Nikki Buchanan, Author at PHOENIX magazine - Page 2 of 14

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Photo by Nikki Buchanan   Mochi Donut with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt at The Local Donut I could probably go the rest of my life without eating a donut — or at least that was true until I belatedly discovered The Local Donut, a little South Scottsdale doughnut and pastry shop that isn’t too far from my house. I tried five doughnuts and liked them all, but two of them really stood out: the...

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The Mix Up Bar interior | Photo by Nikki Buchanan   The Mix Up Bar, tucked away to the left of T. Cook’s at the Royal Palms Resort & Spa, is one of my favorite places to hang out over a cocktail. Like the lovely old resort in which it’s nestled, the room is gracious, intimate and — if you time it right — blessedly quiet, the kind of place where you might strike up...

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  Photo by Nikki Buchanan   Chaufa Combo at Taste of Peru If you’re thinking this Peruvian dish looks remarkably like good old fashioned Chinese fried rice — but with more meat — bingo! That’s exactly what it is. “Chaufa” is a loanword from Cantonese that means “fried rice.” The Peruvians co-opted this dish from the Chinese laborers who worked on plantations and built railroads in Peru in the late 19th Century and early 20th...

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If you never quite got around to visiting Character — Peter Kasperski and Richie Moe’s cool New American in Roosevelt Row — it’s too late. You missed out. The restaurant, which opened late last November, has permanently closed. When I reached out to Kasperski about the news I’d heard, he sent me a text which said, “Despite the glowing reviews from food writers (thank you again), bloggers, Yelp, and local patrons, we couldn’t make the...

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  Photo by Nikki Buchanan    We’ve all noticed the increase in pop-ups and ghost kitchens since COVID-19 put a kink in day-to-day restaurant operations, but here’s a trend that seems to be thriving within the confines of the new normal: the commissary kitchen, cloud kitchen, virtual kitchen, shared-use commercial kitchen… there are a half dozen names for basically the same thing. Shared-use kitchens aren’t a new phenomenon, of course. Caterers and other small food...

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  Photo by Nikki Buchanan   1. Pernil Empanada at Republica Empanada I cannot explain such a lapse, but I shamefully admit to never having visited this small, winsome pan-Latin empanada emporium until this summer. Yes, I know, the place has been open for eight years now. I’m pathetic. My buddy and I tried a half dozen empanadas just to get the lay of the land, and we pretty much loved them all. They’re small...

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  Pigtails Downtown interior | Photo by Nikki Buchanan   Maybe I’ve read The Great Gatsby too many times, but I’m fascinated by the speakeasies of the ’20s and early ’30s — back when bars, liquor and the drinking of liquor were made illegal by the Volstead Act, which, of course, just encouraged people to seek out illegal bars selling illegal liquor, where they could happily drink illegally as long as they did it quietly...

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Photo by Mirelle Inglefield   If you’ve fallen in love with Chula Seafood and its many-splendored oceanic options — the poke bowls, the confit tuna sandwich, the Hatch chile tuna melt, the CA burrito, the chowder, the oysters, the daily specials — then you’ll be thrilled to know there’s a third location in the works. The new Chula will be in the former Hi-Health space in Hayden Peak Crossing at Hayden and Thompson Peak Parkway....

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I went to Flagstaff for a few days and, as always, loved everything about it — the weather, the NAU campus, the little shops and most of all, the fantastic restaurants. Here’s what I ate and loved. Tinderbox Kitchen 34 S. San Francisco St., 928-226-8400, tinderboxkitchen.com Owner Kevin Heinonen took advantage of the downtime during the pandemic to kick things up a notch at Tinderbox, refurbishing his cozy space and upgrading the menu. I had...

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For many of us Westerners, the word “Babel” conjures the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel, erected by Babylonians who aimed to reach for the heavens and incurred God’s wrath for their arrogance. But that’s not where Marwan Kandeel, the owner of De Babel — an upbeat Middle Eastern fast-casual in North Scottsdale — was going with the name at all. “Babel” is also the Hebrew word for Babylon, one of the ancient world’s...

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If you made it to Sherpa Kitchen in 2020, before the pandemic caused Subash and Chandra Yadav to close their doors in November of that year, then you know what a wonderful addition to the food community it was: a small, inviting Nepali restaurant born of a food truck (Everest Momo) beloved for its handmade Nepali dumplings called momos. Steamed or deep-fried, they were a revelation, whether set afloat in nourishing broth or tossed in...

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I fell in love with the Hawaiian plate lunch back in the ’80s. Not in Hawaii, where I somehow missed it, but at Aloha Kitchen in Mesa, the first Hawaiian fast-casual in town, if memory serves. Of course, nowadays, island cuisine can be found all over the Valley, and one of the newest places for an excellent Hawaiian plate lunch is Maui Hawaiian Grill in Tempe.   It’s a clean, well-lit place, but I can’t help noticing that men outnumber women here by something like 10-to-1, and I’m pretty...

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