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Apr 21, 2009 06:57 PM

Dinner in downtown PHX?

My mom is taking me out to dinner Friday for my birthday, my choice. We work downtown (near City Hall, 3rd Ave and Washington) and it'll be easier to stay in the area. I live in Central Scottsdale, and most of my dining is around there/Old Town. I was thinking maybe Lisa G or Barrio, but am open to whatever different suggestions you guys may have. I'm not looking for anything too fancy or anything, just good food. Thanks!

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  1. PastaBar is a great new choice for Downtown! Do a quick search here and you'll see what they've got going on. Very good food, staff is friendly, and the location is very comfortable....not too fancy or stuffy.

    *Lisa G has this sesame seed gelato 'bowl' that would be an incredible dessert for celebrating a birthday.....yum....Happy Birthday!

    1. I think for a birthday celebration, Coronado Cafe would be a good choice.

      1. Can you set some parameters on "stay in the area"? If you're considering Lisa G or Barrio Cafe, it sounds like you're driving and willing to travel outside of Downtown into nearby residential neighborhods. Is that your preference, or are you looking for places you can reach on foot from your office?

        Assuming the latter, I would suggest any of the following:

        Cibo -- nice craft pizzera, also has nice antipasto and crepes for dessert
        Sens -- Asian tapas; nice if you want to linger over drinks and sample lots of things
        Moira -- Stylish new Japanese restaurant
        PastaBAR -- as stated above
        District -- All-American restaurant at the Sheraton; emphasis on local ingredients

        603 N. 5th Ave., Phoenix, AZ 850103

        705 N 1st Street 120, Phoenix, AZ 85004

        Pasta Bar
        705 N 1st Street 110, Phoenix, AZ 85004

        340 N 3rd Street, Phoenix, AZ

        Moira Sushi
        215 E McKinley St #102, Phoenix, AZ

        12 Replies
        1. re: silverbear

          With the exception of District (which I don't know much about), this is pretty much the list I was putting together in my head before I dozed off in front of the computer last night. :-)

          1. re: silverbear

            We're willing to drive--the main idea is just to go somewhere that's closer to work than home. And thanks for the Cibo reminder--I've been meaning to stop by there for a while now, and it actually is walking distance.

            1. re: silverbear

              We stopped at District the other night pre-show, and we were very impressed. Good service, nice space, interesting menu with a local emphasis as silverbear mentioned, and verrrry generous wine pours. It is now on my shortlist for down-town meetups.

              1. re: themis

                did you try dinner? ive been consistently underwhelmed with anything other than happy hour there. lunch was the most disappointing, followed by dinner. breakfast wasn't bad. the people are very nice, and i love the free valet. but the food is missing something for me.

                1. re: winedubar

                  No -- but then, when I am downtown, I am not looking for dinner. I am generally looking for a happy hour place or a place to drink after the theater. On the whole, I tend to prefer small plates kinds of places than traditional full dinner places, even. But I could see finding it disappointing; the space is very stylish and it is a hotel lobby, after all. I could imagine they might be aiming more middle-of-the-road than you or I would be hoping for.

                  1. re: winedubar

                    I had dinner there the other night. It was underwhelming. The appetizers were really quite good, but the dinner entrees were very disappointing. Creative, but no magic... in some cases no common sense...

                    Best to leave the District for after work cocktails and apps

                2. re: silverbear

                  SB or Hohokam, have you tried Moira?

                  1. re: yamalam

                    I haven't been yet and probably won't have a chance to try it until a few weeks from now.

                    1. re: yamalam

                      ive been to moira, for dinner and lunch..its great looking inside...the chef is related to johnny chu of fate/sens fame (or so we've been told) and the food was great. they have loads of interesting cocktails, an interesting rating system for sake (to tell what is more dry/sweet/etc), and good sushi..the food is fushion (vietnamese inspired stuffed grape leaves, for example, were the clear hit of the dinner), some hotpots, and alot of funky rollls.

                      our server was a bit nervous, and the himachi wasn't very good. they were very gracious, and took it away and off the bill.

                      it's not hana, but its very good.

                      1. re: yamalam

                        Yes, two meals at Moira so far. It's a work in progress, but I've been pleased for the most part.

                        things I liked:

                        very nice, creative rolls -- restrained with ingredients, no cream cheese overload
                        most generous portion of seaweed salad I've ever been served
                        nice gyoza, age crab, and other cooked dishes
                        fresh grated real wasabi available
                        nice beverage selection
                        smoked salmon and toro nigiri good
                        brilliant urbanist design -- ground floor retail in a multistory building

                        areas for improvement:

                        service polite but still finding its way on the details
                        mackerel nigiri seemed past its prime

                        1. re: silverbear

                          mackerel nigiri can be a challenge -- it has a high oil content and spoils easily. The most common variety, saba, is almost always cured for this reason. Lately I have been getting aji (spanish mackerel or horse mackerel) which seem to not require the same curing; since they are so small you often end up using the whole fish for one serving, and then having the bones deep fried - delicious!

                          I may try this since I am headed downtown for a concert this week, but it's just a little further from the concert hall than I would like to walk, and there is a thread on Yelp regarding this place that isn't too favorable.

                        2. re: yamalam

                          I tried Moira last night had one of their special rolls ($14), rainbow roll, and shrimp gyoza. It was good but I would much rather spend the same money at Yasu which BTW I had my second great meal there one week ago. It's a cool concept great menu but wouldn't go out of my way to eat there.

                      2. cibo is personally I think the best bet downtown, haven't tried Hanny's but heard good things.

                        Have Fun!

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: drewb123

                          Hanny's reminds me of Denny's with a liquor license.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            Ha, maybe we'll skip Hanny's then. If I'm going to Denny's, it's most likely the one in downtown Scottsdale, not Phoenix, and at that point, a liquor license is the LAST of my worries. ;)

                            1. re: meleyna

                              if that denny's had a historic building, with a multi-million dollar award winning renovation, great funky bathrooms a la az88 (because it's the same folks as az88, natch), impressive, modernist furniture and prosciutto, then yeah, its like a dennys with a liquor license.

                              i don't get the comparison at all.

                                1. re: winedubar

                                  Try the food, then you'll get the comparo.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    WOW!!! i will def not be trying it any time soon.

                                    1. re: drewb123

                                      I think winedubar has tried the food, and so have I. You should give it a try drew, and Meyleyna, I don't think hanny's would be right for a birthday celebration, but since you work downtown, it's a great happy hour or lunch place that you should check out int he future. Their pizzas aren't as good as Bianco or Humble Pie, but are on par with say, Sauce, and their cocktails rock.

                                      1. re: yamalam

                                        yes, ive tried the food many times. i liked it..its a bar, wiith some food. the atmosphere is top notch, their pimms cup is delicious, and the food is quite tasty. the roast beef sandwich with fried egg and bacon is stellar.

                                        1. re: winedubar

                                          I really like Hanny's, and a lot of other people do too. They have great salads, and I also enjoy the simplicity of their pizzas too. It is nothing like Denny's. You are being silly with that comparison.

                          2. I am surprised no one has mentioned Kincaids. I have not tried it for dinner but stopped in for their happy hour (all appetizers are half off) before a Diamondbacks game last week and enjoyed what I had (three very good Kobe meatloaf sliders for $4 versus my Diamondbacks dog at the ballpark for $5. Nice looking bar and dining room. Perhaps someone who has dined there can provide a better update.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Poerz

                              Kincaid's is a solid contender. Not necessarily innovative, but never really bad either. I like the emphasis on fresh seafood, including Copper River salmon coming soon!

                              1. re: silverbear

                                Kincaid's is probably my favorite place to go before the Symphony -- it's right around the corner and the happy hour is exceptional, though the "serving towers" used for apps can be a little daunting. I haven't ordered dinner there but I managed to get one that was prepared in error for another table -- halibut cheeks with asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes. Not overly fancy but definitely not ordinary. I really like the place.

                                As for Copper River salmon, I only indulged once last year and may not again. A NY Times editorial ( had a profound effect on me.

                                1. re: zencker

                                  Couldn't add the link to my earlier post:

                                  Kincaid's Fish Chop/Steakhouse
                                  2 South Third Street, Phoenix, AZ 85004

                                  1. re: zencker

                                    Kincaid's is on the westbound light rail and just a block off the eastbound light rail. If you're going to a ball game and want a pre-game dinner or apps it's really convenient and much less expensive to park in one of the light rail park and ride lots and ride the train.