Foxy Fruit

The word “foxy” most often implies cleverness or attractiveness in a person. There’s a less known definition that applies to a fruit flavor, sometimes in reference to wine appreciation. At the Churchill, the shipping container food court and outdoor bar in downtown Phoenix, a tenant named Foxy Fruit doesn’t pour wine, but it does offer intensely fruity concoctions as part of its entirely vegan menu. It’s a stall where those conscious about health trends might enjoy a full meal, but even Churchill visitors with other tastes can find a snack, breakfast, or dessert.

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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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IL Bosco

There’s an overused and sometimes misunderstood metaphor about not being able to see the forest for the trees. Seinfeld character Elaine Benes probably summarized the unspoken reaction of many people when she said “Yeah, I don’t know what that means.” On Fifth Street in the Evans-Churchill neighborhood just north of downtown Phoenix, there are a few trees lining the sidewalks, and now there’s IL Bosco, Italian for the forest, a new pizzeria that takes its name from both the original owner’s surname and the use of a wood-burning oven to produce its pies.

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Taco Boys

How far is the average diner willing to walk for a really good taco? It depends on a lot of factors, including ability, weather, and the character of the neighborhood. Half a mile is generally considered the upper limit of walking distance around a transit station, assuming a favorable environment. At the east end of Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row, Taco Boys has been offering carne asada and other Mexican specialties good enough to justify a half-mile trek from the Roosevelt/Central light rail station.

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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.

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Hot Daisy Pizza

Besides being rich in carbohydrates, cake and pizza have something else in common: They both typically need to be sliced to be enjoyed. On Roosevelt Row at the north end of downtown Phoenix, Tammie Coe has been baking and slicing for over a decade-and-a-half. What has changed, though, is the transformation of the space from retail bakery to pizza slice shop. With the closure of the old Tammie Coe cake shop in the Artisan Village development, there followed a transformation of the storefront into Hot Daisy Pizza, a casual place for slices on the go.

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The Farish House

It’s hard to believe that just a few decades ago, any “big city” restaurant lineup would always include at least one fancy French restaurant. Today, French food seems harder to come by in America. Maybe it’s because we’ve turned our attention to non-European cuisines that reflect our nation’s diversity, or maybe it’s a reaction to stereotypes of French restaurants as fusty and formal establishments. The reality, however, is that modern French food can be more casual and light than cliches would suggest, making it well-suited to contemporary dining trends. Continue reading “The Farish House”

Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company

Cities are often stereotyped as environmental problems, full of pollution and development that negates the natural world. Properly managed, however, urban centers can actually be part of an environmental solution. By consolidating people in a more efficient manner and sparing the wilderness on the outskirts the pressure of development, cities can complement natural lands. One recent arrival in downtown Phoenix, Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company, seems to realize that its own wilderness ethos is compatible with an urban location on Roosevelt Row. Continue reading “Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company”

Freak Brothers Pizza

The path from food truck to fixed location is not always a clear one. Some establishments have made a successful transition to a permanent address that has served them well for many years. Others have had to retrench, change ownership, or even close entirely after a difficult transition from a mobile operation to a full-fledged restaurant. One food truck, Freak Brothers Pizza, has chosen to make the transition a gradual one by not opening its own standalone restaurant, but instead operating inside the Churchill, the shipping container project near Roosevelt Row. Continue reading “Freak Brothers Pizza”

Melt

With our warm climate and enthusiasm for spicy food, Phoenix should have dozens of good ice cream shops. Unfortunately, these stores are scarcer than they should be. Maybe because it’s sometimes just too much trouble to travel to yet another destination for dessert. It’s therefore fitting that when independent ice cream outposts flourish, it’s often in walkable areas that allow effortless combination of a meal at one place with a stop for a cold treat a block or two away. Melt, a cart parked outside of the Jobot coffee house on Roosevelt Row, fits that description. Continue reading “Melt”

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”

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”

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