Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Dead Zona

It's flat out effing scary in Arizona. A week back I was looking at the remnants of the umpteenth catastrophic car crash from my hotel window. They seem to lack three things in Arizona. Those would be red light recognition, brakes, and state funded rest stops. The latter is the newest ingredient in their particular and perverse fusion bomb.

So Pierino was encamped in Chandler (it works for business reasons). In Chandler dining establishments have names like "My Big Fat Greek Restaurant". Catch my drift? We could have done better by driving into the city where there are some good places, like Pizzeria Bianco but we finished each day too tired and too scared to travel more than a mile.

One find though was Durant's on Central Avenue in Phoenix. Pierino loves old school restaurant/bars even though he only drinks club soda in the daytime. We are used to dark bars, but this is really, really dark (hence the jittery lightscape in the image). So dark we could barely read the menu let alone our book. Opened in 1950, Durant's has that red velvet wall and banquette charm. We love these places. Phoenix now has light rail running down Central Avenue which solves to a degree the red light issue. The metro stops almost outside Durant's door at 2611 North Central. So we enjoyed a capable tuna salad with our obligatory club soda and squinted into the sunlight in the aftermath. For the record, the Pink Pony in Scottsdale is now closed.

We also visited our favorite bookstore in AZ. That would be Changing Hands in Tempe at Guadalupe and McClintock. We lunched with owner Gayle Shanks at Windy City Cafe and enjoyed real Chicago hot dogs. I mean these are authentic, dragged through the garden, right down to the poppy seed buns and bright green relish. If you've been to Chicago you know what I'm talking about. So if you visit Tempe be sure to buy a book at Changing Hands and a hot dog at Windy City, 1815 East Elliot Rd. Just don't drive through the yellow tape.


Sally said...

Chicago Hot Dogs in Arizona...a real treat!

Pierino said...

At Windy City Cafe they get it all right. Not as good as Hot Doug's on the northside of Chicago (the pinnacle)but pretty damn good for a desert outpost.