Saturday, December 20, 2014



Little Miss BBQ

PHM1014Flash-7-MissBBQLilliputian ‘cue joint wins big with moist,
slow-smoked meats and savory sides.

Little Miss BBQ is one smoking hot mama. Drive past the tiny one-room restaurant during business hours and you’ll likely spy a long line of hungry patrons-to-be outside, their fingers figuratively crossed in hopes of deterring the now-familiar “sold out” sign.


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Southern Rail

PHM1014Flash-6-SouthernRailChef Justin Beckett conducts a delectable whistle-stop tour of Southern culinary traditions at his new high-toned Camelback eatery.

Slow cooking, a traditional pillar of Southern cuisine, demands a large helping of patience. So does launching a restaurant inside a hotly-anticipated urban infill project.


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Cha Da Thai

cha da thaiRare tastes of Bangkok street classics elevate this Thai mom-and-pop to “pseudo-destination” status.

Dollars to duck panang there’s a decent Thai restaurant in your neighborhood, so getting in your car to drive to another one doesn’t make sense, unless the other one is the barely year-old Cha Da Thai. While not ostensibly destination dining – it’s a pretty modest-looking operation – Cha Da is worth seeking out thanks to an adventurous menu that transcends the typical American-Thai litany of satay, tangy noodles and fragrant tom kha soups.


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Urban Taco

urban tacoPhoenix’s newest taqueria takes the high road with superb salsas and terrific tacos.

With taco shops sprouting up across the Valley at a breakneck pace, can we squeeze in one more? Enter Urban Taco, a recently opened Mexi-pub in North Central Phoenix that distinguishes itself by serving a slew of house-made salsas to enhance its crowd-pleasing designer tacos and burritos.


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Sumo Maya

sumo mayaScottsdale’s new Mex-Asian concept doubles the fun with infectious energy and innovative fusion fare.

Chef Herb Wilson and Sumo Maya seem like a predestined marriage. The New York native and contestant on the Food Network show Beat Bobby Flay was a shortlist unto himself to helm the new Latin-Asian smash-up from local restaurateur German Osio, given his last place of employment: Sushi Samba in Las Vegas, where he performed a similar culinary high-wire act.


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Flower Child

PHM0814EB10Sam Fox launches another salvo in the health food revolution with this groovy Camelback café.

Author Michael Pollan’s 2008 manifesto In Defense of Food ignited a culinary revolution. His advice: Avoid processed foods, eat plants and buy ingredients your great-grandparents would recognize.

Serial restaurateur Sam Fox embraces a similar doctrine at Flower Child, a fast-casual Arcadia eatery that discriminates against gluten and purges all refined sugars. While not as spot-on as Fox’s True Food Kitchen, Flower Child will please Pollanites and other waist-watchers with fresh, local produce and clean-tasting grub.


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Pho Avina

PHM0814EB07Big menu. Big flavors. But rarely a big bill at this innovative West Valley noodle house.

I ordered and ate, oh, roughly two dozen items at Pho Avina before forming a critical opinion of the place, but something tells me I’ve still only scratched the surface of this Vietnamese gem. The multi-page menu is a labyrinth, and there’s a prize around every lemongrass- and ginger-scented turn.

Whatever the no-frills, boxy West Valley restaurant lacks in physical charm, it more than makes up for with efficient service and vivid examples of a kitchen fulfilling the full, refreshing, palate-enlivening potential of Vietnamese cuisine. Come at lunch and the tables are filled with students and what appears to be multiple U.N. delegations – the restaurant is across the street from ASU West and around the corner from Thunderbird School of Global Management.


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