Metro Phoenix has seen its share of high-profile openings this year, including chef Scott Conant's highly anticipated Mora Italian, the first Arizona location of Tacos Tequila Whiskey, and Sam Fox's latest hit, Doughbird.
More recently, we've seen the debut of novel concepts like Camp Social, a camping-themed restaurant that just opened on Seventh Street in uptown Phoenix.
But those are just a few of the new spots popping up on the Valley's dining map. Metro Phoenix chefs and restaurateurs — many of them familiar names — are set to debut more new restaurants before year's end. As we enter the second half of 2017, let's take a peek at what they have in store for us in the coming weeks and months.
Gallo Blanco Cafe
Summer is not exactly peak season for restaurant openings in metro Phoenix, but at least one highly anticipated opening happened last week. Chef Doug Robson's much-loved Gallo Blanco Cafe, formerly located at the Clarendon Hotel, is made its return to the Valley on July 1. The new Gallo Blanco is located on the corner of 10th and Pierce streets in downtown Phoenix's Garfield neighborhood, in a historic brick building that once housed the American Way Market. You can expect to find ceviche, pozole, menudo, tortas,and homemade horchata on the menu.
New Wave Market
After months of anticipation, Super Chunk Sweets & Treats' sister concept finally debuted in Old Town Scottsdale on Saturday, July 8. Located next door to Super Chunk, New Wave Market features a cafe and market stocked with products from small-batch food makers, and by this fall, will also include a dessert bar. The menu will expand on the selection of fresh-baked breads and baked goods available next door, along with grab-and-go lunch items and coffee drinks made from locally roasted Peixoto Coffee. Owners Sergio and Country Velador also plan to use the expanded space to host baking and other craft-related classes.
Taco Chelo, described as a collaboration between chef Suny Santana, artist Gennaro Garcia, and restaurateur Aaron Chamberlin, will debut later this summer on Roosevelt and Fifth streets in Phoenix. The restaurant aims to deliver a short, well-executed menu of tacos, verduras (vegetables), and a rotating selection of daily specials. The restaurant will nixtamalize corn for its house-made tortillas, an ancient process for producing masa that involves soaking the kernels in a solution of wood ash or limestone and water. Expect to find a well-stocked bar with an assortment of Mexican wines and agave-based spirits. The restaurant will feature design work and original art from Garcia, which promises to make Taco Chelo one of the most visually compelling new spots to open this year. Look for it to open in late August.
OBON Sushi Bar Ramen
A second location of downtown Tucson's popular OBON Sushi Bar Ramen is opening at the Scottsdale Quarter in north Scottsdale later this summer. The restaurant will take over the spot formerly occupied by TK's Urban Tavern. OBON has become a late-night favorite in Tucson for treats like steamed buns filled with fried Spam and braised pork belly, and for inspired drinks like the Space Oddity, a David Bowie tribute cocktail featuring squid ink and edible glitter. The menu at the Scottsdale location will feature new dishes created by Chef Paulo Im, along with items from the Tucson menu. OBON is projected to open in August.
Chef Michael Babcock and Sloane McFarland, working with Dinermite Diners (known for its work on the 5 & Diner chain) and local architect Christoph Kaiser, will soon debut a new 2,600-square-foot location of Welcome Diner. Located at 10th and Pierce streets — across the street from the new Gallo Blanco Cafe — the restaurant will feature a larger kitchen, more indoor seating, and an expanded menu. No word on an opening date yet, but judging from the newly painted mural on the side of the restaurant, it looks like it's ready to open soon.
Tempe Public Market Cafe
South Tempe will soon be home to the latest project from Valley restaurateurs Aaron Chamberlin and brother David Chamberlin, the team behind St. Francis and Phoenix Public Market Cafe. Tempe Public Market Cafe, the sister concept to the Phoenix Public Market Cafe, will serve a health-focused selection of breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes. There will also be freshly baked pastries and a full bar. The new 3,200-square-foot restaurant is slated to open later this summer.
El Chino Restaurant & Cantina
The downtown Phoenix area is about to get a new Mexican restaurant. Taqueria El Chino, the Phoenix outpost of the popular Sonoran microchain, will soon be launching its first sit-down restaurant in the Valley. El Chino Restaurant & Cantina will be located in a 5,000-square-foot space near Central Avenue and Grant Road. The new location will offer a full menu of Sonoran-style dishes. There will also be a full bar and two outdoor patios. It's a project two years in the making, says owner Rafael Ung. The opening date is slated for the first week of September.
Good news for fans of Ahwatukee's Pomegranate Cafe. The well-loved vegan and vegetarian eatery has a second location planned for central Phoenix. The restaurant will take over the former home of Scott's Generations Deli in the Bashas' shopping center near Seventh Street and Missouri. No opening date has been announced yet, but look for it in late fall.
Though many of us are still grieving the loss of Posh — the restaurant that introduced the Valley to the pleasures of spontaneously devised multicourse tasting menus — it sounds like chef Josh Hebert has exciting plans for the space the formerly housed his fine dining flagship restaurant. The dining room and exhibition-style kitchen will soon be transformed into Chef's Lounge, a space that will host pop-up dinners, cooking classes, and other food and drink events. Like its predecessor, let's hope that Chef's Lounge will soon stand out as one of the most exciting dining options in town. Chef's Lounge is slated to open later this summer.
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Fans of chef Claudio Urciuoli — that would probably include much of the Valley's food-obsessed cognoscenti — are still holding their breath for the debut of his new restaurant, Pa'La. Scant few details have surfaced this year about the project. Urciuoli, who has worked at several top Phoenix restaurants over the past decade, announced last year that he was leaving Noble Eatery to collaborate with Omar Alvarez of Tortas Paquime on the restaurant. It will reportedly feature a menu replete with locally sourced veggies and high-quality seafood cooked over a wood-fire grill. No new details about a projected opening date.