With summer on the desert horizon, expect the metro Phoenix restaurant scene to down-shift into a lower gear, with fewer openings as temperatures rise. Fortunately, we've had several intriguing openings in recent months. Here, we list five promising new eateries. There will be fried chicken. There will be slow-roasted duck, oysters, and vegan pastries. You'll want to check out these spots on the sooner side.
High & Rye
(5310 East High Street, #100)
High & Rye is a new modern Southern restaurant in Desert Ridge. The design simulates eating in a mythically polished farmhouse: newly painted wood, posh “kitchen” area, a tabled “backyard,” string lights even inside. The food is elevated Southern, and yes there’s barbecue. Smoked meats include 14-hour brisket, 10-plus-hour pork, house-made Texas-style sausage, and ribs. Chicken wings are also smoked; they come sheathed in a rub bristling with sugar and beside a dope sauce made from Point Reyes bleu cheese. Chef Brice Niehaus refines traditional elements of Southern cooking. He makes cornbread from heirloom cornmeal, bakes biscuits potent with thyme, pickles cauliflower using champagne vinegar, and finishes barbecue with Maldon sea salt for another textural dimension. High & Rye stocks 120-plus whiskeys, mostly bourbons.
(221 North Seventh Street)
At Bri, opened two months ago in the old Rice Paper building on Seventh Street, Vince Mellody cooks whatever he wants. The menu ranges from duck to lychee in carrot curry; from kimchi string beans to ramen. Bri is not an Asian eatery, though there's a profusion of Asian ingredients and dishes. There are plenty of plates without ostensible nods to Asia, such as crostini with radish butter. And Bri, too, is not a South African restaurant, despite the similarity between the restaurant's name (long "i") and "braai," South African barbecue. "It's small plates, shared plates," Mellody says. "I wouldn't say it's any style of cuisine or any region, just anything that fits into that profile of small, shareable items." Bri is an exciting opening. Whenever somebody is doing whatever the hell they want, fun things happen.
Jimmy T’s Holy Crab
(1050 West Ray Road, Chandler)
Chandler’s latest sports bar and casual eatery offers a new place to catch the game, enjoy a drink, and feast on an array of cooked and raw shellfish. At Jimmy T's, live oysters are shucked to order. Precooked shrimp, live clams, and live mussels are displayed near the oysters. Owner Jimmy Tran receives deliveries of shrimp, oysters, and crabs from California and Washington State multiple times a week. Tran has been cooking since age 12. Jimmy T’s currently has a limited “launch menu” of shrimp, Cajun crawfish, snow crab legs, clams, and mussels. In the next couple of weeks, the restaurant will be expanding its menu, adding lobster, Dungeness crab, and King crab. A full bar offers local craft beers and domestic choices. Jimmy T’s also mixes up several specialty dessert cocktails.
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Dulce Churro Cafe
(674 North Higley Road, #107, Gilbert)
At Gilbert’s new Dulce Churro Cafe the churros are all made in-house and to-order. Jared Naumann, who owns Dulce with his wife, Annie, always envisioned churro-making to be the focus of the shop. Visitors are encouraged to watch as staff squeeze out the cylinders and loops of dough and drop them into frying oil. Another unique aspect of Dulce is the variety of customized options. Guests can choose from several shapes – such as the tube called the “grande,” loops, and bite-size pieces – as well as fillings, dips, and toppings. The range of possible creations includes a Nutella-stuffed churro dipped in chocolate and covered in Fruity Pebbles or a loop glazed with icing and coated in marshmallows. In addition to Spanish hot chocolate, Dulce also serves Cartel coffee and cold drinks, including horchata, lemonade with Caribbean vanilla, and a yerba mate infusion called terere, among others. Espresso drinks pair well with the sweets.
Dark Hall Coffee
(3343 North Seventh Avenue, #3)
The team behind veg-friendly staple The Coronado recently opened Dark Hall Coffee, which specializes in plant-based drinks and pastries. You'll see gorgeous floral wallpaper behind the bar and a triptych of mystical-looking skeleton posters. Stay for the fully vegan menu, with coffee and tea drinks featuring housemade nut milks and oat milk. The cortados, cappuccinos, lattes, and more are all dairy-free. Dark Hall has some killer cold beverages like a brown sugar lemonade, espresso and tonic, and a current special called the Arizona Sunset, featuring fresh-squeezed blood orange juice and espresso. The pastry case boasts rows of salted dark chocolate chip cookies, sticky cinnamon rolls, iced shortbread topped with cornflower and marigold petals, lavender cake with periwinkle icing and rainbow sprinkles, and plenty more.