State 48 Brewery

There are two explanations for how Surprise, Arizona, got its name. One is that the burgeoning exurb was named for the village of Surprise, Nebraska. Another is that the founder said she’d be surprised if the community ever amounted to anything. Given the growth of Surprise, the city has amounted to something, but it’s only in the last few years that Surprise-based businesses have garnered a reputation elsewhere in the metropolitan area. One of those, State 48 Brewery, has made a journey of over 20 miles via Grand Avenue to open in downtown Phoenix. Continue reading “State 48 Brewery”

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”

Breadwinner

With today’s confusing array of popular diets — paleo this, keto that, and gluten-free everything — it’s refreshing to see that good bread can still be the foundation of a meal. It’s equally invigorating to see an independent sandwich shop open amid all the national chains that have recently occupied that segment of the market. Breadwinner scores victories in both respects, building its sandwiches with the unabashedly glutenous products of local bakery Noble Bread and drawing inspiration from the kitchen of its full-service cousin, EVO in Scottsdale. Continue reading “Breadwinner”

Zookz

There are many different ways to see the distinction between uptown and downtown. Sometimes, it’s a class divide. Billy Joel and countless other songwriters have used the word “uptown” to imply an upscale neighborhood within the city. In other cases, as with the New York City subway system, it’s simply a statement of compass direction with “uptown” meaning north and “downtown” meaning south. In Phoenix, the trains connect the uptown and downtown portions of the city, but many residents remain confused about their boundaries. Continue reading “Zookz”

Daily Jam (formerly NCounter)

For a society supposedly obsessed with brevity and starved for time, we seem to have an unexpected and enduring fascination with word games. Scrabble, the classic, now exists in digital formats for smartphones, tablets, and Facebook. The newer alternative, Words with Friends, provides a similar game with a social component added. Given the widespread enthusiasm for arranging letter tiles on game boards or touch screens, it should not be surprising to see a restaurant, NCounter, using the alphabet as part of its logo and decor. Continue reading “Daily Jam (formerly NCounter)”

be Coffee + Food + Stuff

Restaurant names follow all sorts of trends, and one of the current ones is the use of a conjunction to link two concepts — sometimes with the full word “and,” often with an ampersand, and increasingly with a plus sign. Places with names fitting this format have opened all over in recent years. Now, a coffeehouse on Roosevelt Row takes the trend a few steps beyond with not one, but two plus signs, not to mention irregular capitalization. The shop is called “be Coffee + Food + Stuff,” but for the sake of simplicity, it’s most often referred to as just “be Coffee.” Continue reading “be Coffee + Food + Stuff”

Province Urban Kitchen & Bar

From Canada to China, the word “province” describes a geographical and political division within a country, similar to an American state. There’s another meaning of the plural “provinces” to describe outlying areas of a nation beyond the capital city and financial center. Strictly speaking, neither meaning really applies in the heart of Downtown Phoenix, but the word does fit well with a theme of geographically named hotel restaurants along Van Buren. If the nearby Sheraton has a restaurant named District, why not establish a Province at the Westin just a few blocks away? Continue reading “Province Urban Kitchen & Bar”

Fàme Caffe

In Phoenix, it has never been entirely clear where Midtown ends and Uptown begins. Some might say Indian School Road, where current high-rise development stops, is the boundary. Others could argue the Grand Canal is a more logical divider between the two areas. With both the Midtown and Uptown terms now being stretched beyond historic boundaries, geography buffs can continue to debate the first question. Meanwhile, a restaurant in the gray area between the two zones raises a question of more interest to diners: When does breakfast end and lunch begin? Continue reading “Fàme Caffe”

Worth Takeaway

Far too many of us have endured long business meetings only to be asked what the “takeaway,” meaning the key message or call to action, is supposed to be. If the American usage of  “takeaway” is all business, the British application of the same word is more fun. “Takeaway” there means something similar to what we’d call “takeout” in the United States. Using British terms in American English has become a trend lately, and a new sandwich shop in Downtown Mesa, Worth Takeaway, employs “takeaway” to describe its food, not slideshows from staff meetings. Continue reading “Worth Takeaway”

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