It was anything but a sleepy summer season for several Valley restaurateurs, who were signing off on construction or renovation specs and devising brand-new menus. Here’s what they’ve come up with:
Phoenix: Southern Rail
New-build project The Newton has filled in the real estate left behind by defunct Beef Eater’s steakhouse. The first two tenants of The Newton are Southern Rail restaurant and Changing Hands’ second bookstore (maybe make that three tenants, since this Changing Hands has a beer, wine and coffee bar too, called First Draft).
Southern Rail mines traditional, regional-American diets for its menu and raided the old steakhouse for a few key furnishings. Executive chef Justin Beckett, already known for trendy farm-to-table cuisine at Beckett’s Table, proves just as adept with entrées like blackened catfish, gumbo and chicken ’n’ dumplings. 300 W. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 602.200.0085
Scottsdale: Sumo Maya
Marketplace at Scottsdale & Lincoln, another new-build project bidding riddance to the recession, has seen some nice move-ins since springtime: breakfast joint Scramble, for example, and the latest location of women’s “architectural clothing” boutique Objects. And now there’s Sumo Maya, a restaurant that dares to pair bold Mexican cuisine and delicate sushi, side-by-side. Nimble chefs exert an artful effect over each, and garnish plates with the petals of edible flowers.
From the sexy-Mexi part of the menu, consider small tacos carrying the likes of tuna and pickled onions, pork and pineapple, or wild mushrooms and poppy seed crema. On the sushi side, pencil yourself in for a spicy crab roll with passion fruit sauce, and an eel roll with cream cheese and sweet peppers. Sumo Maya’s environment is as intriguing as the menu. Brilliant colors, cool materials, an exhibition kitchen and a centerpiece tree are among the dazzlers. 6560 N. Scottsdale Rd., Phoenix, 480.397.9520
At various times, the “hub” restaurant space at the Scottsdale Seville has housed a Roy Yamaguchi production and a satellite for a Tucson brewery. The latest tenant is Fogon, a Mexican-cuisine adaptation of the Japanese teppanyaki-table concept. In a masculine atmosphere of black fixtures and a strong scent of burning mesquite, guests can witness deft knifework, customize their entrées’ ingredients, then add savory creams and sauces themselves. 7001 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 480.284.4527
Tempe: The Revival
Longtime Tempe taco bistro Mucho Gusto was reinvented, in mere months, into an establishment serving elegant American plates to banquettes upholstered in patchwork flannels and tweeds. ASU students would do well to bring their visiting parents to The Revival—Tempe-campus-adjacent as it is—to demonstrate that their taste buds are getting smarter. The concise menu of familiar dishes and occasional curveball ingredients (salmon with plums; short ribs with raisins) is like a young scholar who respects his elders, but is developing a few ideas of his own. 603 W. University Dr., Tempe, 480.921.0111