img_1145

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

img_5253

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

img_0685

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

img_1019

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

img_0257

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

img_0656

Mancuso’s

The Collier Center might be considered the middle child of big mixed use projects in Downtown Phoenix. It came along just over a decade after the Arizona Center, and about the same length of time before CityScape. As with human middle children, the development is sometimes overlooked and its best attributes hidden. The Collier Center’s prime restaurant space is located off the street on the second floor. If that architectural decision seems a mistake, it’s encouraging the obscure location is now occupied by Mancuso’s, a restaurant with prior experience at another hidden site. Continue reading

img_0590

Mekong Palace

Mekong Plaza, the shopping center in west Mesa that caters to shoppers of east Asian heritage, as well as the adventurous of all ethnicities, is so many things at once: a collection of restaurants and food vendor talls, a supermarket and specialty food shops, and a place to get one’s hair cut or nails done. It’s no surprise then that one of its namesake tenants, Mekong Palace, is three (or more restaurants) in one. Located at the north end of the building just beyond the food court, Mekong Palace has several distinct ways for customers to approach its mostly Cantonese food. Continue reading