smartphone or an entertainment franchise like Star Trek, there are times when the best fix is a reboot. Sometimes the decision to shut down and come back after changes occurs after years or decades of existence. In the case of Noodle Bar, the reboot came after less than a year of operation. After a shaky start as two separate fast-casual restaurants — one Japanese and Italian — in a small food court arrangement, a recent reboot has led to the creation of a single restaurant devoted to noodles from both nations in a full-service dining room. Continue reading