We all know the wonderfulness that is Phoenix’s Matt’s Big Breakfast and Pizzeria Bianco. (Ever tried to get a table at one of these joints?) And now downtown Phoenix is growing even more so as a dining destination as it is home of a slew of new, must-try restaurants.
- District American Kitchen & Wine Bar I had the pleasure of dining at District, at the cool, contemporary new Sheraton Phoenix Downtown, last week. The restaurant decor was quite sleek, especially in the lounge leading up to the dining room. The steamed mussels in a habanero-chive broth, with oven-roasted tomatoes, was my favorite menu item. Though the mussels are a “small plate” item, there are plenty to go around–great for sharing or even to have as your meal. The lobster pierogi–a new menu item–were also delish, but be sure to order the maple-infused sauce on the side. I also recommend the incredibly rich chocolate cake. Get it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yum. District also recently debuted a new “nine at noon” menu in which diners can order a meal for a cool $5, $7 or $9. 320 N. 3rd St., Phoenix, 602.817.5400, www.districtrestaurant.com.
- PastaBAR Carb lovers, rejoice! This downtown destination, brought to you by Wade Moises, formerly of Sassi, has one thing on its mind: fresh, fabulous pasta. The menu ranges from simple eats like Bavette al Cedro with lemon, Italian butter and Parmigiano to meaty offerings like Fettuccini Tagliatta with charred rib-eye, arugula, cherry tomatoes and Parmigiano. There’s even a ravioli of the day. Plus, PastaBAR features the goods of many local farms. 705 N. First St., Phoenix, 602.687.8704, www.pastabaraz.com.
- Hanny’s Pizzas, sandwiches, salads and cocktails are the name of the game at Hanny’s. We suggest the prosciutto-topped pizza (it also features arugula and Parmigiano-Reggiano). Plus, this newish restaurant is undeniably handsome–it does come from Karl Kopp, the dude behind AZ88. 40 N. First St., Phoenix, 602.252.2285, www.hannys.net.
- The Breadfruit I first got a taste of this Jamaican grill a few weeks ago at the West of Western Culinary Festival–and I can’t wait to go to the restaurant for more. This culinary charmer offers several taste bud-tantalizing menu items like jerk chicken or shrimp and coconut-curried tofu. Plus, the sides sound divine. Plantain-avocado spring rolls? Coconut-steamed veggies? Yes and yes. 108 E. Pierce St., Phoenix, 602.267.1266, www.thebreadfruit.com.
- Sens Asian Tapas & Sake Bar Executive Chef Johnny Chu brings a selection of meaty and vegetarian offerings to his new downtown dining digs (even the restaurant’s name makes us want to dig in). You’ll find everything from a ginger-mint duck salad to fried quail to La Nho, which is lemongrass-marinated beef wrapped in grape leaves. 705 N. 1st St. #120, Phoenix, 602.340.9777, www.sensake.com.
- The Turf Restaurant & Pub Touted as the “contemporary Irish experience,” diners can get all the usual suspects–corned beef and cabbage, bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie and fish and chips–plus a few extras, such as salads and burgers. Oh, and Guinness. We mustn’t forget about that. 705 N. First St., Phoenix, 602.296.5043, www.theturfpub.com.