January kicked off 2021 with a culinary bang. From a new lounge at the W Hotel to fried chicken joints and kolache cafes, multiple eateries entered the Valley food scene. But of course, some standouts have also left the lineup. Here's a rundown.
Barrio Queen7640 West Bell Road, Glendale
Barrio Queen opened its seventh and largest location in Glendale. This west Valley restaurant has a large outdoor area, a private tequila room, and two bars.
Cottontail Lounge7277 East Camelback Road, Scottsdale
The W in Scottsdale is debuting its new indoor-outdoor space, Cottontail Lounge, near the hotel's pool deck. Brunch and breakfast are served during the day and cocktails and light bites during the evening.
Copper 48366 North Gilbert Road, Gilbert
Nico's Heirloom Kitchen has rebranded as Copper 48 in downtown Gilbert. The menu still has favorites like pasta and short-ribs, along with some new additions like cauliflower wings.
Desi Fusion1130 West Grove Avenue, #111, Mesa
One of the latest Indian restaurants is on the southeast corner of Alma School Road and Southern Avenue in Mesa. Desi Fusion offers chaat, shawarma, and fusion-style menu items like fried rice and gobi Manchurian. This fast-casual joint also has pizzas, lassis, and desserts.
Flower Child149 South Farmer Avenue, Tempe
The first virtual Flower Child has opened in Tempe, running out of the kitchen at Culinary Dropout on the southeast corner of Farmer and First avenues. The health food-leaning menu items are available for takeout or delivery only.
Ghost Ranch1006 East Warner Road, #102-103, Tempe
After a COVID-related closure, Ghost Ranch has reopened in southern Tempe after a six-month hiatus. All of the favorites are still on the menu including green chili stew and chicken chilaquiles.
Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken212 West Main Street, Mesa
Memphis-based Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken finally brought its hot and spicy goodness to town. Notable starters include fried green tomatoes, macaroni and cheese, baked beans, and potato salad. As for the fried chicken, we recommend the breast or thighs.
Kolache Cafe4302 East Ray Road
Located in Ahwatukee, Kolache Cafe specializes in Czech and Texan pastries that are sweet or savory. Breakfast kolaches highlight eggs, sausage, and bacon, while sweet kolaches focus on fruits like apple, apricot, and blueberry.
Pie Express1929 East Ray Road, #7, Chandler
A family-owned pizza and burger joint, Pie Express, made its debut in Chandler last month. For $6.50 you can build-your-own nine-inch pizza and add a medium drink. Other standout items like fries, burgers, and wings are also available.
The Porch312 North Gilbert Road, Gilbert
The Porch opened its third location in Gilbert. Menu items include nachos, salads, and burgers. There are 16 beers on draft and several specialty cocktails.
Salad and Go3333 West Peoria Avenue
Salad and Go opened its 25th location on the corner of 35th and Peoria avenues. Salad and drinks are less than $7 with an option of adding chicken or tofu. Organic cold brews or cucumber mint lemonade are available for $1. Another 20 locations are expected to open throughout the Valley in 2021.
STK Steakhouse7134 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale
Modern steakhouse with a chic lounge and DJ? Yes, the New York-based STK Steakhouse has opened its doors on the Scottsdale Waterfront. Prices for steak are $48 for a 6-ounce filet or $152 for a 34-ounce tomahawk.
SugarJam Southern Kitchen15111 North Hayden Road, #170 Scottsdale
First thing's first: SugarJam BakeShop & Bistro is now SugarJam Southern Kitchen. And with the rebrand comes a location change. Owner Dana Dumas moved her location on East Redfield Road to North Hayden in Scottsdale. Don't worry — there's still fried chicken and the SJ apple pie.
Thai Chili 2 Go1495 North Higley Road, #108, Gilbert
Thai Chili 2 Go has added its 11th location to the Valley. Drunken noodles, panang curry, and pad Thai are available and patrons can, of course, choose the level of spice.
Twin Peaks2050 East Rio Salado Parkway
The national chain Twin Peaks had added its first location in Tempe. There are 32 beers on tap, typical bar food fare, and an expansive outdoor space with heaters and a fire pit.
Whataburger12440 North Tatum Boulevard
Whataburger has opened a prototype kitchen in Arizona — the first of its kind in the state — using its new, expanded layout. Basically, it has more of a diner feel. Expect the same burgers, fries, and spicy ketchup for yourself, but know the employees now have more space to do their thing.
(For a running list of restaurant closures since March 2020, go here.)
5th Avenue Café
After 14 years, the jazzed-themed 5th Avenue Café has closed in the Coronado District.
Persian Garden Cafe
Located on the Southeast corner of Thomas Road and 15th Avenue, Persian Garden Cafe, owned by Ahmoud and Afsaneh Jaafari, has closed after 28 of business. Owners cite the COVID and rent increases for its closure.
Squid Ink Sushi Bar
After eight years of slinging sushi and sake, Squid Ink Sushi Bar has closed its downtown Phoenix location at CityScape. However, the Peoria location is still open.
Editor’s note: This article was updated from its original version.
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