Food News

The Biggest Restaurant News of 2022: Events That Changed the Phoenix Food Scene

Bergies, the backyard-style coffee shop, closed after 14 years.
Bergies, the backyard-style coffee shop, closed after 14 years. Lauren Cusimano
The Phoenix food scene is constantly evolving, with movers and shakers making waves, opening new restaurants, and winning awards. Over the past 12 months, two Arizona chefs received one of the highest honors in food, a few Phoenix institutions celebrated major milestones, and some longtime spots shocked customers with closing announcements. Here are the biggest stories in Phoenix food news of 2022.

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Pizza extraordinaire Chris Bianco.
Jacob Tyler Dunn
Two Arizona Chefs Won James Beard Awards
In Arizona, the names Don Guerra and Chris Bianco are celebrated, as these two chefs make the best bread in Tucson, and the best pizza in Phoenix, respectively. In 2022, the James Beard Foundation shone a national spotlight on our Arizona icons by honoring them with awards. Don Guerra brought home the title of Outstanding Baker and Chris Bianco won Outstanding Restaurateur, the second James Beard Award of his career.

Breakfast Bitch Moved
A restaurant shrouded in drama — its owner was facing up to 20 years in prison — closed its original Phoenix location, but not for reasons one might expect. Despite Tracii Show Hutsona's legal troubles, the restaurant reopened a few blocks away in a more prominent location in downtown Phoenix. The restaurant is now open and serving brunch in the Roosevelt Row space that previously held the Golden Margarita, a restaurant that closed after drama, and a resulting lawsuit, of its own.

Jose Jimenez Died
Jose Jimenez, a beloved father, grandfather, husband, and cook, died in November. He most recently worked at Little Miss BBQ and Cloth & Flame, a pop-up event company. While biking home one evening, he didn't make it back to his family. Phoenix Police found a body in the canal the following morning, and later identified it as Jimenez. The food community has rallied around his family, hosting a final concert event, naming menu items, and creating a craft beer in his honor.

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Bliss ReBAR's big patio was the perfect place to chill.
Melissa Fossum
Valley Institutions Closed
Some restaurants are relatively short-lived, but a lucky few stand the test of time. 2022 saw the final days of multiple long-term Valley institutions. Downtown Phoenix LGBTQ hangout Bliss ReBAR closed after 12 years. In Tempe, Chompie's closed after 25 years in business, House of Tricks said goodbye after 34 years, and P.F. Chang's served its final customers following 24 years.

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Adjacent to Chase Field, Guy Fieri’s DTPHX Kitchen + Bar celebrated its grand opening on June 15.
Nikki Michelle Charnstrom
Guy Fieri’s DTPHX Kitchen + Bar Opened Downtown
While discerning foodies may find that this new downtown restaurant doesn't quite make it to Flavortown, news of Guy Fieri's new restaurant blew up online. The Food Network star and spike-haired chef opened his first Arizona restaurant near Chase Field with a partnership with Caesars Sportsbook. The large space doubles as a restaurant and sports-betting hub, complete with massive burgers, Fieri's famous Trash Can Nachos, and betting kiosks.

Phoenix Cafes Rallied After Roe
People across the nation reeled when the Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe V. Wade and the constitutional right to abortion. There were multiple rallies and protests in Phoenix, and a few Valley restaurants and cafes stepped up to help the community share their voices. Monsoon Market, Brick Road Coffee, and Tres Leches Cafe were among the businesses that became spaces where Arizonans could sign a petition to place the Right to Reproductive Freedom Initiative on the ballot.

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Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza.
Zee Peralta
Icons Celebrated Birthdays
While some longtime restaurants, unfortunately, closed in 2022, others doubled down and celebrated major milestones. Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza's iconic 16th Street spot Barrio Café celebrated 20 years in business. In Mesa, unusual restaurant-come-concert-hall Organ Stop Pizza, hosted an event filled with deals and discounts for 50 days to commemorate 50 years of slinging slices and playing pipes.

The Breadfruit Came Back  Sort Of
The Breadfruit & Rum Bar was known for its cozy downtown Phoenix space, expert cocktails, and outstanding Jamaican food. When restaurants around the state closed due to COVID-19, The Breadfruit shut its doors. But as others reopened, the Valley favorite remained closed. That was until it found a new, albeit temporary, home. Customers can now get a taste of the old restaurant from inside Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour. The restaurant is popping up inside the acclaimed cocktail bar to serve customers a pairing of Ross Simon's award-winning cocktails with jerk shrimp and sweet plantains.

A Cocktail Pro Fell From Grace
Tyka Chheng was a top name in the Valley cocktail scene. He was known for creating unique drinks and most recently, for putting his personality and heritage into Khla, a downtown Phoenix cocktail bar based around Southeast Asian culture and ingredients. But this year, he also became known for more nefarious reasons. A series of social media posts picked up steam and accused Chheng of sexually harassing women online. His business partners immediately cut him out of their ownership group.

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Gypsy Cup brought European cafe vibes to Gilbert.
Gabby Ursinger
Gilbert Got Decidedly Less Caffeinated
The Gilbert Heritage District got a little less caffeinated late in 2022, as two of its local coffee shops closed. Bergies, a beloved indoor-outdoor space with a sprawling patio and garden, shuttered on Christmas Eve after 14 years of serving the community. A few blocks away, the new, cute cafe in town, Gypsy Cup, closed after just eight months in business. 
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Tirion Morris is the Food Editor at Phoenix New Times. Find her digging into all of the best restaurants and dishes in the Valley, from new spots to hidden gems. Food tip? Get in touch at [email protected]
Contact: Tirion Morris

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