Nikki Buchanan, Author at PHOENIX magazine

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Charles Barber looks happy tooling around in his new restaurant, a sleek North Phoenix spot he named Aftermath to reference what came before and what comes next for him. As you may already know, he partnered with Dom Ruggiero to open Hush Public House in 2019, Barber running the front of the house, Ruggiero manning the stove. The place was a runaway hit and remains wildly popular, but after two years, Barber was ready to...

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There’s been a seismic shakeup at Elements at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa, but the changes should be positive for all concerned, including us diners. Food Network super-star Beau MacMillan has resigned his longtime position there as executive chef, and Landon Post, the resort’s banquet chef for the past eight years, has taken MacMillan’s place. MacMillan has morphed to culinary advisor for the restaurant/resort, where he hopes to continue to build the Sanctuary brand,...

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Sottise exterior | Photo courtesy TJ Culp   Just in time for a little holiday frivolity, TJ Culp, chef-owner of Restaurant Progress, and his partner Esther Noh have launched Sottise, a winsome wine bar and restaurant in the Roosevelt Row arts district. Its French name, which means “folly” or “foolishness,” reflects the couple’s lighthearted approach to this venture: “Yeah, we’re a French-inspired wine bar, but let’s not take ourselves too seriously here when there’s wine...

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Kim Thao interior | Photo by Nikki Buchanan   Kim Thao is not one person but two: Kim Tran and Thao Nguyen, who met in a doctor’s office, became friends and decided to launch a Vietnamese bakery, market and take-out operation together. Kim is the cook; Thao runs the front of the house, and from the looks of things, they’ve already been embraced by the community since their mid-October opening. It’s easy to see why....

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Photo by Nikki Buchanan    Vegetarian Chili at Welcome Diner Usually, my chili craving kicks in around the time I break out the first sweater, but this fall has been so balmy that I just couldn’t wait — especially when I saw the descriptor on WD’s menu: house veggie chili topped with pimiento cheese and diced onion. It was the addition of pimiento cheese that sold me on this dish, but as it turned out,...

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Photo by Nikki Buchanan   Burratina, Prosciutto and Focaccia at Pa’La Downtown My beau and I put away course after delicious course at Pa’La Downtown recently, where executive chef and partner Jason Alford (a Roka Akor alum) turns out Japanese-inspired or Middle Eastern-inflected seafood dishes as well as the Italian classics for which chef and co-owner Claudio Urciuoli is best known. This is just one of many favorites, a simple dish that has Urciuoli written...

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Photo by Nikki Buchanan   Key Lime Pie at Lon’s at the Hermosa Inn The weather has been perfect for eating outdoors, and what better place to do that than Lon’s? I had a great lunch there the other day, one of the standouts being this key lime pie, topped with whipped cream, lime zest and toasted coconut. The graham cracker crust was especially buttery, and the tart custard filling, creamy with condensed milk, had...

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The Vanilla Gorilla interior | Photo by Nikki Buchanan   If you’re up on urban slang, you probably already know that “vanilla gorilla” is the term for a big, burly white guy. It’s also the shared nickname of feuding UFC fighters Chase Sherman and Jason Witt. More importantly, in my food-and-drink-loving world, it’s the moniker for a terrific new tap room and bottle shop that sits alongside Hush Public House in North Scottsdale. For all...

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Photo by Nikki Buchanan   Caviar and Crème Fraîche Crêpe at Christopher’s at the Wrigley Mansion Yep, it’s true. I have been to Christopher’s twice now. Lucky, lucky, lucky! And although much of the menu was the same as my first visit, we did find this lovely changeup: a dainty crêpe, adorned with flowering herbs and a glistening orb of Black River Oscietra caviar, positioned on its perch with a dab of house-made crème fraîche....

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Photo by Nikki Buchanan   Burrata & Beets at Francine Restaurant How I love Francine! The dining room is gorgeous, and the menu, which hovers around the south of France, offers so many appealing options that I struggle to confine myself to one or two courses. I began a recent blissful al fresco lunch with this inspired combo: a pure white orb of burrata overlaid with oven-softened wedges of golden beets. If you think you’ve...

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  Photo by Nikki Buchanan   Warm Chopped Vegetable Salad and Coconut Cream Cake at Arcadia Farms Café When Carolyn Ellis opened Arcadia Farms in a vintage house in Old Town back in 1990, she surely had no idea it would become the quintessential Scottsdale restaurant for discerning ladies who lunch. It’s not one of those cloying grandmotherly tea places crammed with doilies and antiques but rather a gracious retreat so pretty it could make...

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