Worth Takeaway

If there were a restaurant well-suited to trying times of pandemic and protest, it might be a place that emphasizes comforting foods familiar to many but still allowing for a little exploration. It might also be a place that plates and packages everything it serves in a way that works equally well for on-site dining or takeout. In downtown Mesa, Worth Takeaway reflects that theme not only in its approach, but even its name. Since its start five years ago, the restaurant has expanded its hours, menu, and space while staying true to the idea of food worth taking away. Continue reading “Worth Takeaway”

Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles

Combining fried poultry with leavened breakfast food has become a trend so widespread that chicken-and-waffles is seen on even normally cautious hotel restaurant menus. Fans debate the dish’s place of origin, most often claimed to be either Baltimore or Los Angeles, and its cultural background, whether Pennsylvania Dutch or soul food. In Phoenix, the chicken-and-waffles pairing has decidedly been influenced by the latter, and Lo-Lo’s has been the restaurant to popularize the combination, even as so many other places have added it to their menus. Continue reading “Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles”

The Duce

The word “deuce” can have so many meanings. Long before Doug Ducey became Treasurer and then Governor of Arizona, the Deuce was an old name for the south end of Phoenix’s downtown. It was often viewed as a notorious place where speakeasies coexisted with warehouses situated along the freight railroad tracks. In fact, the word “produce,” which describes much of what was stored in those warehouses, can be shortened to “duce,” suggesting that proximity to Second Street isn’t the only possible explanation for the name. Continue reading “The Duce”

Lux Central

The boundaries between coffee houses, bars, and restaurants have never been rigid. Many places that specialize in coffee and espresso offer at least a few sandwiches or breakfast items. A few serve wine and beer. Starbucks tried a few years ago to cross the border into evening alcohol and dinner service only to retreat back to its classic model after a short time. While the massive chain may have failed in its attempt to become a bar and restaurant, one local coffee house, Lux Central, has successfully mixed elements of all three identities for nearly a decade. Continue reading “Lux Central”

Monroe’s Hot Chicken

When summer temperatures soar in Phoenix, there are always complaints about the urban heat island effect. The closer to the center of the city one gets, the more it seems the heat lingers after dark. Wherever there are high temperatures, there is often an appreciation for spicy food, so it’s no surprise that the Nashville hot chicken trend has caught on here. Monroe’s Hot Chicken, located at just about the most urban local address imaginable, the Luhrs City Center on Jefferson Street, creates its own heat island right in the heart of downtown Phoenix. Continue reading “Monroe’s Hot Chicken”

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”

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”

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”

The Vig Fillmore (temporarily closed)

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 (temporarily closed)”

Bliss / reBar

The comfort food trend has been around so long that it’s probably no longer accurate to call it a trend at all. Given the economic, social, and political turmoil of the past few decades, it’s a given that even the most adventurous diners will sometimes find solace in familiar foods — ones people remember from childhood, even if the renditions they ate when young weren’t always terribly good. Certain restaurants now exist in most cities primarily to offer updated, versions of home cooking classics, and in Phoenix, Bliss / reBar fits that niche at the north end of Downtown. Continue reading “Bliss / reBar”

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