Excited? Expected?

Foodly politics aside, events like the already in-progress Arizona Restaurant Week (Sept. 18th-26th) not only benefit local restaurants directly, injecting often sorely needed adrenaline into otherwise deserved-but-stagnate establishments, it also helps sell to a wider society our inherent dining offerings as a whole.

In a perpetually insecure state like Arizona, often plagued with the complacency of mediocrity⎯in seemingly everything⎯the truth is, Phoenix (and Arizona) truly does pull some credible tonnage in its dining arsenal that could spar with some of the best in the nation. We may not always hold the largest in sheer numbers, the breadth of diversity, and, we may not always rank highest in the hallways of Condé Nast, but sometimes we frankly deserve a little more respect.

This week is another opportunity to help connect the dots. Widely participated events like AZRW (and others) assist in encouraging everyday diners to break from their often staid, routine trade routes, allowing them to discover local eating in an updated light.

AZRW 2010

I’m happily participating in AZRW as much as I can. Everyone should sincerely do the same, particularly in regard to the independent, one-of-a-kind establishments we need thriving so achingly⎯not the sleazy, overtly corporate spots that weaseled their way onto the list of otherwise standout participants.

For the local food-obsessed community in particular, we should never be satisfied with marginal rankings or ignorant perceptions. If you love Phoenix, if you love Tucson, if you love Arizona, we need to do a better job at selling what we already have to be proud of. What am I most excited about, every year? Observing freshman diners trying new restaurants, eating new foods, all the while discovering there’s more to their respective communities and neighborhoods than initially assumed.

Dependent on the restaurant level, special AZRW, three-course prix fixe menus are set at either $29 or $39 price points⎯some of which even work a glass of wine into the price. A very reasonable negotiation if you ask me.

What restaurants look interesting to you? Make your reservations, now.

AZRW attack plans? Pundits I respect–
+ Chef, author, critic Gwen Walter’s organizing: HERE
+ PR wizard, “food nerd” Ty Largo’s pointers: HERE

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