Huss Brewing Downtown

Originally part of a 1970s urban renewal project known as Phoenix Civic Plaza, the city’s convention center has grown over decades to fill multiple city blocks in the downtown business district. Like most convention centers, it can be lively during major events. At slower times, it presents blank walls and locked doors to the street, diminishing the vitality of the surrounding area. Knowing what a mixed impact convention centers can have on the urban fabric, the Phoenix Convention Center has partnered with Huss Brewing to enhance its street presence.

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Metro BurgerZ

Whether it’s arbitrarily calling young people born between certain years “Generation Z” or enjoying the zombie apocalypse depicted in the “Z Nation” franchise, the letter Z seems to be gaining greater currency than its status at the end of the alphabet might suggest. A burger joint at the Collier Center in downtown Phoenix has recently jumped on board the Z bandwagon with the name “Metro BurgerZ,” a reflection of the restaurant’s urban location, its primary menu item, and, of course, a capital Z in place of a regular S to signify a plural word just for fun.

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Pedal Haus

Trends in restaurant branding are always changing and seldom boring. Two current ones include associating a business with bicycling and using the German word “haus” to describe a building. Combining the two, Pedal Haus started as a brewery and restaurant in 2015 in the big “haus” of the Centerpoint development in downtown Tempe, an area known for its widespread use of bicycles. Since then, it has expanded to multiple locations, with the latest to open being in the Monorchid building on Roosevelt Row at the north end of downtown Phoenix.

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The Bread and Honey House

On the east side of Phoenix, next to a neighborhood called Delano Estates and in the shadow of the SR143 freeway, there’s a little building on Van Buren that has served for decades as a dining space. It was once a tiny Mexican restaurant, but more recently it has been re-imagined as a breakfast and lunch destination offering a blend of American and Mexican comfort foods. The result is the Bread and Honey House, a small establishment that opened just half a year before the pandemic and has adapted, endured, and expanded over the past few years.

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Throne Brewing & Pizza Kitchen

With the current brewery boom, craft beer producers have sprouted in nearly all corners of the  Phoenix Metro Area. After becoming established in their places of origin, a next step for many is to create a presence in or near downtown Phoenix with a taproom or pub. State 48 and Arizona Wilderness have both opened additional locations in the heart of Phoenix, and Pedal Haus will soon follow. Another beermaker, Throne Brewing, has expanded beyond its west side origins by acquiring the old Pizza People Pub, combining the existing food menu with its own beer.

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12 West Brewing

So many stereotypes about downtown Mesa have begun to fade in recent years. The first is  that the city center does not have worthwhile restaurants at all. That misconception has been invalidated as numerous new arrivals have joined a few long established favorites on Main Street. The second is that because of the Mormon influence in Mesa, it is hard to get a drink there. Anyone still clinging to that notion would be surprised that downtown Mesa is not only home to diverse and lively places to eat, but also a growing number of tap rooms and breweries.

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Ingo’s Tasty Food

A decade later than originally planned, an outpost of LGO Hospitality has finally arrived in downtown Phoenix. LGO stands for La Grande Orange, which originated on the east side of Phoenix with its gourmet grocery and pizzeria. A similar operation was planned for the CityScape development when it opened in 2011 but was abandoned at the last minute, ostensibly due to ventilation issues. More than 10 years later, another LGO brand, Ingo’s Tasty Food  has opened across the street from CityScape in the same developer’s Block 23 project.

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Stoop Kid

The simple stoop, a set of steps in front of a row house that can act as a place for impromptu scenes of street life, is a rarity in Phoenix. The most obvious reason is that the city has few row houses to occupy a middle ground between apartment buildings and single family homes. In the absence of that type of architecture, the concept of a stoop can still serve as a symbol for city life. At the Churchill, an outdoor food court and bar built with shipping containers in downtown Phoenix, a tenant called “Stoop Kid” is all about bagels and burgers with an urban vibe.

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Walter Station

In both 2020 and 2021, the annual Burning Man event in Nevada has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The yearly gathering will no doubt eventually return, but even without a densely packed temporary city arising over Labor Day weekend, Burning Man’s cultural impact can be felt in small and subtle ways. On Washington Street on the east side of Phoenix, Walter Station serves beer brewed on site with matching food and a loose connection to Burning Man, firefighting, and nearby Sky Harbor Airport, all in an unlikely combination that somehow works.

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Dog Haus Biergarten

CityScape and other big projects in the core of the downtown Phoenix business district are usually defined first in terms of their anchor tenants, whether a contemporary hotel like the nearby Kimpton Palomar or an essential amenity like the Fry’s grocery at Block 23. In the smaller pockets of these developments, however, are numerous opportunities for more fine-grained retail and restaurant development. One spot at CityScape, a corner space right at the intersection of Central and Washington, has recently become home to Dog Haus Biergarten.

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Little O’s

Over the past decade, the intersection of McDowell Road and Seventh Avenue has become a busy cluster of restaurants. Many of the arrivals have been national or regional chains, leading one local writer to lament a “fast food dump” at the corner, and there have been the inevitable complaints about insufficient parking. It’s therefore refreshing, both figuratively and literally, to see locally owned Little O’s create a place that invites customers to arrive via bicycle if so inclined, quench their thirst with a pint or pitcher of craft beer, and linger for a while.

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M’Olé

Mole, the Mexican sauce often associated with ground chilies, spices, and even sometimes chocolate, can be a complex dish. Secret recipes, tacit knowledge, and a certain amount of improvisation can create the nuance that makes each mole unique. It’s a welcome surprise then that mole is the namesake dish at a simple order-at-the-counter lunch spot on the ground floor of a downtown office tower. The restaurant’s name, M’Olé, is both a nod to the signature sauce and a play on the Spanish interjection used to express approval or celebrate victory.

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