Paz Cantina

Listening to the most pessimistic voices, it would be easy to believe that the long overdue surge in new housing development along the light rail corridor is leading to widespread displacement of small businesses. In actuality, while some independent businesses have closed or moved away, many have found new and often better homes in ground floor retail spaces incorporated into new apartment buildings. That was the story for both Jobot and Forno 301, and now it’s the outcome for Paz Cantina, a Mexican restaurant in the heart of Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row. Continue reading “Paz Cantina”

Provecho

Whether it’s “bon appetit” in France or “guten appetit” in Germany, many cultures have familiar expressions that can be used to start a meal. In Mexico, “buen provecho” fulfills that function. Strangely, there seems to be no equivalent phrase in English, but the increasing diversification of downtown Phoenix’s food options, particularly the recent and long-overdue proliferation of Mexican restaurants that are far less Americanized than in previous decades, provides plenty of opportunity to say the phrase. One restaurant, Provecho, goes so far as to incorporate the wording into its name. Continue reading “Provecho”

Breadwinner

With today’s confusing array of popular diets — paleo this, keto that, and gluten-free everything — it’s refreshing to see that good bread can still be the foundation of a meal. It’s equally invigorating to see an independent sandwich shop open amid all the national chains that have recently occupied that segment of the market. Breadwinner scores victories in both respects, building its sandwiches with the unabashedly glutenous products of local bakery Noble Bread and drawing inspiration from the kitchen of its full-service cousin, EVO in Scottsdale. Continue reading “Breadwinner”

Matt’s Big Breakfast

It’s interesting how even the most adventurous eaters tend to be conservative about breakfast. People who gladly consume foods from outside their own family traditions in the afternoon and evening often revert to familiar dishes like eggs, bacon, pancakes, and waffles in the morning. Matt’s Big Breakfast, having recently expanded from its tiny original site to multiple locations, continues to embrace the familiar but takes the classics to an uncommon level by stressing high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients and a hand-crafted approach to their preparation. Continue reading “Matt’s Big Breakfast”

Trapp Haus BBQ

Barbecue is one of those foods that doesn’t automatically seem at home in an urban environment. In cities that are known for their barbecue culture, the most celebrated restaurants are sometimes found in outlying locations or industrial areas. Part of the challenge of serving barbecue in the city lies in the smoking. Meat scents that may be enticing at lunch or dinner can become overwhelming to those who live or work near a smoker every single day. Even without strong odors, barbecue’s rural roots can make its aesthetics at odds with a downtown setting. Continue reading “Trapp Haus BBQ”

Angels Trumpet Ale House

With so many new breweries and tap houses emerging throughout Downtown Phoenix and adjacent neighborhoods, it’s hard to believe it was once hard to find a wide selection of craft beer in the center of the city. Nevertheless, that was the case as recently as 2012 when Angels Trumpet opened in Evans Churchill. Angels Trumpet is not a brewery, and it’s not really a pub either. It identifies as an alehouse and offers a larger space and beer selection than most pubs. Most importantly, it was a harbinger of an emerging craft beer culture that is now taking hold. Continue reading “Angels Trumpet Ale House”

Taco Chelo

There are few streets in Phoenix that have undergone as rapid a transformation as Fifth Street, specifically the block between Roosevelt and Garfield. The changes aren’t necessarily physical. None of the historic houses has been torn down, but there has been a change in character from a Bohemian block with a DIY feel to a new status that has yet to be fully defined. Where Fifth Street meets Roosevelt, five blocks east of the Roosevelt / Central light rail station, one of the first of the new arrivals is Taco Chelo, part of the Blocks of Roosevelt Row development. Continue reading “Taco Chelo”

Songbird Coffee & Tea House

As the show “Portlandia” wraps up its final season, fans will inevitably look back on favorite moments during the program’s eight-year run. One top contender is likely to be the “Put a Bird on it” sketch in which characters Bryce and Lisa decorate every item imaginable with an avian theme. In the Evans Churchill neighborhood of Phoenix, Songbird Coffee & Tea House has put a bird on the concept of the local coffee house. Differentiating itself while living up to its full name, Songbird puts as much emphasis on tea as it does on coffee and espresso drinks. Continue reading “Songbird Coffee & Tea House”

Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana

Long ago, the only place for pizza in Downtown Phoenix was a lonely Pizza Hut on First Street. The area was so desolate that the chain pizzeria reportedly wouldn’t even deliver to some addresses a few blocks away. That Pizza Hut is still present on First Street, but in recent years, the surrounding neighborhoods have become home to half a dozen high quality pizza restaurants of local origin. One of those, Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana, is situated directly across the street from its franchised counterpart. Continue reading “Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana”

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