Anyone familiar with downtown Phoenix knows the presidential streets that run east-west within the city core. The northernmost is Roosevelt, well known for the arts district transformed into a corridor of new apartment buildings. The southernmost presidential street, however, is not as well known. It’s named for Ulysses Grant, the commander of Union forces during the Civil War and the nation’s 18th president. Just south of Downtown and the Warehouse District lies not only Grant Street, but also Grant Park, which is both a recreational facility and a neighborhood. Continue reading “El Portal”
“When your chips are down / When your highs are low / Joy ride.” Those words are the refrain of a Killers song from the last decade. The lyrics might refer to chips in terms of a poker metaphor, but there are plenty of chips of another kind to be found at Joyride Taco House, one of a cluster of Upward Projects restaurants located three blocks north of the Central / Camelback light rail station in Uptown Phoenix. Joyride is first restaurant under the Upward umbrella and in the immediate area to serve Mexican, or at least Mexican-influenced, food. Continue reading “Joyride Taco House”
From gringo-safe chains to hole-in-the wall taquerias, the streets of Phoenix are lined with Mexican restaurants — except much of that food had traditionally been more “border” than “south of the border.” In other words, many local favorites serve Sonoran food, associated with Arizona and the Mexican state of Sonora directly below it on the map. In recent years, migrations from other regions of Mexico have diversified the food choices in Phoenix, but it’s important not to forget restaurants that offered Mexican beyond Sonoran long before it was fashionable to do so. Continue reading “Pepe’s Taco Villa”
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”
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.
During the contentious 2016 presidential campaign, one of the more memorable phrases was the warning that immigration from Mexico might result in “taco trucks on every corner.” Of course, not everyone thought that would necessarily be a bad outcome. In Downtown Phoenix, we’re a long way from ubiquitous taco trucks, but one taco “joint,” specifically Willie’s Taco Joint, is thriving at the corner of Third Street and Jefferson — not in a truck but instead in a retail space on the ground level of a parking garage situated just behind the eastbound light rail platform.
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”
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”
In Phoenix, it has never been entirely clear where Midtown ends and Uptown begins. Some might say Indian School Road, where current high-rise development stops, is the boundary. Others could argue the Grand Canal is a more logical divider between the two areas. With both the Midtown and Uptown terms now being stretched beyond historic boundaries, geography buffs can continue to debate the first question. Meanwhile, a restaurant in the gray area between the two zones raises a question of more interest to diners: When does breakfast end and lunch begin? Continue reading “Fàme Caffe”