Category Archives: Dining
[Source: Glen Creno, The Arizona Republic]
Tom’s Tavern, a landmark downtown Phoenix restaurant that had been on the brink of closing, has a new owner dedicated to keeping it open and preserving its identity.
The Bidwill family, owners of the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League, bought the restaurant that has built a reputation as a favorite spot for the big names of government and business. It will be run by a new division of the company the Cardinals created to operate the food service at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Tom’s has been around in various incarnations for more than 80 years, but it was put up for sale last year when its owner, Michael Ratner, could no longer spend the time he wanted running the place. He was spending most of his time in treatment for esophageal cancer and said that if a buyer couldn’t be found, the restaurant would be closed.
Ratner died in November after a two-year battle with the cancer. But before his death, Michael Bidwill, the Cardinals’ president, paid Ratner a visit and expressed interest in buying Tom’s.
The deal closed late last week and the new ownership hopes to reopen soon, possibly today, after a cleanup and inspection.
Tom’s was a favorite spot for Bidwill during his six years as a federal prosecutor in Phoenix. He said he had known Ratner even before that and believed it was important to keep the restaurant going.
“It’s been a downtown Phoenix tradition,” Bidwill said. “Too often, we see these kind of places close. I didn’t want to see Tom’s close. There’s too much history there.”
The original Tom’s opened in 1929 in a nearby neighborhood. A restaurant group bought the brand and moved to the restaurant’s current location at Central Avenue and Washington Street. Ratner owned it for 18 years before deciding to put it up for sale last year.
Ratner had said Tom’s business was disrupted by construction of the light-rail line and the CityScape development. He had been expecting a bump in business after the rail construction was finished and said he thought CityScape would bring more people into the area. He never got much of a chance to take advantage of either. He had surgery, chemotherapy and radiation in an effort to rid himself of cancer. Eventually, it became difficult for him to get around, even with medication.
His wife, Terry, is a registered nurse and didn’t know much about running a restaurant. She said she was pleased it would stay open and that her husband was happy to know the place he cared about so much would not go by the wayside.
“It was bittersweet for me,” she said of the sale.
Ron Minegar, executive vice president and chief operating officer for the Cardinals, said the plan was to preserve the cachet of Tom’s while updating its look and menu. The goal is to keep the restaurant’s brand and tradition.
“There’s clearly a rich history with Tom’s Tavern,” he said. “It’s kind of a meeting spot for the city. We didn’t want to see a landmark like that go away. I’m glad it had the happy ending.”
Howard Seftel has come out with a list of his top 10 downtown Phoenix restaurants:
Whether you’re looking to catch a bite before the game or destination dining, downtown Phoenix is flush with options these days. So hop on the light rail and take a ride to one of these restaurants.
Top 10 downtown Phoenix restaurants [AZ Central]
Howard’s top ten restaurants are:
- Nobuo at Teeter House nobuofukuda.com
- Pizzeria Bianco pizzeriabianco.com
- Sens Asian Tapas sensake.com
- Matt’s Big Breakfast mattsbigbreakfast.com
- The Breadfruit (and Rum Bar) thebreadfruit.com
- Thai Elephant thaielephantaz.com
- District American Kitchen (pictured) districtrestaurant.com
- Moira Sushi Bar moirasushi.com
- Viet Kitchen vietkitchenaz.com
- The Roosevelt Tavern
[Source: Emily Gersema, The Arizona Republic]
A downtown Jamaican restaurant is preparing for the grand opening of its rum bar.
The Breadfruit Jamaican Grill at 108 E. Pierce St. recently held a soft opening for Phoenix’s first-known rum bar.
The rum-bar extension of the intimate restaurant has a rustic Caribbean feel, featuring tables made from supply crates turned upside down, homemade bar stools and more than 60 rums. Co-owner Dwayne Allen says it reminds him of his home in Jamaica, where rum bars remain a community gathering place. Allen and co-owner Danielle Leoni still have about 40 rums on order but believe they’ll receive them by their 5 p.m. grand opening on Jan. 23.
Allen and Leoni opened the restaurant more than a year ago. It was an opportunity for Allen to introduce Phoenix diners to Caribbean dishes such as Jamaican grilled, jerk-style prawns, and curried chicken with dumplings, and desserts such as sweet-potato pudding and a parfait made with Madagascar vanilla ice cream.
Allen says most bars in his native Jamaica are known as rum bars because years ago, that was the only liquor available on the island. He says the rum bars tend to look rustic and weathered, which is why he and Leoni adopted a similar look for their bar. They transformed century-old barn doors salvaged from a Midwestern farm into shelves and created beer-bottle pendulum lights.
This drink is made from sugar-cane byproducts, such as the juice or molasses. Historians believe that the first rums were developed in India. The first Caribbean rums were made by slaves in the 17th century, and then British colonists began selling it. Allen says the flavors for each rum vary according to whether juice or molasses is used, and how it is processed.
This is the number of imported rums that Leoni and Allen have chosen to offer at their bar. They chose it because it is a multiple of three – symbolic of fundamental principles in Daoist philosophy. The couple have had to hunt for importers to bring the unique brands to Arizona. Their menu features rums primarily from Central and South America.
[Source: Kellie Hwang, azcentral.com]
It’s been confirmed: The Mobile Food Truck Court will launch on Nov. 5 at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market.
Brad Moore, owner of Short Leash Hotdogs, is spearheading the effort. He hopes to draw downtown employees.
The trucks will be set up in the parking lot, with tables and chairs underneath the carports for shade. If all goes well, Phoenix Public Market owner Cindy Gentry said the hope is to renovate the parking lot with misters to make it more diner-friendly. She is looking forward to food court and thinks it will add to the foot traffic in the market.
“I love the energy of the trucks and the people,” she said. “The food is fabulous, and this will really create a good synergy with the public market. Nothing but positivity can come from this.”
Here are the confirmed food trucks for the opening:
- Riteway Catering: smoked barbecue.
- Paradise Melts: grilled cheese sandwiches.
- Short Leash Hotdogs: gourmet hotdogs.
- Sunshine and Spice: Asian fusion.
- Sweet Republic: ice cream.
Moore hopes to add more trucks and rotate them.
11 a.m.-1 p.m. Fridays, starting Nov. 5.
Downtown Phoenix Public Market, 14 E. Pierce St., Phoenix.
[Source: Howard Seftel, Arizona Republic]
Once a hot spot on the corner of McDowell and Seventh Avenue, My Florist Café has seemed to be on life support for years.
Now the plug has been pulled: The restaurant’s phone has been disconnected. Equipment was being pulled out of the kitchen Friday morning. And word has gone out to performers scheduled for upcoming events that the venue is not available.
Back in its 1990s heyday, My Florist Café attracted a cool crowd of bohemians and suits, folks who had almost no downtown Phoenix-area hangout alternatives. Here you could get decent grub, and a vibe that could make you plausibly pretend you were in a big city.
But over the past decade, as downtown grew, My Florist Café couldn’t keep up, and lost its cachet. By 2010, it had pretty much become irrelevant. The restaurant also seemed to suffer when a second location was opened in Ventura, Calif.
[Source: Howard Seftel, AZCentral.com]
Attention, downtown Phoenix: Are you ready for a conveyor-belt sushi restaurant?
Ready or not, here it comes, in the form of Sushi Revolution, which will be occupying the spot next to Fair Trade Café on First Avenue at Roosevelt Street around Thanksgiving.
Faster, more casual and less expensive than traditional sushi restaurants, conveyor-belt sushi is very popular in Japan. You sit at the counter and watch the never-ending offerings glide past. Nab whatever you like. Plates are color-coded, to indicate price. At the end of the meal, a staffer adds up your plates and totals your bill. (The Valley’s first conveyor-belt sushi restaurant, Sushi Eye, opened in Chandler in 2007.)
Chef/owner Antonio Chavira, 28, thinks downtown’s business folks and students will appreciate the format at lunch, while everyone will go for it at dinner or after a downtown event. He plans to stay open until 1 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Although he will offer traditional sushi, Chavira, who calls himself an Anglo-Hispanic, promises “lots of fusion influences.” You’ll see a chile relleno roll, a duck confit and fig roll and a Maine lobster roll.
Prices, he says, will range from $1.50 to $4.
Sushi Revolution is downtown Phoenix’s second sushi restaurant. Moira Sushi, at 215 E. McKinley St., opened about 18 months ago.
1024 N. First Ave., Phoenix.
sushirevolutionphx.com (under construction).
A downtown Phoenix institution may be forced to close because of the owner’s battle with cancer.
“I’ve known for two years,” said Michael Ratner, owner of Tom’s Tavern. “But I’m hard headed and I didn’t want to give in to anything”
The cancer just compounds other problems for the tavern and other downtown businesses, from a bad economy, to a downtown that suffers after sunset, plus a lot of construction. But it’s the cancer that may push Ratner’s historic place over the edge.
Tom’s Tavern opened during the Great Depression, in 1929. It’s been a diner and pool hall ever since with Presidents and Princes coming by to grab a bite over the years. You can see the photographic proof around the restaurant. It’s also the kind of place that regular customers have name plackards on chairs around the place.
But owner Ratner can barely get around with a walker and he is in serious pain, making running the restaurant next to impossible. He hasn’t been able to be there in weeks.
“I have hope it will work out,” Ratner said with a tear. “I think the tradition of Tom’s can live on.”
Here it is, the moment we’ve all waited for: the first double-digit temps. Feel free to abandon the a/c and head outside to enjoy Downtown’s balmy fall nights.
Start with drinks at the newly opened ReBar on Roosevelt, which has a big outdoor patio and a nice vibe for relaxing with friends.
Other options include The Rose and Crown, where you can sip a Guinness on the always-popular porch or lawn; Steve’s Greenhouse Grill, where the misters keep you extra-comfortable; and Seamus McCaffrey’s Irish Pub & Restaurant, which has patio seating and a Publican who really knows his liquor. Ask him to recommend something from the pub’s big selection of draught beer and Irish whisky.
Of course, as you probably know, one of Downtown’s most eye-catching outdoor settings is the Arizona Center. Both Sam’s Café and My Big Fat Greek Restaurant face the Center’s gorgeous gardens, water features and cozy benches for canoodling.
Want more that’s outdoor? Sip a White Mocha coffee on the patio at Fair Trade Café, then walk a few steps to Civic Space Park and its green lawns. Relax under the stars while you feel sorry – just briefly – for the rest of the country, which will soon be dealing with rain and snow.
It’s good to be a Phoenician.
[Source: Dustin Volz (Guest Author), State Press Magazine]
As downtown Phoenix attempts to rebrand itself as a big-time city, restaurants are looking for creative ways to stand out from the growing crowd of hip places to eat. Many are turning to their restrooms to accomplish their rise to the top of trendy lists.
Hanny’s became a popping nighttime spot in the heart of downtown restaurant last year with its lavish bar and Mediterranean offerings. Its restrooms are hidden behind a row of booths on the second floor mezzanine and down a narrow, mirrored hallway.
If someone didn’t point you in the right direction, you’d never guess that a series of unmarked, handle-free white doors lead to private restrooms. With soap dispensed from generic ketchup bottles and eco-friendly flushing measures, Hanny’s restrooms are worth a visit.
If you go: 40 N. 1st St. 602-252-2285, hannys.net.
In between baskets of Delux’s signature sweet potato fries, don’t forget to check out the restroom at this urban bar and burger joint. The dark hallway leading to the restrooms is lined by a wall of Delux-brand toilet paper, and the communal sink area is lit by small candles. The sophisticated atmosphere makes a visit to the restrooms a worthwhile trip during dinner.
If you go: 3146 E. Camelback Road. 602-522-2288, deluxburger.com.
Local Breeze Patio Café
Located in an inviting old house formerly home to the restaurant Palatte, Local Breeze brings neighborhood charm onto the otherwise mundane downtown Phoenix streets with brunch-time pizzas and salads. Its small, one-person restroom sports a collage of knick-knacks on the walls and stickers on the ceiling, but the toilet is sectioned off by crumpled pieces of rusted iron that look borrowed from the front gates of an industrial factory. Swing open the metal door and take a peek.
If you go: 606 N. Fourth Ave. 602-368-3613, localbreeze.com.
Gallo Blanco Café & Bar
Kick off your visit to Gallo Blanco with a trip to the restroom, but beware the lipstick; Gallo Blanco urinals resemble the pursed mouth of Scarlett Johansson.
Located in the bustling Clarendon Hotel, Gallo Blanco serves Mexican cuisine better than most, and its atmosphere is funky and upbeat. Likewise, the restroom urinals are wonk, providing an open mouth lined by blood red, luscious lips that would make even Angelina Jolie jealous. Pucker up!
If you go: 401 W. Clarendon Ave. 602-327-0880, galloblancocafe.com.
This post was written by SPM guest author, Dustin Volz. Contact the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While this article is focused on downtown ASU students, the tips are relevant for anybody who lives, works and/or plays in downtown Phoenix.
Downtown Phoenix has come a long way in a short period of time. Anyone who’s been around longer than an ASU freshman can tell you that. But the dining scene for students still leaves a bit to be desired. Here are our tips for feeding yourself, these first few weeks of school.
1. Become a Coupon Clipper Printer
Little known fact: downtownphoenix.com has tons of special deals and coupons on local restaurants and businesses, just select the option from the “What to do” tab and print away.
2. Be Picky About Your On-Campus Eating
There are two restaurants in the bottom of the Cronkite School at 555 N. Central Avenue: Subway and El Portal. Subway is good for a few meals, then all of the sudden one day you walk in and never want to smell that bread again. And El Portal has earned quite a reputation locally for its health inspections, which you might want to check out here.
Our pick for an on campus meal?
ASU’s Taylor Place (120 East Taylor Street) offers lunch and dinner to everyone, not just students or dorm residents. A little more than $8 will get you an hour of bottomless food and drinks at the buffet-style cafeteria, which has offers a pizza station, salad and fruit bars, pastries, and made-to-order sandwiches. Sit outside on the patio for less of a rowdy high school cafeteria experience, unless of course, that is your thing.
The places you should be going and our coffee picks, after the jump. Read the rest of this entry