Located along a flowering urban stretch of 7th Street between Palm Lane and Virginia Avenue, amid Coronado’s western hem, exists the dewy, contemporary Vietnamese eatery Rice Paper.
Rice Paper is certainly a charming place. Cramped with a quirky, colorful and innocent modern aesthetic that is contrasted starkly by the aging mortar of the space’s original bones, Rice Paper’s deliberate visual mix translates literally to its menu―serving core Vietnamese values teased for slightly more Westernized appetites.
However, tempered Vietnamese or not, Rice Paper provides some wholeheartedly tasty eating.
Offering an array of familiar Vietnamese classics, or takes on classics, like their namesake fresh spring rolls (here nearly burrito-sized furls of soft rice paper filled with snappy herbs, greens and an array of carnivorous and vegetarian proteins alike), warm brothy bowls of pho (savory noodle soups that garner a ramen-like cult following by many enthusiastic food hunters), crispy chicken wings (their best being the option with the tangy, salty fish sauce glaze), and, of course, the hallmark banh mi sandwich.
A love child of Euro-Asian colonialism, the banh mi of today has become an unofficial gateway bite into what Vietnamese cuisine can provide, showing striking contrasts between mild and sweltering, salty and sugary, smelly and fragrant. Everyone loves a satisfying, balanced sandwich, and at Rice Paper, there is no mocking that―it delivers.
Known for its chewy, crusty baguette frame (an ultimate banh mi make-or-break), filled with interchanging layers of savory protein, raw vegetables’ sweet and bitter crunch, zesty herbs, and often the added glue of chili sauce, a great banh mi is most definitely sandwich hall-of-fame material.
Pork being one of the most popular banh mi stuffings, Rice Paper offers two distinct versions: a seasoned, slow-braised option more complementary to barbeque pulled pork shoulder, and a more straightforward take, with the meat less manipulated, lightly charred on the grill, then chopped. The former is more overtly flavorful, the latter more subtle in its inherent pork attributes―smoky at first, finishing sweet as you complete the wondrous chew.
Rice Paper was never intended to be a substitute for those fantastic, stalwart Vietnamese dives we all love. We can all name our favorites. Rather, it’s about diversity in context and options, and that’s always a good thing. And in this case, a very good tasting thing.
Welcome to the neighborhood, Rice Paper.
If you go
Address: 2221 North 7th Street, Phoenix, AZ
Contact: (602) 252-3326 | Map
Marshall Shore steeps himself in the history of Phoenix that others might overlook: the cultural anomalies, the fads, the dreamers, the artists and the eccentrics that provide a unique window into our city’s past. One such character was the infamous Phoenix trunk murderer, Winnie Ruth Judd.
Back in 1931, the nation was rocked by the grisly details of this gruesome crime. On October 16, 1931, Winnie purportedly killed her two roommates, cut up one of the bodies, stuffed both bodies into trunks, and took them by train to Los Angeles.
It was a big job for a small woman, and the twisted tale of adultery, jealousy and murder was complicated by rumors, speculation and uncertainty. Bits and pieces of the story continue to come to light, even to this day.
“As I talk with people in my research, the most interesting things come to light.” said Marshall. “Just recently, my phone rang and someone began telling me about how Winnie Ruth Judd’s victim was cut up in the basement of her house.” Yikes!
This Sunday, October 16, is 80 years to the day since the crime was committed, and in true Marshall Shore style, he’s hosting a bus tour to commemorate the date. The tour runs from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., and begins and ends at the historic MacAlpine’s Soda Fountain coffee shop on 7th Street.
The bus will travel along the old Brill trolley line, which will give tour-goers an idea of the shape and size of Phoenix back in Winnie’s day. Other stops will include the houses where she lived and where she met Jack Holleran, a well-known Phoenix businessman with whom she had an adulterous affair; the Grunow Clinic (still a medical clinic!) where she worked; the house where the murders took place; the train station where she attempted to board with the oozing trunks; and the old Maricopa County Courthouse where the trial took place.
Marshall promises a few surprise stops along the way and tour participants will be among the first to hear about details in the story that have recently come to light. The tour will cover more information than found in any book, and Marshall will reveal a little known connection to the story that explains why MacApline’s was chosen as the meeting place.
Celebrate Halloween early with this eerie trip down murder’s memory lane.
If you go
What: Winnie Ruth Judd/ Trunk Murder Tour
When: Sunday, October 16
Time: 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Where: Tour begins and ends at MacAlpine’s Soda Fountain
Tickets: Available here
There’s a birthday coming up and we need everyone to get together and sing for the big 2-0.
The Rhythm Room is celebrating their two decades in the Valley with a show. Duh, of course.
They have hosted everyone from small local bands to Cursive to up-and-comers Wye Oak and everyone in-between.
Although The Rhythm Room has grown outside of blues genre, it was born under those roots.
Owner Bob Corritore moved to Phoenix in 1981, known best for his way with a harmonica. Ten years later, he opened up The Rhythm Room.
It has now grown into Downtown Phoenix’s source of soul and a great, down-to-earth show. The smoky, dark feeling inside eases you into whomever you’re going to see.
With the stage just an arm’s length away, it gives you the intimate feeling that no other venue does in Arizona. It’s no wonder people love to grab a beer and watch a show from their various tables and stools.
Wednesday will kick off a stream of anniversary shows for the venue.
An acoustic, indie and local line-up is in store to start things.
Starting off the show is Matthew Reveles, who has a down South rooted sound including banjo, harmonica and acoustic guitar. Just think Murder By Death meets Bright Eyes style.
Following Reveles is Michelle Blades, who shows that age doesn’t mean a thing when it comes to writing a song. She comes armed with a ukulele and beautiful vocal range that makes your jaw drop.
ROAR is next with a more Animal Collective style which acoustic may be something you’ll never get a chance to see again.
So yes, you read this all correctly, six bands for almost $1 each.
The show is $8 and bring some cake if you really want to get festive.
Just don’t forget the candles.
Show starts at 7:30 p.m.
Smoky and charred, great taquería-style carne asada is all about texture. Sometimes marinated and seasoned, sometimes barely touched by oil and salt before hitting the griddle’s singe or charcoal’s sear, the often brutally chopped, well-done beef (usually skirt steak) is comfortably known for it’s unmistakable, mildly resisting character.
There are several fantastic outposts for great carne asada throughout Phoenix. And of those, it’s definitely no secret that America’s Taco Shop, the growing local enterprise now with two locations in central Phoenix alone, serves a nearly pitch-perfect example of the savory, versatile Mexican staple. Whether jammed inside tacos, burritos, or unapologetic quesadillas, America’s knows well how to target and satisfy straightforward, tried-and-true cravings.
Beyond their regular menu items, one of my perennial loves at America’s is the Vampiro. Sinister tag-name aside, the Vampiro is a tostada with unassuming gusto. A small, crunchy corn tortilla, evenly pressed with layers of salty chopped carne asada, melted jack cheese, caramelized onions, guacamole, and finely shaved, crisp iceberg lettuce. Flick a kiss of hot sauce on top, maybe complement its glory with a crowning pour of their bright housemade salsa, or, who knows, maybe amend your order to add an aguas fresca or two, and there you have it: you’re already midway through a worthy, edible late-afternoon recharge.
America’s Taco Shop is located at 2041 N. 7th St. in Coronado (602.682.5627), and at 4447 N. 7th Ave. in Melrose (602.515.0856).
(Please welcome guest writer Frank Morris)
Sanskrit word of the day: Sutra. It means the thread that binds. And it’s a word that one Downtown yoga studio is taking literally.
SuTRA Midtown, which opened its doors and innovative business practices in March 2009, fuses contemporary takes on traditional fitness techniques with a touch of Coronado culture in its efforts to remind the masses “it can be hip to be healthy.”
Set in what once was an abandoned factory along Seventh Street between Thomas and McDowell roads, SuTRA Midtown offers an array of exercise classes from yoga, Pilates and ballet barre to a number of sessions for kiddies and moms-to-be.
The studio also hosts a range of neighborhood events, rotating art exhibits, and is home to the Chop Shop Café, offering servings of locally roasted coffee, a cornucopia of world teas and an assortment of appetizing treats.
A fully family-owned-and-operated facility – co-owners Matt and Rebecca Fritz have four children together – SuTRA Midtown represents the unyielding will and resolve of two eager entrepreneurs and a community that turns out in droves to support them.
With backgrounds in the creative arts and real estate development, the couple said they waged everything in the midst of the worst economy in generations to open up their neighborhood business.
While the Great Recession proved challenging for an upstart undertaking, the Fritz family passion for healthy bodies, healthy minds and a healthy community kept them going.
“We’ve been living in this neighborhood for nine years and it got to the point where we wanted to do something in our own ’hood. We wanted to be that thread that binds and lets people be healthy,” Matt said. “Unfortunately, we opened our doors right before the rug of the economy got pulled out from beneath all of Phoenix. That was difficult.”
But with a mixture of affordable classes, a positive spirit, and a unique and upbeat business approach, the couple’s endeavor appears to be paying off.
“I think a lot of people were hurting, but we offered a lot of classes [30-40 a week] to help people get by,” Matt said.
“We’ve been very fortunate and have been fully embraced by Central Phoenix, the residents of our neighborhood and the residents of Downtown,” he said. “It’s been a baby-step process, but we’ve definitely been doing wonderfully.”
That baby-step process has earned the studio not only the support of the community, but multiple awards, as well. SuTRA Midtown been named best in the Valley on more than one occasion.
And from a purely selfish viewpoint, the couple’s venture has completely been worth it, they said.
“Everything we love we put into this building; that’s the whole reason we went into this. It’s really just our own lifestyle that we put into this space,” Matt said. “Even after maternity leave, Rebecca comes back to work and on the first day back says, ‘Oh, God, I love this place.’”
And it’s a place the Fritzes are hoping more and more will love, too.
Frank Morris can be reached by email at email@example.com.