My original intention in trekking the 0.2 miles up the road to Coronado Café was to try out their Carne Pizza. Unfortunately, I have never been an investigative journalist – or, in this case, happened to look online at the menu — so I did not notice their menu changes to unleash their dinner fare on the world after 5 p.m. Whoops. Although, with the sweet aroma that was hovering over this little historic house, I was certain I would find something worth writing home about.
Upon setting foot inside this quaint cottage, you can sense the vibe they are going for — a down-home, in-your-neighborhood feel with an expansive menu. They are succeeding. Once I was seated, my mission was quite clear: locate the menu item that was producing that heavenly scent. Aha! My eyes landed on at least one of the culprits: the Roasted Chicken Sandwich.
The name itself sounds Plain Jane, but the outline for this masterpiece sounded divine. Savory roasted chicken with provolone, thick bacon, green chiles and an amazing chipotle aioli all balanced perfectly in a freshly baked MJ Bread foccacia bread. Needless to say, if you painted a picture of it, even cultured art enthusiasts would be attempting to consume the paint off the canvas.
Once this picture of beauty arrived, I was adrift in a wonderful land of heavenly scents and home-cooked delights. The taste I was swimming in was truly divine and unexplainable. My palate forgot the carne craving I had entered with (well… the bacon helped), and just allowed me to savor each bite.
I will return, oh dear neighborhood friend. And, next time, I will be after the wonders that your 5 o’clock menu holds.
Coronado Café is located at 2201 N. 7th St. in Coronado — 602.258.5149
DPJ is proud to bring you the best Yelp reviews of your favorite Downtown restaurants, boutiques, venues and everything in between. Every Tuesday, visit DPJ for a finely crafted, tell-all account of a Downtown spot straight from the experts: the people!
I’m reluctant to review this location since it’s where I find all my greatest deals and really, I don’t want to share with you. But I will since we’re friends.
50% off Saturdays are CRAZY. Be prepared. If you are clostraphobic you should avoid it at all costs. However, you can get smokin’ deals on pretty much everything if you’re willing to deal with massive crowds. This Saturday I got close to $200 worth of pristine Anne Taylor dresses, slacks, and shirts for about $15 — total.
This store is clean and doesn’t smell like dead people — a huge bonus in my book. It’s well organized and the people that work there are really helpful. One of the better thrift stores in the area by far.
Goodwill is located at 4005 N. 16th St. in Uptown — (602) 279.5870
The DPJ Yelper of the Week offers honest insight on a Downtown business to help you explore your core. DPJ hopes that by partnering with Yelp to spread the good word about well-loved Downtown spots, you’ll spread your patronage and support local business.
Yelp is a social networking and local search engine that provides the reviews of places and things that matter to you. Simply log in, pick a place and queue up your inner critic. You can write a beaming review of your favorite gelato spot, or a scathing portrayal of that rental car facility you had to use after that curb came out of nowhere. Yelp’s reviews are at once honest, uncensored, wildly hilarious and true. Heck, the site must be doing something right — it had 25 million viewers just last month!
Alternative art gallery .anti_space is moving from its Roosevelt Row ‘hood to a 7,000-square-foot warehouse off 7th Avenue and Buchanan Street.
Owner Scot McKenzie says the move is partially for more space, but mostly for more creative freedom. The kind of art he encourages — everything from electronic music to experimental and abstract art — is something that “most people in Phoenix don’t get.”
The electronic music he creates is representative of “other other side of life that you don’t get to see,” he says. “I want someone to see what I’ve seen in my head. It’s like something I see in that speaker. The space between one and zero. The analog. The space between the beat.”
McKenzie says that at first, the First Friday idea seemed to work as a way to showcase experimental art. But, when it quickly dissolved into “kettle corn, screaming kids and cops everywhere,” he knew he needed a new space. A bigger space.
“It was fun while it lasted,” McKenzie says of First Friday. “But, it wasn’t conducive to me being creative. If it’s a swap meet, I don’t want to do it.”
So, McKenzie found the warehouse, which was an old prop storage facility for an Arizona children’s theater company. He and a team of volunteering friends have just started the renovations, aiming to be open to the public by Art Detour 2010, but he acknowledges it will never be fully completed.
“It’ll never be done,” McKenzie says of the space. “It’ll always be a work in progress. It’s an always changing space.”
The nature of this space lends itself perfectly to the art McKenzie looks to create and hopes to house. In the past, .anti_space has shown work from the likes of Jason Hill and Luster Kaboom. In addition to continuing to show these and other works, he plans to have part of the warehouse be an area for restoration of old mod scooters, a hobby of his.
With this reimagined .anti_space McKenzie wants to show “anything that has beauty. It doesn’t seem to jive,” he says of the scooter aspect, but, “there’s nothing that’s not beautiful about that.”
The warehouse will have floor-to-ceiling gallery walls up to 14 feet tall and an anticipated five studios, but it also takes McKenzie back to his roots.
“It’s my biggest art piece,” McKenzie says of the space itself. “We’re going to try to make this one what we wanted the other one to be.”
For McKenzie, that means a return to the minimal. The warehouse is going to be a huge focal point for this space. He plans on lighting the bare beams, keeping the cold, cement feeling by painting the entrance walls to the gallery black and he even hopes to strip the outside façade down to its bare bricks. The fascination with warehouses began years ago when, at a younger age, he would explore the old warehouses in Phoenix.
“We used to break into warehouses because no one gave a shit about that stuff,” McKenzie says. “We were finding old junky spaces that people were letting us fix up.”
He later would use one of these spaces to create the first .anti_space, which was then located off of 9th Avenue and Madison Street. Let’s hope this move back to that original neighborhood is just the inspiration he needs.
The current .anti_space is currently located at 718 N. 4th St. in Evans Churchill — 602.256.ANTI. The new space, set to debut this spring, will be located at 715 W. Buchanan St. in the Warehouse District.
At the corner of 4th and Garfield streets, Nine|05 seems to be in a world all by itself — surrounded on its two main sides by expansive dirt lots — though it’s just half a black south of Roosevelt Street’s main arts drag. But, in a matter of months, two new concepts, European-inspired gastropub Canteen and El Rey, a Mexico City-style taco n’ tequila joint, will round out the corner, completing the mini-empire renowned Valley chef Matt Carter and his business partner, Jay Bogsinske, began envisioning nearly three years ago.
Carter and Bogsinske had eyed the building on Garfield Street butting up to the alley between 4th and 5th streets for the El Rey concept for years. It wasn’t until Johnny Chu’s Fate left the original Nine|05 space on the corner that they realized the entire dream. The landlord approached them to announce the availability of what would become Nine|05.
“We feel like we have an opportunity [on this corner] that someone else should’ve taken already,” Bogsinske says, smiling. “We had to take it. We’re excited to be a part of the renaissance going on Downtown. We’ll be here for a long time.”
When Nine|05 opened this past summer, the plan was to quickly follow up with Canteen as the heat tapered off. However, as Bogsinske reports, a lot of unforeseen red tape had to be cleared first. After months of delays installing water systems for a separate fire hydrant system — an issue Carter and Bogsinske weren’t aware of when they moved in — they’re back on track, eying a March opening date. The menu is a mix of Western European fare and comfort food with a strong bar influence — a mixologist will be behind the bar, and they’ll experiment with “moonshine-like” concoctions in oak barrels.
“We want to do something that will be the biggest food movement Downtown,” Bogsinske says. “We said, What do we eat when we’re out of town in New York or San Francisco? At 2 in the morning we’re eating Latin food or Asian food or really high-speed bar food. We said, Let’s do that.”
The Canteen space, similar in size and scope to the neighboring Nine|05 building, lends itself to the gastropub concept: a vaulted ceiling with swirling (incredibly eccentric) ironwork overhead, a second-story nook for DJs and live music, dark wood floors, a long hardwood bar and ample room for a charcuterie area featuring all sorts of tasty meats. The patio bar, currently used as an outdoor bar area for the Nine|05 space (and home to Thursday night open mic events), will inherit the Canteen menu, and will have a weekend European brunch complete with morning-after cocktails.
“Couples in America don’t eat dinner in a bar, because the food is garbage,” Bogsinske says. “But, in Germany, Spain and Austria, 55-year-old people eat dinner in a bar. That’s the idea: Really Western European, a nice wine list, New York-like high-speed cocktails, charcuterie, amber lighting and leather accents.”
The focal point of the room, the octopus-like iron structure floating above the bar, creates interesting shadows throughout the day, depending on how much light shines through the windows. It gives the room different auras depending on when you visit. All sorts of European-inspired vintage fixtures and trinkets will give it a “European hodgepodge feel,” as Bogsinske describes it.
The El Rey building, which Bogsinske says they’ll start to seriously work on in March once Canteen is completed, has ambitious goals, too, but he is quick to mention the low price points and laid-back atmosphere they’re trying to achieve.
“We’d always envisioned this building as a taqueria,” Bogsinske recalls. “Not like everyone envisions — without all the fried stuff, without all the fat, heavy food. Think stuff with more flavor; ingredient-driven food. We’ll have whole chickens, pigs and stuff on rotisserie, and we’ll come to the table and chop it off. We’re thinking about all kinds of shared condiments and salsas — chimichurris, salsa verdes and all different things on a table. It will be a very shared experience (amongst patrons).”
Upon completion, the El Rey building will have a stripped-down vibe that carefully preserves the 101-year-old structure. The building will be more cavernous than it appears from the outside, and lots of natural light will peak in through large, converted windows. The rooftop, accessible via elevator, will feature a lounge/bar area with live music that emanates east toward the Garfield neighborhood.
Bottom line, as Bogsinske describes it: You’d have to go to a culinary city like New York to get this kind of experience. The food isn’t only ingredient driven, but painstakingly laborious. The attention to detail on the plates at Nine|05 and the two upcoming projects doesn’t go unnoticed. Expect the same eye for detail in the two upcoming spaces.
This corner will be transformed into a destination spot for all kinds of price points and interests — everything from cheap tacos at El Rey, to upscale ramen at Nine|05, to DJs and homebrewed concoctions at Canteen — a whole world of flavors.
Nine|05 is located at 905 N. 4th St. in Evans Churchill — light rail station at Central/Roosevelt. 602.254.6424
After a brief hiatus, the Insecure Critic column is back with the same poignant, insightful, selective insecurities as before, but with a new focus: examining the city in which he lives, the issues that he faces and the people and places he encounters.
When I got home from my recent trip to Ohio to visit family for the holidays, it struck me: Phoenix is home to me now. I know that may seem obvious since I have lived almost a third of my life here, but it hadn’t hit me until this trip that I was most at home in the desert. When I first moved to the Valley in 2000, transferring jobs with a former employer, I never saw the move as something permanent. I expected to stay here for a few years then move on. Something has kept me here, though.
If I boil it down to the basics, there are three things that keep me here: the special places that make Phoenix unique, the interesting blend of people you will find here and the paradoxical beauty of the desert.
While some people say that there isn’t anything to do in Phoenix, I find I have the opposite problem. When family comes to visit from out of town, we have trouble getting everything done in time. For example, the Heard Museum is unlike any museum I’ve ever been to, with its unique collection of Native American art. Every time I visit, all I can think is, “Why don’t I come here more often?” I also love the experience of taking someone into You Who Are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies at the Phoenix Art Museum for the first time. Sure, neither of those places is MoMA, but they offer things that are uniquely Phoenix.
Not to get all museum crazy, but the other thing that I absolutely love in Phoenix is the Desert Botanical Garden. It is fun, interesting, beautiful, romantic and inspiring. I also highly recommend the guided tours they offer — I’m personally not much of a guided tour kind of guy, but I went on one last time I was at the garden, and it was fascinating.
I just realized that I am starting to sound like one of those cheesy tourist guides that you find on the nightstand at the Airport Hilton, so I apologize, but there is a reason that the Convention and Visitors Bureau recommends these places: they really are world class, and they are right in Phoenix.
Anyway, my other favorite places in Phoenix are our unique, local restaurants. There is nowhere else that you can find Matt’s Big Breakfast or Postino. I’m not sure of another place that I could find a bar as chill as The Lost Leaf or service as ambivalent as that at Carly’s.
I love the people in Phoenix; sure, when you have a populace that consistently elects the craziest sheriff in the country time after time, you have to wonder about the general mental state of the people, but I appreciate the distinct Arizona culture. As someone with a libertarian political view that borders on anarchist, I like the sort of “live and let live” attitude that tends to prevail in Phoenix. I see it in the way people interact in social situations, the way people behave at work and the way laws are written. Yes, this means that in Arizona your pet project, whether it is bike paths, or publicly funded solar panels, is less likely to be showered with tax dollars, but it also means that people in general respect your ability to make your own decisions. I like that.
I have met some of the most thoughtful, intelligent, clever people I have ever known right here in Phoenix, and I am sure I am going to meet many more.
I remember the first time I was told this maxim about our desert by a priest at a church I attended long ago: The miracle of the desert is finding beauty where you would never expect to see it. It is so true. The most barren and desolate mountain has an uncanny majesty as it stands against the bands of color in the Phoenix sunset. There is inspiration in seeing the tiny blossoms of a desert plant surrounded by acres and acres of dry, dusty land. It is a reminder that the most beautiful and meaningful things often come to us in hardship and difficulty. The desert speaks to me.
Am I a diehard evangelist for Phoenix, or am I vowing to stay here until I die? Absolutely not. But, by the same token, I will never be one of those people who constantly bitches about Phoenix, about how awful the transit, weather, people, politics or education is here, and how they can’t wait to move to San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland or Seattle, as though someone were holding a gun to their head forcing them to stay here. If someone offered me a dream job in Boston or Chicago, of course I would move. But, I’m happy where I am now.