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”

Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana

Long ago, the only place for pizza in Downtown Phoenix was a lonely Pizza Hut on First Street. The area was so desolate that the chain pizzeria reportedly wouldn’t even deliver to some addresses a few blocks away. That Pizza Hut is still present on First Street, but in recent years, the surrounding neighborhoods have become home to half a dozen high quality pizza restaurants of local origin. One of those, Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana, is situated directly across the street from its franchised counterpart. Continue reading “Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana”

Carly’s Bistro

The transformation of Roosevelt Row over the past decade seems a lot like a three-act play. In the first act, small businesses and art galleries pioneered in a neglected area and adapted neglected vintage buildings. In the second act, the district received attention and recognition from city government, resulting in a streetscape project that added bike lanes and widened sidewalks to create opportunities for patio dining. Carly’s Bistro has not only survived but improved during the first two acts. Now, it’s only logical to wonder what will happen in the third act. Continue reading “Carly’s Bistro”

Jobot

There’s been a lot of change on Roosevelt Row lately, and not everyone is happy about it. Although a new wave of construction has realized dreams of residential density near transit, there has been a resistance of sorts, based on perceptions of gentrification and a desire to preserve old buildings scattered amid vacant lots. A frequent gathering place for this resistance was Jobot, the coffee house and cafe formerly on Fifth Street. When a rent dispute caused Jobot to vacate its home at the end of 2016, there was even more outcry over the rapid transformation of the area. Continue reading “Jobot”

MATCH Cuisine & Cocktails

At the southern edge of Hance Park, a mid-rise building formerly known as the Lexington Hotel has spent most its history as a boring beige box. The property was occasionally redeemed, however, by some unexpected bursts of brilliance from its restaurant. When the hotel was a Best Western, the kitchen served standard American fare but had a secret Indian menu available to those savvy enough to request it. Later, it became home to Cycle, a series of pop-up engagements in which its kitchen was taken over by a changing cast of local chefs. Continue reading “MATCH Cuisine & Cocktails”

Moira Sushi Bar & Kitchen

The word “Moira,” at least as a given name for a person, is derived from a Greek word meaning “fate” or “destiny.” It’s not clear if Moira Sushi Bar and Kitchen, a Japanese restaurant in the Evans Churchill neighborhood of Downtown Phoenix, has any link to that Mediterranean lineage. Nevertheless, the name is fitting because Moira has been a harbinger of what is now occurring all around it. When the restaurant opened in 2009, it felt lonely, occupying the ground floor of the 215 East McKinley condominium building with vacant lots on surrounding blocks in every direction. Continue reading “Moira Sushi Bar & Kitchen”

SoSoBa

One of the most interesting food scenes in Arizona isn’t anywhere in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. It’s nearly 150 miles to the north of the state capital in Flagstaff. The mountain city of just over 70,000 people has recently garnered culinary respect for its homegrown restaurants and local purveyors. Beyond favorable media coverage and social media chatter, there’s one important indicator of Flagstaff’s gastronomic success — one of the city’s eateries branching out to open a second location in the much larger and more competitive Phoenix market. Continue reading “SoSoBa”

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”

Pita Jungle

Two decades is a long time to stay in one place. It was over 20 years ago that the first Pita Jungle opened in a little strip mall in Tempe. More than two decades later, the restaurant has become a regional chain with over a dozen locations in Arizona and a few more in California. With expansion, Pita Jungle has finally outgrown and moved out of its original storefront location. It remains in Tempe, though, with a new site close to the Mill Avenue / Third Street light rail station. The restaurant’s other urban location is near the Roosevelt / Central light rail station in Phoenix. Continue reading “Pita Jungle”

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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