The Downtown Phoenix Partnership was kind enough to invite me to their annual blogger lunch and launch of their 2011 Downtown Dining Guide. During the lunch, I was able to try small dishes from six downtown restaurants and was given some exciting news about new restaurants opening at CityScape this fall/winter.

The 2011 Downtown Dining Guide from the Downtown Phoenix Partnership.

First up, we were given a choice of an iced vanilla latte or cinnamon spice ice tea from One Coffee Company. Since it was later in the day, I went with the cinnamon spice ice tea. What a surprise! If you are a cinnamon fan, you must try this tea. It almost tastes like someone dropped a few red hot candies into a cold refreshing glass of iced tea. It was a refreshing and interesting mix. The owner spoke to us for a few minutes about his passion for coffee and downtown Phoenix. He said he wanted to create a space where not only those who work downtown stop in to for their daily coffee, but where those that live downtown can come and hang out.

Cinnamon Spice Tea from One Coffee Company

Next, Brick Pizzeria & Wine Bar served their house-made hummus with vegetables, feta and olives; and an also homemade virgin margarita. Yum! What a perfect combination for a hot day. The ingredients were so fresh and the owner stressed that they make everything from scratch. I really enjoyed both of these items, and since my office is in the same complex as Brick, I will be stopping in for lunch and happy hour!

Hummus with vegetables, feta and olives from Brick Pizzeria

I have to admit, when I walked into the room I was star struck to see James Beard Award winner, Chef Nobuo Fukuda. I have been to his one-year-old restaurant, Nobuo at Teeter House, and was blown away then, so I was very excited to see what he had in store for us to taste. He didn’t disappoint. Chef Fukuda prepared a tasting trio to be eaten in order. First, a melon salad with goat cheese and mint to cleanse the palate; then, yellowtail sashimi with avocado; and to finish, tomatoes with honey and pepper. Wow. Fresh, flavorful, unique. Chef Fukuda impresses again.

Tasting trio from Nobuo at Teeter House

Province, located inside The Westin Phoenix Downtown, also served a tasting trio with a chicken Cuban bocadillo; a goat cheese tortellini with vegetables in broth; a squash muffin with molasses frosting; and a cucumber, basil, ginger, and Serrano chile aqua fresca served with chopped strawberries. The aqua fresca was refreshing and sweet with a slow burn from the Serrano chile in the finish. It definitely inspired me to try some interesting aqua fresca combinations at home.

Cucumber basil aqua fresca from Province

For some reason, I always forget that downtown Phoenix has a rotating restaurant, The Compass Arizona Grill at the Hyatt. I was glad that they participated in this event to remind me! I really enjoyed their Ancho Chorizo Shrimp and raspberry lemonade infused with rosemary. The chef also announced that the restaurant has a reverse happy hour everyday of the week, from 9-11pm with $5 desserts, $5 house wine, $5 well drinks, and a $7 cocktail special.

Raspberry lemonade infused with rosemary from The Compass Arizona Grill

So maybe you are like me, or maybe not, but every once in awhile I get a mad craving for cobbler. It’s not like cobbler is an easy thing to find either, and no pie is a good enough substitute when this craving hits. So imagine my delight to learn that there is a restaurant called Karim’s Cobbler Shop & Deli right in downtown Phoenix! Karim’s not only specializes in cobbler, but southern-style soul food like fried catfish, fried chicken and more. So cobbler cravers unite, we have found our mecca.

Peach and cherry cobbler from Karim's Cobbler Shop & Deli

Ok, so now you’ve made it all the way through this blog post and are probably starving so I’ll make this quick. At the end of the lunch we were given the inside scoop on what’s next for CityScape. Jimmy Carlin of Maven Hospitality Group is working on two new concepts, a fast casual Italian restaurant called The Strand (get it, like a strand of spaghetti?) and an Asian chop house and sushi lounge called Silk. The Strand is scheduled for an October 1st opening and Silk is to follow in December. Good stuff!