Gus’s Fried Chicken

One of the biggest food trends of the past few years has been Nashville hot chicken, fried poultry with a spicy coating. Now that so many local restaurants offer that Tennessee treat, it’s worth thinking about that state’s other major city. Memphis, with just about the same population as Nashville, offers its own culture and traditions 200 miles to the west. While the cities differ in music, with Memphis being known for the blues and Nashville for country, they both share a fondness for fried chicken, and Gus’s is bringing its food to territory beyond its Memphis base.

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Tacos Chiwas

Although it’s the largest Mexican state in terms of land area, Chihuahua doesn’t quite touch Arizona. There are about 17 miles of New Mexico that separate the southeastern corner of Arizona from the nearly neighboring state south of the border. For that reason, Sonoran influence is felt more readily in Phoenix. Nevertheless, Chihuahua’s distinctiveness, including its food culture, should not be ignored. Tacos Chiwas, owned and operated by a married pair of restaurant partners with origins in Chihuahua, brings some of those traditions to Arizona.

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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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Novel Ice Cream

The word “novel” means not only a book of fiction, but also innovative or new. Sometimes, that meaning can be negative, as with the novel coronavirus that has caused disease, death, and disruption, but more often it has a positive connotation. In downtown Mesa, Novel Ice Cream celebrates all that is good about being novel with its innovative approach to ice cream, sorbet, and creations made from those frozen treats. Novel began on Grand Avenue in Phoenix, where it still operates. The newer store in Mesa is just two blocks from the Center/Main light rail station.

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Myke’s Pizza

As restaurants struggle to remain in operation while complying with public health directives, many have found themselves expanding into the sidewalk and even the street with enlarged outdoor dining areas. Downtown Mesa has embraced this trend, allowing places to use more exterior space than ever before, one adaptation to the virus that might be worth making permanent. As so many restaurants move outside, there’s one, Myke’s Pizza, that was actually born outdoors on Main Street before migrating to a home inside another business, Cider Corps.

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Worth Takeaway

If there were a restaurant well-suited to trying times of pandemic and protest, it might be a place that emphasizes comforting foods familiar to many but still allowing for a little exploration. It might also be a place that plates and packages everything it serves in a way that works equally well for on-site dining or takeout. In downtown Mesa, Worth Takeaway reflects that theme not only in its approach, but even its name. Since its start five years ago, the restaurant has expanded its hours, menu, and space while staying true to the idea of food worth taking away. Continue reading “Worth Takeaway”

Mangos Mexican Cafe

Downtown Mesa has become a center for public art in recent years. The blocks on and around Main Street have been occupied at various times by colorful pianos for anyone to play, DIY prototypes on a large scale, giant inflatable figures in prominent places, and recurring art festivals. With all that art around, it’s helpful to have a place to eat, especially one with a central location and sidewalk patio.  While a few new restaurants have arrived to offer expanded choices, one of Mesa’s downtown diehards continues to be Mango’s Mexican Cafe.

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Nunthaporn’s Thai Cuisine

After years of delayed hopes, Mesa’s small but charming downtown is beginning to see a wave of new development. Co+Hoots, the Phoenix-based coworking space, is on the way, and one proposal envisions a 15-story tower on a site currently used for parking. Close to all the action sits one long-running Downtown Mesa restaurant, Nunthaporn’s Thai Cuisine. Nunthaporn’s, which takes it names from founder Nunthaporn Treekamol, is growing as well with the recent addition of a second dining room to complement the restaurant’s original shoebox-style space. Continue reading “Nunthaporn’s Thai Cuisine”

Republica Empanada

There a lot of things that even many locals don’t know about Mesa. One is that the city is home not only to a large population of Mexican heritage, but also to a significant presence of people with origins elsewhere in Latin America. That’s why Mesa has been home over the years to restaurants serving underappreciated cuisines such as Peruvian and Guatemalan. The newest addition is Republica Empanada, which serves the stuffed specialities of Central America, specifically Costa Rica, along with a few dishes originating in the interior of Mexico. Continue reading “Republica Empanada”

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