The intersection of Central Avenue and Camelback Road is an unusual crossroads. The immediate area is undermined by a big vacant lot on the southwest corner and the congestion-causing Dutch Bros. drive-thru on the northwest. Across the street, it’s a little better an an office building is converted to residential and new merchants fill the few remaining spaces at the recently renovated Uptown Plaza. Still, some of Uptown’s most attractive elements are found not right where Central and Camelback meet, but instead a few blocks in each direction. Continue reading “Windsor”
With medical marijuana dispensaries continuing to proliferate, a restaurant called “the Munchies” might sound like a place dedicated to a certain “herb.” Actually, the name is more a reference to a late closing time (3:00 AM every day) than any controlled substance, and the Munchies Cafe is a straightforward Middle Eastern and Greek quick service restaurant in the heart of Downtown Tempe. Look for the Munchies on the short cul-de-sac of Sixth Street that extends east from Mill Avenue, three blocks south of the Mill Avenue / Third Street light rail station. Continue reading “The Munchies Cafe”
On July 5, 2011, Phoenix was enveloped in a moving wall of dust so monstrous that the news media started using the Arabic word “haboob” to describe it. Since then, the borrowed word has been used, perhaps overused, for describing garden variety dust storms. On Apache Boulevard, another bit of wording from the Middle East, “haji-baba,” long used in literature and movies, is also the name of one of the area’s longest established restaurants. Tempe’s Haji-Baba has endured since the ‘80s in a strip mall a quarter mile east of the Dorsey / Apache light rail station. Continue reading “Haji-Baba”
Iran has been in the news a lot lately. From the agreement intended to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons to the re-election of the current president, there have been plenty of headlines about political intrigue within the Islamic theocracy that has dominated the country since 1979. A more enduring heritage is found, however, in the culture of Persia, the ancient, storied civilization that flourished long before today’s controversies. Persian food, underappreciated in the United States, flourishes at Tasty Kabob, located along the Apache Boulevard “Spice Trail” in Tempe. Continue reading “Tasty Kabob”
In just a few weeks, the holy month of Ramadan observed by Islamic populations around the world begins. For Muslims, Ramadan requires fasting during daylight hours in order to concentrate on prayer and self-improvement. For the majority of Phoenix Metro Area residents who don’t practice that faith, however, meals go on as scheduled — even at a restaurant located right next door to a mosque. Anyone at any time of year can experience Middle Eastern foods at Phoenicia Cafe, which is part of the same complex as Tempe’s Islamic Community Center on Forest Avenue.
How many Americans can tell the difference between Ethiopia and Eritrea? How about Somalia and Somaliland? The Horn of Africa is a challenging region for outsiders to understand. Years of conflict have created deep rivalries and, in some cases, de facto states existing side-by-side with ineffectual national governments. If you’re not up to solving all of the area’s problems, you can at least enjoy a blend of its culinary traditions at Juba, a restaurant with a menu that combines the foods of Ethiopia, Somalia, and other countries near the Red Sea.
|messob, injera, and sambusa|
The corner, a simple geometric concept, has always been larger than life in popular culture. In “Down on the Corner,” Creedence Clearwater Revival sang about playing at an intersection for spare change. A few years later, Barbra Streisand compared memories to the “corners of my mind.” On streets throughout the region, so many corners look the same that an irregular one is interesting in itself. In Tempe, the literally off-the-grid intersection of Terrace and Apache is home to Curry Corner, a Pakistani restaurant that incorporates its location into its name.