Huss Brewing Downtown

Originally part of a 1970s urban renewal project known as Phoenix Civic Plaza, the city’s convention center has grown over decades to fill multiple city blocks in the downtown business district. Like most convention centers, it can be lively during major events. At slower times, it presents blank walls and locked doors to the street, diminishing the vitality of the surrounding area. Knowing what a mixed impact convention centers can have on the urban fabric, the Phoenix Convention Center has partnered with Huss Brewing to enhance its street presence.

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Metro BurgerZ

Whether it’s arbitrarily calling young people born between certain years “Generation Z” or enjoying the zombie apocalypse depicted in the “Z Nation” franchise, the letter Z seems to be gaining greater currency than its status at the end of the alphabet might suggest. A burger joint at the Collier Center in downtown Phoenix has recently jumped on board the Z bandwagon with the name “Metro BurgerZ,” a reflection of the restaurant’s urban location, its primary menu item, and, of course, a capital Z in place of a regular S to signify a plural word just for fun.

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Kahvi

The distance between Finland and Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula is nearly 6,000 miles, and neither place is particularly close to Phoenix. In terms of culture and climate, the three locations are also about as different as possible. That doesn’t stop them all from coming together in the Monorchid building at the north end of downtown Phoenix. Kahvi, a new coffee house named for the Finnish word for “coffee”, brings together a Nordic concept of cafe culture; a tropical theme associated with the beaches of Tulum, Mexico; and the steady development of Roosevelt Row.

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Throne Brewing & Pizza Kitchen

With the current brewery boom, craft beer producers have sprouted in nearly all corners of the  Phoenix Metro Area. After becoming established in their places of origin, a next step for many is to create a presence in or near downtown Phoenix with a taproom or pub. State 48 and Arizona Wilderness have both opened additional locations in the heart of Phoenix, and Pedal Haus will soon follow. Another beermaker, Throne Brewing, has expanded beyond its west side origins by acquiring the old Pizza People Pub, combining the existing food menu with its own beer.

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Ingo’s Tasty Food

A decade later than originally planned, an outpost of LGO Hospitality has finally arrived in downtown Phoenix. LGO stands for La Grande Orange, which originated on the east side of Phoenix with its gourmet grocery and pizzeria. A similar operation was planned for the CityScape development when it opened in 2011 but was abandoned at the last minute, ostensibly due to ventilation issues. More than 10 years later, another LGO brand, Ingo’s Tasty Food  has opened across the street from CityScape in the same developer’s Block 23 project.

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Zookz

The food-obsessed sometimes debate the exact definition of a sandwich, and one facet of the discussion is the food’s shape. A typical sandwich is square-ish or maybe elliptical if rye bread is involved. Others can be more cylindrical if created with a baguette, and a sandwich built upon a bun can often be nearly a sphere. A round sandwich, shaped like a disc, is less common, but Zookz, a shop at Uptown Plaza, the recently renovated mid-century shopping center at Central and Camelback in Phoenix, has created its own brand identity around circular sandwiches.

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Little O’s

Over the past decade, the intersection of McDowell Road and Seventh Avenue has become a busy cluster of restaurants. Many of the arrivals have been national or regional chains, leading one local writer to lament a “fast food dump” at the corner, and there have been the inevitable complaints about insufficient parking. It’s therefore refreshing, both figuratively and literally, to see locally owned Little O’s create a place that invites customers to arrive via bicycle if so inclined, quench their thirst with a pint or pitcher of craft beer, and linger for a while.

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Spoonz

For many years, the downtown Phoenix menu seemed to be weekday lunches with a side of breakfast. So many establishments catered to employees of nearby office towers but saw little reason to stay open nights and weekends. Of course, that has all changed with new apartments and entertainment options in the city, and many of those lunch-only establishments have closed. The pandemic has added another challenge with so many people working from home, so it’s fascinating to see Spoonz, a sandwich and salad shop still operating on the office lunch model.

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Barrel & Bushel

There comes a time in every hotel’s life when it’s time for renovations. In downtown Phoenix, the Hyatt Regency has been a mainstay of the city’s convention business since its opening in the 1970s. Its construction was part of a wave of urban renewal also responsible for Symphony Hall and the original convention center buildings. With the convention center much larger now and designs from over four decades ago looking dated, the Hyatt’s latest round of improvements are welcome, and the hotel’s ground-floor restaurant and bar has been one of the visible priorities. Continue reading “Barrel & Bushel”

Windsor

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”

Desert Roots Kitchen

Desert plants are often known for having shallow roots, which are better for quickly absorbing water during brief storms followed by quick evaporation. In Downtown Tempe, a restaurant aptly named Desert Roots Kitchen has displayed some unexpectedly deep roots, operating with essentially the same approach for over six years and building upon the traditions of an even longer lasting restaurant, In Season Deli, that came before it at the same location. These roots continue to grow just a block-and-a-half south of the Mill Avenue / Third Street light rail station. Continue reading “Desert Roots Kitchen”

Joe’s Philly Steak & More

It’s been less than a week since just over 100 million viewers saw the Philadelphia Eagles win their first Super Bowl. In the City of Brotherly Love, that victory was met with a mix of civic pride, a celebratory parade, and, unfortunately, some rioting and looting. On the other side of the country, distant from both teams involved, a celebration can be as simple as enjoying a signature Philadelphia food, the cheesesteak. On the north side of central Phoenix, Joe’s Philly Steak & More offers a simple venue for a classic sandwich no matter who is winning what sport. Continue reading “Joe’s Philly Steak & More”

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