Recently the Downtown Phoenix Partnership hosted a tasting event to share the latest edition of their Downtown Phoenix Dining Guide, as if we needed any convincing that downtown has it going on in the dining department.
But after a tour of downtown hot spots via a five course meal and four mocktails, we’re glad they did because the Hamachi from Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails still haunts us.
With more than a dozen new restaurants opening in the last year, the Partnership updated the popular dining guide for a third year to help business crowds, politicos, arts and culture aficionados, and sports enthusiasts discover all the tasty sensations Phoenix has to offer.
“The dining dynamic in Downtown continues to evolve and it’s exciting to watch,” says David Roderique, President & CEO of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership. “I think it’s important to note that the dining momentum is a key element of our economic strength. Downtown is now recognized as a major destination for dining as we continue to make gains in our restaurant offerings with new openings.”
The Guide identifies where visitors and residents alike can find the best nibbles before or after a show, game, or during the business week for that power lunch. We’re hearing the piece is especially popular with conventioneers, and the Partnership’s visitor center can’t keep it on the shelves. And it just might help the downtowner think of a new place to try.
The Guide features more than 100 restaurants in the 90-square-block urban core, with coverage this year expanding to Greater Downtown, north to Portland Street, south to Lincoln Street, and west to 7th Avenue.
The 2012-2013 Downtown Phoenix Dining Guide can be downloaded or ordered online at www.downtownphoenix.com/diningguide.
On a Tuesday afternoon, a gathering of people are seated around a long table, eating lunch and watching the thought-provoking presentations known as TED Talks projected on a large screen at one end of the room.
These individuals are largely owners or employees of a variety of small businesses, but they are all co-workers at CO+HOOTS, the Downtown Phoenix office space that just celebrated its second year of supporting what founder Jenny Poon (pictured right) calls a “creative class” of entrepreneurs.
Located in the historic Garfield district building that housed one of Phoenix’s first grocery stores, CO+HOOTS provides collaborative office space and development resources for a wide range of small businesses and independent professionals.
Many of the businesses housed in the space focus on creative services and range from graphic design to software and web development to public relations.
As the owner of her own small business, a design and branding company called eeko studio, Poon understood the challenges unique to entrepreneurs. She envisioned a centrally located space that would provide a home base for independent businesses owners to work collaboratively.
She also knew that the conditions were right to make it happen in Phoenix, noting that, “really good work comes in when you get three things in place: when you have the right timing, when you have the right people, and when everyone is compensated properly.”
According to Poon, the concept for CO+HOOTS is that you’re “sharing space, you’re sharing concepts, you’re sharing ideas, you’re the whole business, how you grow your business. You’re sharing that with everybody and helping everybody kind of grow together.”
At their two-year mark, this collaborative model has proven effective as CO+HOOTS now houses 15 resident companies and has over 200 members. On an average day, approximately 30 people will use the 3500 square foot space to work, hold meetings, and attend events and workshops.
Poon attributes their success to the people who make up Phoenix’s creative community, which helped CO+HOOTS become sustainable in its first two years. “We’ve been very fortunate to create it in downtown Phoenix where we have a very, very strong grassroots community.”
Businesses can sign up for a monthly membership or pay a small drop-in fee to work for the day. By working out of CO+HOOTS, they are tapped into networking opportunities and can take advantage of events like Mid-week Mind Tweak, which includes presentations from community business professionals and Night Owls, where people can devote time to side projects from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. every other Thursday. Many of these events are also open to the public.
A variety of advisors are also available to CO+HOOTS co-workers to offer guidance in areas like marketing, management, and legal matters.
As for their future, in the same way that businesses develop and graduate from the co-working space, CO+HOOTS is about to take the next step in its own growth process.
Soon they will be moving to a new, larger location at 10th St. and Washington to be part of a broader concept of creating an entrepreneurial corridor. Not only will this allow them to increase their capacity, but it is also a move to link up with other entrepreneurial incubators in the valley who are working to put Phoenix on the map as a place where these businesses can flourish.
As an organization dedicated to community development, Poon says, “the goal of CO+HOOTS is to be around as long as the community needs it to be.” Given their success thus far, they are likely to have a long future cultivating Phoenix’s entrepreneurial spirit.
Learn more about becoming a member, their weekly events and the companies “in CO+HOOTS.”
Essential oils, the liquid extract found in plants, are becoming the products of choice for local companies looking to offer alternatives to chemical-filled health and beauty products on the market today.
Loral Deatherage, cofounder of ecocentricity!, hosts classes on essential oils and uses them herself for anything from the common cold to stress relief.
“I usually base things on facts and research, so when I first heard of these essential oils, I thought it was just some modern day ‘woo-woo,’” Deatherage said. “But now, every time I have a pain or ailment, I go to the essential oils first rather than to a doctor or medicines.”
According to Deatherage, essential oils are basically the energies used by plants to protect themselves against various threats. The plants are typically steam distilled to capture the essence inside. The oil from each plant contains different properties and can be used for a variety of applications.
These oils are similar to herbal medications, Deatherage said, but much more powerful.
Common uses include alleviation of burns, headaches, colds, coughs, upset stomach, nausea, fever and bug bites. People also use them for aromatherapy to relax, sleep better and even prevent illnesses.
Despite the long list of benefits, Deatherage said people today aren’t commonly using these oils because our society focuses on hospitals and doctors for healing or wellness.
“Doctors won’t usually steer people toward essential oils for their illnesses because it’s just not part of their training,” she added. “They are taught to treat things with drugs or surgery.”
Ancient civilizations used oils (similar to the blend “Thieves,” pictured right) to fight off illnesses and even ward off the plague, but then we became too “smart” with our technological advances, Deatherage said.
“We forgot about what’s out there in nature, and about these methods that are much easier on the body,” she said. “We’ve turned our health completely over to our doctors rather than being responsible for our own bodies.”
Tracy Perkins, owner and artisan at Strawberry Hedgehog, said she uses essential oils in her bath and body products because conventional products can contain over 3,000 different chemicals.
“There is a reason people get headaches when they head through that (perfume) section in the shopping mall,” Perkins said.
She added that the blanket term “fragrance” often refers to products containing thousands of mystery ingredients, including some that are toxic.
“We could easily return to using all essential oils in place of synthetic fragrance,” Perkins said. “(There are) greatly improved products available that actually help people rather than hurt them.”
Kari Bower, owner of Emelmahae Soap Company, said she has used essential oils for over 20 years and also refuses to put any synthetic fragrances into her products.
“Using essential oils makes for better products because your body knows what to do with them,” Bower said. “They are also better for the earth and won’t cause pollution issues because the earth knows what to do with them, too.”
With more people becoming “label-readers,” Bower said there is much more awareness of the difference between natural and synthetic products. When she sells her products at the Phoenix Public Market, customers will actually pick up the soap products and read the list of ingredients.
“People are starting to notice a difference in these types of things,” she added. “I think that (the oils) are a much better choice, and they enhance life while helping clean out unnecessary toxins from the things around us, so they definitely deserve a shot.”
Keep an eye out for these local companies that sell essential oil products:
The Fourth of July is quickly approaching and that means stores are filling up with Americana-inspired clothing. But how much is too much for this sparkling holiday? Keep it cool, simple and festive by dressing in the good old red, white and blue.
Denim cut-offs and brilliant jewelry are great for a night out. Comfortable shoes are a must, and a cross-body bag will help keep your camera handy so you can snap photos of fireworks and friends.
Bold red shorts are a great statement for the men out there. Keep it classic with a white button up and add a navy and gold watch for some added style. The cool deck shoes are an upgrade from the the typical flip flops.
There is something special about a neighborhood that preserves its historic charm while enlivening it with great food.
Cooking Light recently announced to the nation what we downtowners already knew about the Coronado neighborhood: it’s where we can fill our bellies, drink ourselves content and have oh-so-decadent sweets to boot.
As Cooking Light put it, “Phoenix’s Historic Coronado Neighborhood’s preservation efforts have led to a culinary revival of sorts: the neighborhood’s meticulously restored homes now house some of the best eateries in the city, such as The Main Ingredient Ale House & Café, Rice Paper Eatery, Coronado Cafe, and 1950s union hall-turned-home-turned-restaurant Tuck Shop.”
We couldn’t agree more. The upcycled atmosphere behind each of the restored eateries instantly instills a warm, comforting feeling upon arrival. The bungalows are practically telling you to savor the buttery sweet America’s Corn from America’s Taco Shop, the caramelized fig pizza at Humble Pie and the hot fudge sundae at McAlpines Soda Fountain. After all that food, they’re pushing you to sip on the craft brews at Main Ingredient Ale House or the specialty cocktails at Rice Paper. If only walls could talk.
While Coronado’s food scene was our best-kept secret, we can now take comfort in knowing those restaurants and eateries have become national destination spots and are helping to revolutionize Phoenix’s food scene.
Photo credit: Justin Lee