Alexi’s Grill

Midtown Phoenix, the linear business district defined by 20-story office towers set back from the street with big parking garages, is beginning to change. New residential projects are filling in some of the gaps between the business high-rises, and in a few cases existing businesses and even houses are giving way to new development. Enhancements to pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure continue as part of the Reinvent Phoenix vision. Alexi’s Grill, popular in Midtown for over two decades, seems to stay much the same even as the neighborhood is transformed. Continue reading “Alexi’s Grill”

Noodle Bar

Whether it’s technology like a smartphone or an entertainment franchise like Star Trek, there are times when the best fix is a reboot. Sometimes the decision to shut down and come back after changes occurs after years or decades of existence. In the case of Noodle Bar, the reboot came after less than a year of operation. After a shaky start as two separate fast-casual restaurants — one Japanese and Italian — in a small food court arrangement, a recent reboot has led to the creation of a single restaurant devoted to noodles from both nations in a full-service dining room. Continue reading “Noodle Bar”

Mancuso’s

The Collier Center might be considered the middle child of big mixed use projects in Downtown Phoenix. It came along just over a decade after the Arizona Center, and about the same length of time before CityScape. As with human middle children, the development is sometimes overlooked and its best attributes hidden. The Collier Center’s prime restaurant space is located off the street on the second floor. If that architectural decision seems a mistake, it’s encouraging the obscure location is now occupied by Mancuso’s, a restaurant with prior experience at another hidden site. Continue reading “Mancuso’s”

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”

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”

The Strand

Updated March 30, 2012: The Strand has recently become a full service restaurant and has updated its decor and menu.

Late last year, Downtown Phoenix enthusiasts got just a little excited when there was speculation about an urban Target store coming to the vacant lot, now underutilized as surface parking, between the Collier Center and CityScape. For now, it appears the buzz was just that — a sort of wish list item not associated with any concrete plans. Still, if there’s a prospect of a big red store in the downtown core, new Italian restaurant the Strand seems to have gotten a head start with its own all-red color scheme.

exterior from First Street

Continue reading “The Strand”

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