From now until we publish the 2016 edition of Best of Phoenix, New Times is naming 100 Tastemakers — members of our local culinary community who help shape the way we eat, drink, and think about food in Phoenix. Some you'll know, and for others, it'll be a first introduction, but each person on our list deserves a nod for helping make our city so delicious. Oh, and while you're here, be sure to check out our list of 100 Creatives.
Next up, downtown Tempe's restaurant tycoon.
95. Julian Wright of Pedal Haus Brewery
Have you ever had a drink or a meal on Mill Avenue? If you have (and you probably have), it's quite likely you've dined or imbibed at one of Julian Wright's restaurants or bars. If Mill Avenue was a Monopoly board, then this guy is rolling in properties and hotels while everyone else is still stuck in jail.
Wright started his career in the industry long before he graduated from college (ASU '95) or opened his first restaurant. His first job was washing dishes in Boyertown, Pennsylvania, in 1987 — a full 13 years before he opened his first concept, Jax Thai Bar and Grill, in the summer of 2000. Since then, he's opened a slew of spots, including Mill Ave stalwarts such as La Bocca Pizzeria, Canteen Modern Tequila Bar, and Handlebar Tempe.
As a self-described "hands-on owner," Wright's often heavily involved in conceptualizing, designing, and running his businesses. You may be familiar with his latest venture, Pedal Haus Brewery, a giant new destination for beer fans located near the AMC Centerpoint 11 movie theater. The brewery, restaurant, and bar was inspired by Wright's love of traveling through Europe, where he was born and still has family.
Wright lives in downtown Tempe and today, he dishes on the best thing about the city and his go-to spot for a hangover breakfast.
My go-to place for a good date spot in Phoenix is Quiessence at The Farm South Mountain. Amazing property and incredible food.
The best kept secret in Phoenix is the Mexican food at Crescent Ballroom.
The best thing about Tempe is the people and the active lifestyle.
My dream restaurant would be one that was open one hour a day and made lots of money.
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My favorite place for a hangover breakfast is Harlow's Cafe because it's a good spot to go solo and sit at the counter.
The 2016 Tastemakers so far:
100. Aaron Chamberlin of St. Francis and Phoenix Public Market Cafe
99. Ross Simon of Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour
98. Debby Wolvos of DW Photography
97. Anibal and Salem Beyene of Café Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant
96. Bo Mostow of Uptown Farmers Market