Phoenix Food News Roundup

Local news and tidbits, fall 2009.

• Details are flowing in about Hillside Spot, the new gourmet specialty market and casual eatery in Ahwatukee (NWC 48th St. and Warner) helmed by the ever-controlled Gallo Blanco chef Doug Robson and former Olive & Ivy alumn Patrick Fegan. Located in the space vacated by the Coffee Plantation a couple of years ago, Hillside Spot currently serves breakfast and lunch, with a dinner menu being added in 2010.

• Five Guys’ first of two introductory Arizona locations is currently under construction on Mill Avenue in Tempe, inside a renovated space vacated by former java institution the Coffee Plantation. Expect the subsequent second location also in development to debut in Mesa, at Dana Park. After that, an eventual 40-50 locations are planned statewide. Gulp. My original story, go HERE.

• Smashburger’s first Arizona location is also currently under construction in Tempe, near University Drive and College Avenue. Opening date has been confirmed: Friday, October 2nd. Original story, go HERE.

• Downtown’s Public Market is close to unveiling its latest growth spurt next month with the Urban Grocery and Wine Bar. Opening tentatively set for the second or third week in October. For more in-depth info and pics by yours truly in the Downtown Phoenix Journal, go HERE.

• Royal at the Market, a stylish, pocket-sized coffee shop brought to us by some of the same principals behind the noble (and slightly larger) Royal Coffee Bar on Jackson St., just south of Downtown. Owners are hoping for a quiet, individual opening sometime in the next two weeks. For more in-depth info and pics by yours truly in the Downtown Phoenix Journal, go HERE. Update 10/05/2009: Royal at the Market is now open!

• As previously mentioned, Hula’s Modern Tiki in Midtown is now open. For more in-depth info and pics by yours truly in the Downtown Phoenix Journal, go HERE.

St. Francis quietly opened its doors to the public last week, and I was there opening night. For more in-depth info and pics by yours truly in the Downtown Phoenix Journal, go HERE.

• The annual Arizona Restaurant Week begins this Saturday, Sept. 19th. With even more worthy eateries throughout Phoenix (and Tucson) added to the list this year, make reservations now. Every participating restaurant offers a unique three-course tasting menu, priced $29 per person, or $58 per couple. Folks, that’s a deal.

Nobuo Fukuda continues his confidential sorting of Midtown real estate for his much anticipated, still as-yet-untitled new Japanese eatery. As many already know, his previous restaurant, Scottsdale’s nationally acclaimed Sea Saw, shuttered this past June. Since that unfortunate hemorrhage fans in the interim are being blessed with the chef’s freelance work. Notably, the recent dining event he hosted at Downtown’s Welcome Diner, and an upcoming gig at NOCA later this month. Expect the location of his new Midtown eatery to be publicly announced soon.

• Need new reasons to support local, independent restaurants? Check out the latest statewide campaign Dine 4 AZ.

• Adventurous local chef Matt Carter (Zinc Bistro, The Misson) humbly opened his new Downtown venture last month, the upscale Asian restaurant Nine|05, in a completely re-imagined indoor-outdoor space. Let the misinformation and remaining confusion end now—this restaurant’s concept, menu, décor and atmosphere are all new, unique, and completely unrelated to the location’s previous occupant: Fate, chef Johnny Chu‘s once-loved Asian bistro which shuttered a month prior (those “fatefully” sentimental can find the venerable Chu down the street at his subsequent concept Sens).

• Remaining open during construction, Sanctuary Resort’s trophy restaurant Elements (Executive Chef Beau MacMillan) finally began its planned renovation and expansion last month. To be completed by this winter, highlights include: new kitchen almost entirely exposed to the main dining room, a new bar area for solo diners (and parties wanting front-row seating to the kitchen’s action), and, thanks to the added feature of new floor-to-ceiling, folding glass windows surrounding the main dining space, a reconfigured indoor-outdoor experience will exist for patrons during Phoenix’s more pleasurably-weathered months.

• Precious, quirky independent candy shop Smeeks finally opened in late July on Midtown’s northern fringe. Brought to us by the same owners of neighboring Frances clothing boutique, Smeeks is located along the same commerical strip facing Camelback Rd., barely west of Central Ave.

• Do you remember Justin’s Grub of the Week? Yeah, me either. My weekly designation of foods loved and adored will be revisited in brief time. Does somebody smell burnt popcorn?

New reviews, previews and impressions coming soon of 25 Degrees, Metro Brasserie, St. Francis (more in-depth coverage) and Postino Central.

(Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for more.)

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