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”

The Chuckbox

It seems every college campus has to have a burger joint. Ideally, this place should be inexpensive, unpretentious, independently owned, and decades old. The Chuckbox, which serves hamburgers in a location just across University Drive from the ASU Main Campus, meets all of these criteria. The restaurant, which is three blocks from the Veterans Way / College Avenue light rail station, stands nearly alone in a sea of new high-density construction as a throwback to another era when most Tempe restaurants occupied freestanding structures and Western kitsch was still fashionable decor.

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Pizza People Pub

With the current building boom, some corners in Phoenix are seeing a new wave of change after decades of inactivity. The area around Central and McDowell, long defined by the the Phoenix Art Museum and the Burton Barr Central Library, is now home to new apartments filling long-vacant lots. With all that change, businesses have come and gone. One neighborhood restaurant, Pizza People Pub, has done both within the same year — briefly closing and then reopening shortly after under new ownership but with essentially the same menu. Continue reading “Pizza People Pub”

Haven Burgers

After half a year spent behind fences, Mesa’s Pioneer Park has finally reopened after nearly $8 million dollars of renovations. The new look combines modern play structures, a splash pad, and artistic light features while retaining the park’s mature trees and a refurbished Engine 2355, the vintage Southern Pacific steam locomotive that has been on display for over half a century. With all the improvements to the park, it’s easy to work up an appetite. With that in mind, it’s useful to have Haven Burgers located across the street from the park’s eastern edge. Continue reading “Haven Burgers”

Cocina 10

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”

Dust Cutter

John Adams, the nation’s second president, is sometimes seen as a forgotten founding father. His position between the more widely-known presidencies of Washington and Jefferson has left no monument or currency bearing his likeness. In Phoenix, the street named for Adams has until recently been equally overlooked. That has changed with improvements along Adams, undertaken by the city in conjunction with the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel, which has undergone some changes of its own, including a new bar and restaurant known as Dust Cutter. Continue reading “Dust Cutter”

The Dressing Room

Have we reached peak food truck? That’s a question various culinary pundits have been asking for the past few years. Locally, the popular Food Truck Friday event at the Phoenix Public Market was quietly discontinued last year. If food trucks don’t seem quite the craze they were a few years ago, maybe it’s because some aspects of their approach have found their way indoors with small-scale restaurants now serving the type of fare normally associated with mobile operations. The Dressing Room, a self-proclaimed “micro-restaurant” on Roosevelt Row, fits this description. Continue reading “The Dressing Room”

Lenny’s Burger

Long before light rail traveled up and down Central Avenue through the high-rise business district now known as Midtown, that stretch of the city’s spine was known for its cruising culture. Of course, cruising meant not only showing off cars and socializing, but also stopping for sustenance. The foods historically associated with cruising have been burgers, fries, and shakes. While cruising now occurs only as part of occasional special events, some semblance of the old cruising culture endures at Lenny’s Burger, a retro-themed hamburger restaurant in the heart of Midtown. Continue reading “Lenny’s Burger”

Ocotillo

Almost every Phoenician has had some exposure to ocotillo, the desert shrub (technically not a cactus) known for its numerous spiny stalks that tower up to 20 feet high. The plant is a frequent component of local home xeriscapes, and specimens can be seen on any hike in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. In spring, vibrant red flowers appear at the end of each of its protuberances. With myriad branches growing in every direction but all leading to gorgeous blossoms, the ocotillo plant is an apt metaphor for a new restaurant in Midtown Phoenix that bears its name. Continue reading “Ocotillo”

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