Centrico

It’s hard to believe, but as recently as a few years ago, it was hard to find a good taco, or any taco at all, in the core downtown business district of Phoenix. Business travelers and convention attendees expected the Southwest’s largest city to offer at least somewhat authentic Mexican food within walking distance of their hotels. Instead, they were directed to options that might be near downtown but not within the walkable core of the city. That sorry state of affairs has begun to change with the recent opening of several new Mexican restaurants, including Centrico. Continue reading “Centrico”

Mangos Mexican Cafe

Downtown Mesa has become a center for public art in recent years. The blocks on and around Main Street have been occupied at various times by colorful pianos for anyone to play, DIY prototypes on a large scale, giant inflatable figures in prominent places, and recurring art festivals. With all that art around, it’s helpful to have a place to eat, especially one with a central location and sidewalk patio.  While a few new restaurants have arrived to offer expanded choices, one of Mesa’s downtown diehards continues to be Mango’s Mexican Cafe.

Continue reading “Mangos Mexican Cafe”

Taco Chelo

There are few streets in Phoenix that have undergone as rapid a transformation as Fifth Street, specifically the block between Roosevelt and Garfield. The changes aren’t necessarily physical. None of the historic houses has been torn down, but there has been a change in character from a Bohemian block with a DIY feel to a new status that has yet to be fully defined. Where Fifth Street meets Roosevelt, five blocks east of the Roosevelt / Central light rail station, one of the first of the new arrivals is Taco Chelo, part of the Blocks of Roosevelt Row development. Continue reading “Taco Chelo”

Speedy Street Tacos

Street tacos have become a trend in recent years, even when the tacos are served in a distinctly non-street environment with a higher-than-street price. While it’s no longer uncommon to see tiny tacos at a fast food chain or a trendy restaurant, it’s refreshing when a place stays closer to the informal origins of the street taco concept. Speedy Street Tacos is as casual as can be imagined, but its simple menu of chicken and beef tacos, along with burritos and quesadillas, is satisfying. Even better, it’s one of the few non-chain taquerias open 24/7. Continue reading “Speedy Street Tacos”

Willie’s Taco Joint

During the contentious 2016 presidential campaign, one of the more memorable phrases was the warning that immigration from Mexico might result in “taco trucks on every corner.” Of course, not everyone thought that would necessarily be a bad outcome. In Downtown Phoenix, we’re a long way from ubiquitous taco trucks, but one taco “joint,” specifically Willie’s Taco Joint, is thriving at the corner of Third Street and Jefferson — not in a truck but instead in a retail space on the ground level of a parking garage situated just behind the eastbound light rail platform. Continue reading “Willie’s Taco Joint”

Cocina 10

More often than ever before, music and food seem to go together. It’s not just about playlists that set the mood for a dining room. It’s about recording artists like James Murphy, formerly of LCD Soundsystem, opening a wine bar in New York. It’s about food-centric writing such as the Guardian columns penned by Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, later published as a book entitled Sound Bites. In Phoenix, a favorite live music venue, the Crescent Ballroom, has responded to the trend in its own way by creating Cocina 10, a lounge and restaurant that goes beyond the minimal grub offered at most concert halls. Continue reading “Cocina 10”

Canyon Cafe

Anyone visiting the Arizona Center recently may have noticed some renovations going on at the development. Some of the changes are significant changes to the complex’s look, even if they fail to completely remediate the center’s major shortcoming: its inward focus and lack of street presence. Still, new owners are investing in the property and trying to give it a viable future with a fresh look and promises to add a hotel and housing. Amid all this change, one of the few survivors of the original tenant mix, Canyon Cafe, endures in one of the Arizona Center’s prime spots. Continue reading “Canyon Cafe”

Guacamole’s Fresh Mexican Grill

It’s hard to believe it today, but McDowell Road was once known as Phoenix’s “Miracle Mile.” The arterial street was home to the first major shopping district outside of Downtown Phoenix. Of course, many contemporary observers might actually think McDowell is within Downtown. It’s not, and it’s late to some of the revitalization that has taken place a mile to the south. Nevertheless, McDowell is seeing a bit of a resurgence with a variety of international restaurants along its length and some new apartment buildings under construction around the Phoenix Art Museum. Continue reading “Guacamole’s Fresh Mexican Grill”

Las Glorias Grill

There aren’t many restaurants with names like “Glory” or “Glorious” — unless, of course, they’re in Spanish. Around the world, it’s not uncommon to find eateries with “Las Glorias” in their names, and Phoenix has two of them. One is a seafood restaurant in south Phoenix. The other one, Las Glorias Grill on the north side of town, has a broad menu with a good seafood selection of its own. This particular Las Glorias is located across the street from the 19th Avenue / Northern light rail station. Continue reading “Las Glorias Grill”

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