Just like the sunshine, the food scene in Phoenix is abundant. Also like the sunshine, it’s hot, hot, hot. The Valley is home to a diverse lineup of creative up-and-coming chefs and resourceful restaurateurs who are boundlessly pushing the envelope, and really, reinventing Arizona’s culinary landscape from Downtown to Arcadia. We’ve watched them pivot over the course of a pandemic. They’ve come up with inventive new ways to run restaurants.
A group of friends travel to Vietnam and Japan seeking inspiration, in the end coming away with a deeper respect for the cultures and cuisines of both countries. It may sound like the premise for a raunchy comedy flick, but in fact, it is the origin story behind Belly, one of West Phoenix’s newest eateries. While its head chef and one of the co-owners, Michael Babcock, laughed heartily during the tale’s telling, he demurred when it came to sharing any Hangover-style antics that may or may not have occurred during the group’s gastronomical globetrotting.
In early March, during a feast at Sherpa Kitchen, I said to food editor Lauren Cusimano something like, “Damn, this place is definitely going to make our year-end best restaurants list.” Fate intervened. Sherpa Kitchen, like so many other restaurants in 2020, has closed. Late in the meal, inhaled when Arizona's total case numbers had yet to reach double digits, I said, “Hey, do you think we should cover the coronavirus?”
The Melrose District, especially the Melrose Curve along Seventh Avenue in central Phoenix, is one of the most colorful neighborhoods in the city. Here, you'll find TV repair shops, music shops, bike shops, antique stores, salons, retro outfitters.
After an eight-month delay, Belly — Phoenix's new southeast Asian-influenced restaurant and cocktail bar — is set to make its grand opening. As of Nov. 11, the restaurant is opening with the same concept that was first announced August 2019, but with a takeout approach.
Instrumental Hospitality Group is a new bar-and-restaurant team formed by Michael Babcock and Wayne Coats, formerly of Welcome Hospitality, along with Paul Waxman and Robert Cissell (the group is so named because they’re all local musicians as well). Last summer, they announced their first project, Belly, a two-story Southeast Asian kitchen and cocktail bar at 4971 North Seventh Avenue.
This week, we caught up with Michael Babcock and Wayne Coats, best known for their past work at Welcome Diner and now partners at Instrumental Hospitality. With two other partners, Paul Waxman and Robert Cissell, they had planned to open a two-story southeast Asian eatery in spring 2020. But Belly has been delayed. And the restaurant scene has capsized.
A little while ago, one of Michael Babcock's friends told him he was dropping off a somewhat unusual gift: 25 pounds of ground beef. The unusual gift led to an unusual plan.
As the end of the year approaches, we're already hungry for what's coming in 2020. Fast-growing metro Phoenix already has a growing slate of new restaurants lined up, from French-influenced dining in an elegant setting to an Asian-American supermarket with a massive fan following.
Under the kind of fall weather Phoenicians fantasize about during the summer slog, WayneFest 2019 filled Coronado Park in downtown Phoenix with an eclectic array of food samples, local music, and friends from the surrounding Coronado neighborhood and beyond.
Phoenix musicians are behind some of the most popular bars and restaurants in town.
Held at The Van Buren, the first Phoenix Unknown food and music festival and night market brought a world's worth of food and music to downtown on Friday, September 13. Savory foods sizzled as a variety of sounds filled the air, creating a unique delight for foodies and music lovers alike.
The inaugural but already heavily anticipated Phoenix Unknown: World Food & Music Night Market will bring more than 30 food vendors to The Van Buren from 7 p.m. till midnight on Friday, September 13. Small bites and drinks from around the globe will be offered, all from Phoenix-area restaurants representing regional eats from Africa, Europe, and South America.
From 2007 to 2009, friends and I were seeing bands like Dear and the Headlights, The Morning Kennedy Was Shot, and others at spots like The Sets, Modified Arts, and The One Place. It was pre-rideshare, but most of us didn’t drink yet, anyway. We’d pile into someone’s car heading for Tempe, downtown Phoenix, sometimes Mesa, or just meet to hang in the parking lot, watching the bands and promoters bustle around.
RESTAURANT NEWS Instrumental Hospitality Reveals First Project — a New Restaurant in the Melrose District LAUREN CUSIMANO AUGUST 20, 2019 10:05AM Belly is set to open in spring 2020. Belly is set to open in spring 2020. AWE Collective Instrumental Hospitality Group is a new bar and restaurant team formed by Michael Babcock and Wayne Coats, formerly of Welcome Hospitality, along with Paul Waxman and Robert Cissell. The group wanted to give their new company a name first, because they plan on creating a couple of projects under that umbrella.
Later this year, central Phoenix's Melrose neighborhood will become home to a new food and beverage concept from one of Valley's most promising up-and-coming restaurant groups. Called Belly, the "Southeast Asian kitchen and bar," will open on the southeast corner of Seventh Avenue and Camelback Road in the coming months.
I remember the first time I stopped in at Welcome Diner, even if I can’t remember the date. They had just settled into a convert trailer off of Roosevelt and 10th Street and I was in the neighborhood for a house show just across the street. There was furniture hobbled together in front of the trailer and iced tea was served in mason jars. Of course, I didn’t have time to order (that time) because the police were already busting up my boyfriend(now husband)’s show across the street because the homeowners forgot to secure permits for their impromptu First Friday concert.
The well-known restaurant duo Michael Babcock and Wayne Coats, along with Paul Waxman and Robert Cissell, also from the industry, have formed Instrumental Hospitality Group. And they're already planning new concepts.
Long home to retail and dining options, Agritopia — the 11-acre organic farm and mixed-use development in Gilbert — is set to dramatically expand its culinary footprint later this year (or early next) through a new project called Epicenter.