Hanny’s

Look around any corporate office these days, and the sea of khakis and polos will attest to the move toward business casual attire. That trend, coupled with the rise of chain retailing, has led to the decline of a venerable institution that once existed in almost every major city: the independent menswear shop. This type of store was not only a supplier of the unspoken corporate uniform, but also a multi-generational tradition. The father-son trip to buy a first suit was a rite of passage. Similar traditions emerged for women as they entered the workplace. Continue reading “Hanny’s”

Forno 301

It’s become a common complaint that “high rises” and “condos” are ruining Roosevelt Row and nearby neighborhoods. In reality, most of the construction isn’t tall enough to be meet any widely accepted definition of “high rise,” and most of what is being built is apartments rather than condominiums. More importantly, while a few businesses have been displaced, many are finding new homes in the ground floor of new residential mid-rises. Forno 301 is one of those businesses, having recently relocated from west Roosevelt to the Muse apartments a half mile to the north. Continue reading “Forno 301”

Oven+Vine

The phrase “dead end street” doesn’t usually have a positive connotation. Literally, it means only one way in and out. Figuratively, it suggests a failed project. Maybe that’s why the fancier sounding “cul-de-sac” has become the preferred wording. In Midtown, many local streets were converted to cul-de-sacs over a decade ago in order to mitigate traffic in the adjacent Willo historic district. For Oven+Vine, a restaurant on the boundary between Willo and the Midtown commercial corridor, an address on a literal dead-end doesn’t have to lead to a figurative one. Continue reading “Oven+Vine”

Cibo

As new construction blossoms in Downtown Phoenix after years of delays, one of the details debated about various projects is the role of ground floor retail. Having shops or restaurants located below residences promotes a variety of uses in the pursuit of urban vitality. At the same time, adding more space than the market can bear can lead to the blight of empty storefronts. As recently as a decade ago, however, Phoenix wasn’t having this discussion because there was so little new construction that old houses were often the only space available for new businesses. Continue reading “Cibo”

Wild Thaiger

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 “Wild Thaiger”

Ocotillo

Almost every Phoenician has had some exposure to ocotillo, the desert shrub (technically not a cactus) known for its numerous spiny stalks that tower up to 20 feet high. The plant is a frequent component of local home xeriscapes, and specimens can be seen on any hike in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. In spring, vibrant red flowers appear at the end of each of its protuberances. With myriad branches growing in every direction but all leading to gorgeous blossoms, the ocotillo plant is an apt metaphor for a new restaurant in Midtown Phoenix that bears its name. Continue reading “Ocotillo”

Durant’s

For the past decade or so, the trend in Phoenix dining has been outdoor eating environments. Restaurants have invested in patios, sometimes larger than their indoor dining rooms, and many have built rolling garage-style doors that open the inside to the outside during mild weather. There is, however, one restaurant that has shunned the sun for over 65 years. Durant’s, the classic steak and seafood restaurant on Central Avenue halfway between the Encanto / Central and Thomas / Central light rail stations in Phoenix’s Midtown district, is deliberately dark and likely to stay that way. Continue reading “Durant’s”

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”

The Clever Koi

The colorful fish known as koi is just a few steps removed from ordinary gray carp. Centuries of careful breeding, blending both Asian and European varieties, has resulted in the vibrant animals stocked in so many lakes and aquarium tanks today. Likewise, some thoughtful cultivation of traits from numerous Asian cuisines, along with a few European influences, appears to have gone into creating the Clever Koi, a restaurant at the north end of Midtown Phoenix. Located just a block north of the Indian School / Central light rail station, the restaurant is now celebrating its first anniversary. Continue reading “The Clever Koi”

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