PHOENIX--After a week of driving along the bland, high-walled boulevards of Scottsdale and the northern suburbs, one anonymous development after another, it was a delight to head closer to the heart of historic Phoenix.
It's all about the neighborhood, and the one called Coronado represents the Phoenix of maybe 50 years ago. "Mid-Century Modern" is what the antique dealers call the Eisenhower-era furniture inside the one-story houses on the tree-shaded streets. As for the comfort food of the time, well, it's a good thing it's been updated a bit at Tuck Shop.
The owner, an architect named DJ Fernandes, has avoided the temptation to serve a retro menu. Instead, the kitchen produces updated dishes appropriate to the season, like the lamb meatballs ($17) in a bright tomato sauce accompanied with a "pasta" of julienned carrots, zucchini, and spaghetti squash, topped with shredded basil and dusted with pecorino.
Turns out, we weren't the only ones to enjoy this. Cooking Light magazine, in search of healthy, warm-weather delights, gave it a big thumbs up recently. The menu is designed for sharing, with a $21 skirt steak the most expensive thing you can order. "Grandma's" daily specials come from the Portuguese repertory, so you can be sure they're freshly made and tasty. There's cold beer, inexpensive wines, and a modest cocktail list as well.
The Tuck Shop is located in an unassuming, single-story building and adjoins a second Fernandes restaurant, Astor House, that's open for breakfast & lunch.
One last thing: without Carrier's invention of air conditioning, we would not be here. Record temperatures all week; yesterday's high was 115 degrees.