Thai restaurants seem to come and go at a high frequency in Phoenix, expanding and contracting in loosely affiliated networks with establishments of the same name owned by different family members or business associates. One local veteran, Thai Rama, has varied its suburban locations over the years but has remained a consistent presence at its original address in central Phoenix. Near the Melrose and Grandview neighborhoods, Thai Rama has stood for several decades in a standalone building a few blocks west of the 7th Avenue / Camelback light rail station. Continue reading
After years in the doldrums, Midtown seems to be enjoying a modest resurgence. In the linear business district along Central between McDowell and Indian School, employers such as Banner have occupied vacant space in office buildings, new residential construction is underway, and coworking spaces have set up shop. In fact, the name “Midtown,” long obscure to residents who thought of everything south of Camelback as “Downtown,” has acquired enough cachet to see its borders stretched, with restaurants as far east as 24th Street using “Midtown” in their names. Continue reading
Roosevelt Row was recently recognized as a “Great Place” by the American Planning Association. The distinction, which focuses on factors such as walkability, multimodal transport, and community gathering places, is a validation of the transformation of East Roosevelt from Central to Seventh Street. The quieter side of Roosevelt west of First Avenue hasn’t received as much attention, but that may be changing with planned bike lanes and new development. One new arrival is Forno 301, named for its address at the corner of Roosevelt and Third Avenue. Continue reading
In many Asian religions and cultures, the lotus flower has long been associated with purity and beauty. Thai Lotus, a restaurant in a former IHOP that shares a parking lot with a bare-bones strip mall, is definitely not going to be confused with a delicate flower in terms of appearance. The converted chain restaurant has been enlivened on the inside with a little bit of southeast Asian decor, but the outside is still a plain design. Nevertheless, the delicacy and complexity of the food, rather than the aesthetics of the space, are what makes Thai Lotus worth a visit.
With apologies to John Lennon: Imagine there are no puns / It’s easy if you try / Just the owner’s name / Without wordplay on “Thai” / Imagine all the people eating there today. If you can get past the mangled song lyrics, envision a Thai restaurant that simply bears the name of its proprietor without reliance on the witticisms that have become all too popular, both for Thai restaurants themselves and the dishes they serve. Nunthaporn’s in Downtown Mesa is just that type of place: a Thai restaurant where the food trumps attempts at humor. Continue reading