Saturday, October 25, 2014



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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Urban Vine

PHM0814Flash-1-6With his new CenPho bistro, culinary star Michael O’Dowd creates wine-ready country cuisine ripe for the plucking.

Contrary to its citified name, Urban Vine is anything but urban, vibe-wise. It feels more like you’re stepping into an old friend’s country cottage for a cozy evening of sipping wine, sharing a home-cooked meal and swapping stories by the fireplace.


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Henry’s Taiwan Kitchen

PHM 500x500 FPOStinky tofu? Tempe’s down-home Asian import excels at authentic nibbles and stuff for the faint of palate.

Chances are, when you walk into Henry’s Taiwan Kitchen, Chef Henry Ku will be there to greet you. He’ll even guide you through the extensive, authentic menu. This isn’t your typical Americanized Asian grub. Henry’s is the real deal.


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Steak 44

PHM0714Flash-1-5Attention, meat lovers: Another Mastro family miracle.

Do we really need another high-end steakhouse in the Valley? Based on how tricky it is to snag a prime-time dining reservation at Steak 44, the hottest table in town, I say: “Evidently so.” Even with a few dozen shrines to bovinity in our midst, we are insatiable. Steakhouses are primal magnets and we are drawn to their altar of sizzling beef, stiff bourbon and service bordering on excess.


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