The Stockyards

Students of Arizona history have no doubt encountered the concept of the five C’s: copper, cattle, cotton, citrus, and climate. These items were traditionally viewed as the pillars of the state’s economy. Their relevance has changed somewhat over the years. It might be argued that call centers and credit cards are more relevant C’s today, and climate may become more negative than positive if the worst predictions come true. Nevertheless, the five C’s are worth remembering. On the east side of Phoenix, the Stockyards is a reminder of the role of one of those C’s, cattle. Continue reading “The Stockyards”

Rula Bula

On Mill Avenue, so many businesses have come and gone in recent years that an Irish pub nearly two decades old now seems like a veteran of that street’s fast-changing landscape of dining and nightlife. Of course, 20 years or so is nothing compared to the age of many pubs actually located in Ireland, and it’s also a short time compared to the age of the historic Andre building, where the pub in question, Rula Bula, occupies two side-by-side storefronts just a block south of the Mill Avenue / Third Street light rail station in the heart of Downtown Tempe. Continue reading “Rula Bula”

Centrico

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”

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”

The Vig Fillmore

The first lesson Phoenicians should learn about local geography is that numbered streets are on the east side of the city and that avenues are on the west side. The second lesson might be that if a street has a presidential name, it runs east-west through downtown. The Vig Fillmore, a central location for a small, locally-based group of restaurants, combine both lessons into one. Its site, the historic Cavness House, has an address on Fourth Avenue but the restaurant takes its name from the intersecting street named for antebellum one-termer Millard Fillmore. Continue reading “The Vig Fillmore”

Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour

A saying attributed to the activist and author Jane Jacobs is that “new ideas need old buildings.” If that’s true, then the 1924 Luhrs Building seems like an ideal incubator for innovation. Among the Luhrs office tenants, that means various start-up firms. On the culinary front, the main attraction on the ground floor of the Luhrs Building is Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour. Cocktails are of course an old concept, but their revival is a contemporary trend, especially when the beverages are paired with Asian-inspired bar food of equivalent quality. Continue reading “Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour”

Nook Kitchen

For one historic building in Downtown Phoenix, it has taken over a decade to arrive at happy ending. The Professional Building, formerly the headquarters of Valley National Bank and home to several floors of medical offices, languished for years in a state of disrepair without tenants or a clear future. After a false start derailed by the collapse of Mortgages Ltd., the 12-story Art Deco tower has finally been reborn as a Hilton Garden Inn hotel, and its ground-floor restaurant on the corner of Monroe and Central Avenue is known as Nook Kitchen, or just Nook for short. Continue reading “Nook Kitchen”

Cibo

As new construction blossoms in Downtown Phoenix after years of delays, one of the details debated about various projects is the role of ground floor retail. Having shops or restaurants located below residences promotes a variety of uses in the pursuit of urban vitality. At the same time, adding more space than the market can bear can lead to the blight of empty storefronts. As recently as a decade ago, however, Phoenix wasn’t having this discussion because there was so little new construction that old houses were often the only space available for new businesses. Continue reading “Cibo”

Lola Coffee

With so much new development occurring along Roosevelt Row, it’s nice to be reminded of the value of long-standing buildings that have somehow survived decades of neglect and the demolition of their neighbors. One of those is the Gold Spot, officially known when it opened in 1925 as the Gold Spot Marketing Center. This building, originally used as a grocery and shopping center in what was then considered a far-flung suburb, now functions as space for neighborhood businesses, including something that nearly every neighborhood needs: a coffee house. Continue reading “Lola Coffee”

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