DeSoto Central Market in Phoenix Serves Great Food but Has Some Growing to Do

Categories: First Taste

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Lauren Saria
Hoppin' John, a classic dish of rice and peas, from yard bird + larder at the DeSoto Central Market.
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

Restaurant: DeSoto Central Market
Location: 915 North Central Avenue
Open: About two weeks
Eats: Burgers, Southern cuisine, Latin-Asian fusion, salads
Price: $15/person

When you get your first look inside the DeSoto Central Market, it's hard not to be impressed. The sentiment may result from the building's sheer size (it's 17,138 square feet, to be exact) or the beauty of the original concrete walls and exposed wooden beams. In any case, the space -- with its historical touches and abundance of natural light -- shines.

But getting inside the building may prove more difficult than you'd expect. Though the space is grand, it lacks a grand entrance, just one of a number of small but important oversights that may leave some customers confused.


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Corduroy in Midtown Phoenix Is Not Really a Tapas Bar -- But It Does Have Good Cocktails

Categories: First Taste

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Lauren Saria
An open-faced smoked trout sandwich from Corduroy in Phoenix.
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

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Lauren Saria
Inside Corduroy
Restaurant: Corduroy
Location: 2601 North Central Avenue
Open: About two weeks
Eats: Small plates, sandwiches, salads
Price: $20+/person

Tom Jetland and the team behind such popular mid/downtown spots as Fez, Switch, and Pizza People Pub have added a stylish new restaurant to their growing group. And with a menu dominated by globally inspired small plates, the new addition, called Corduroy, gives neighborhood diners plenty of new dishes to try.

Though the name doesn't seem to fit the restaurant's "tapas style" cuisine, the space, formerly a Schlotsky's deli, seems just as polished as you would expect given the team behind it. The combination of exposed brick, stained glass, and richly patterned metal ceiling panels lands you somewhere between a 1920s speakeasy and a modern Spanish eatery. In addition to a large dining room, Corduroy offers a covered patio and full bar.

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Forno 301 Brings More Good Pizza and Excellent Desserts to Downtown Phoenix

Categories: First Taste

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Lauren Saria
The 301 Pizza from Forno 301 in Downtown Phoenix.
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

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Lauren Saria
Inside Forno 301
Restaurant: Forno 301
Location: 301 W. Roosevelt, Phoenix
Open: About three weeks
Eats: Pizza
Price: $15/person

In Phoenix -- particularly in Downtown and Central Phoenix -- you can have nearly any kind of pizza you want. Classic Neopolitan? Sure. Thin-crust, East Coast-style? Yup. Even build-your-own, fast-casual pizza and greasy delivery.

So what could yet another downtown Phoenix pizzeria have to offer that you won't find any of the many, many other pizza spots in the 'hood?

How about a duo of friendly Italians guys who enjoy turning up the tunes and dancing in the dining room to entertain themselves during the post-lunch lull. Yes, what unique happening is only likely to be found at Forno 301.


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Freshbox In Scottsdale: Locally Sourced "Healthy Fast Food" at Fancy-Food Prices

Categories: First Taste

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Zaida Dedolph
Freshbox is a local shop with all the hallmarks of a chain.

When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

Freshbox, a new "Healthy Fast Food" restaurant, opened in Scottsdale in March. The concept is simple: housemade soups, salads, juices and wraps made-to-order from locally sourced ingredients.


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Twisted Grove Parlor + Bar in Scottsdale: Oysters, Salads, and Housemade Ricotta for Dessert

Categories: First Taste

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Lauren Saria
Twisted Grove in Scottsdale is an approachable neighborhood restaurant.
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

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Lauren Saria
Twisted Grove in Scottsdale
Restaurant: Twisted Grove
(formerly Twisted Root)
Location: 8220 North Hayden Road
Open: Almost a month
Eats: American
Price: $25+/person

With Wally's American Pub and Grassroots Kitchen and Tap, chef Chris Collins mastered the art of opening and operating a neighborhood restaurant. The ingredients are pretty simple: a menu that's safe but feels fresh, service that's casual and friendly, and an atmosphere that makes your clientele feel at ease.

And knowing of his other restaurants' success, it should come as no surprise that Collins' latest endeavor also delivers all three of those things.


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FrinGo's Kitchen in Chandler Serves Seriously Homestyle Puerto Rican Food

Categories: First Taste

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Lauren Saria
FrinGo's Kitchen serves Puetro Rican fare in a Chandler strip mall.
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

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Lauren Saria
FrinGo's Kitchen
Restaurant: FrinGo's Kitchen
Location: 2160 North Alma School Road, Suite 116, Chandler
Open: About a month
Eats: Puerto Rican
Price: $10/person

We wouldn't blame you for thinking, "Well, this place can't be that good. It doesn't even have mofongo," when you first look at the menu at FrinGo's Kitchen. After all, the mashed plantain dish is pretty much a staple of Puerto Rican cuisine.

But then you pick what you do want from the compact menu, and the man behind the counter turns to the kitchen says, "Ma!" and recites your order to a woman in the kitchen.

Suddenly, you have hope.


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Milk Bar Brings Polish Eats and European Style to Downtown Phoenix

Categories: First Taste

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Lauren Saria
A place to get pierogi and Polish beer? We'll take it.
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

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Lauren Saria
Milk Bar in downtown Phoenix
Restaurant: Milk Bar
Location: 801 North Third Street
Open: About three weeks
Eats: Polish
Price: $10 to $15/person

"This would do well in Chicago," remarks the guy sitting at the next table over.

And he's probably right. But on a Thursday evening, despite its high-visibility location in downtown Phoenix, the newly opened Milk Bar is mostly empty.

The restaurant's odd name becomes less odd when you learn it's the English translation of bar mleczny, the name of the Polish dining institution that dates back to the Communist Era. These bar/restaurants served simple, traditional Polish food to laborers back then, and this Milk Bar aims to bring the tradition into the modern era.

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Kale & Clover in Scottsdale Does Health Food Right

Categories: First Taste

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Lauren Saria
It's easy to be enchanted by the comfortable design at restaurateur German Osio's latest spot.
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

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Lauren Saria
Inside the dining room at Kale & Clover
Restaurant: Kale & Clover
Location: 20511 N. Hayden Road
Open: About three weeks
Eats: Health food
Price: $15-$20/person

Sitting on the patio at Kale & Clover in Scottsdale with a plastic glass full of Arizona-made wine can feel almost as comfortable as sitting at home. With strings of lights floating overhead and plush outdoor furniture to sink into, this latest spot from local restaurateur German Osio (Local Bistro, Central Bistro, SumoMaya) is both a stylish dining destination and an unpretentious place to enjoy a leisurely meal.

The food here, according to the restaurant's tagline, is "mindful." But the word doesn't just refer to the fact that the menu focuses on healthy, mostly vegetarian eats. We were happy to find that each of the dishes we tried on our visit were also carefully prepared and most important, easy to enjoy.


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Aaron May's The Yacht Club in Arcadia Isn't Sailing Smoothly Quite Yet

Categories: First Taste

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Lauren Saria
Charred octopus at The Yacht Club needed a little more char.
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

Restaurant: The Yacht Club
Location: 4231 Indian School Road, Phoenix
Open: About a week
Eats: Seafood
Price: $20+ per person

Seafood is having a moment right now in Phoenix. Maybe it's because we desert inhabitants need to taste the saltiness of the ocean every now and then -- if only in oyster form -- or maybe it's because we're finally revolting at being known for as long as "steak and potatoes" kind of town. Either way, there's been a serious influx of East Coast-inspired seafood restaurants cropping up in, of all places, Phoenix.

The myth that it's impossible to get good seafood in our dry and landlocked state has been false for years, and to prove that you really don't have to look very hard. There are several places in town that serve fresh, and well-prepared seafood.

Unfortunately, right now, chef Aaron May's Yacht Club isn't one of them.

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Jorge's Chicken and Waffles in Tempe Has a Chicken and Waffle Cone -- and It's Not Bad

Categories: First Taste

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Lauren Saria
Chicken and waffles from Jorge's Chicken and Waffles in Tempe
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

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Lauren Saria
Inside Jorge's Chicken and Waffles
Restaurant: Jorge's Chicken and Waffles
Location: 1212 E. Apache Blvd, Tempe
Open: About a month
Eats: Chicken & waffles, Mexican
Price: $15 and under/person

Jorge's Chicken and Waffles. Even the name is intriguing. And when you look at the menu -- a diverse assortment of dishes that includes fried chicken, Belgian waffles, and carne asada tacos -- this new Tempe restaurant is at least worth a try.

Located next-door to Curry Corner, the 3,200-square-foot Jorge's Chicken and Waffles offers a large dining room and a side patio with views of busy Apache Boulevard, as well as a full bar. We stopped by for an early Friday dinner, and enjoyed a quiet meal in a mostly empty restaurant.

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