Thai Basil (Park Central)

Recent headlines have lamented the closure of MetroCenter, once the largest mall in the Southwest. Long before MetroCenter’s rise and eventual fall, Phoenix saw the development of its first mall: Park Central. In the heart of the area now known as Midtown, Park Central’s development in the 1950s was the first step in retail’s departure from the traditional downtown business district three miles south. Of course, Park Central, like most malls, has faded as a shopping destination, but it is now finally re-emerging as an office and health care cluster. Continue reading “Thai Basil (Park Central)”

Switch

The origin of a restaurant’s name isn’t always obvious, but sometimes after a while the name takes on a life of its own. In Midtown Phoenix, the restaurant named Switch has recently undergone a major switch of its own — a switch from being under the umbrella of the same group behind Fez and Bliss to its new identity as an independent chef-owned restaurant. After about a decade of continuous operation, Switch is now firmly under the control of chef Jason Peterson, who ran the kitchen for many years before recently acquiring the restaurant itself. Continue reading “Switch”

Southern Rail

For over a century, the Sunset Limited, the legendary passenger train that runs from Los Angeles to New Orleans, stopped in Phoenix on its way across the southern tier of the country. That particular train now passes through Maricopa, 35 miles to the south, leaving Phoenix without intercity passenger rail. Despite that unfortunate development, it’s comforting that a restaurant, appropriately named Southern Rail, brings a bit of cooking from New Orleans and the South to Uptown Phoenix, just a block from the Central / Camelback light rail station. Continue reading “Southern Rail”

Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Cafe

Just east of Downtown, between Heritage Square and Eastlake Park, lies a changing area of Phoenix. Part of the Azteca Plaza shopping center has been demolished, and several new apartment buildings are under construction or recently completed. Amid these developments, there are some aspects of the neighborhood that remain much the same as they have been for decades. Two historic churches, Immaculate Heart and Tanner Chapel AME, are landmarks in the area, and in between them lies Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Cafe, a half-century-old restaurant. Continue reading “Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Cafe”

Nocawich (temporarily closed)

It’s fashionable for cities to have neighborhoods identified by two syllable nicknames. The classic example is SoHo (for “south of Houston Street”) in New York. Here in Phoenix, local versions such as RoRo (Roosevelt Row) and CenPho (Central Phoenix) have met with a mixture of acceptance and derision. One local full service restaurant, Noca, embraced this trend for several years with a name that reflected its location just north of Camelback Road. The original Noca has been closed since 2014, but its legacy endures in a casual sandwich shop known as Nocawich. Continue reading “Nocawich (temporarily closed)”

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