Meet DPJ’s new Eats & Drinks editor as we join her on a new culinary journey through downtown.

The Italian Alps with dairy/cheesemaker in the distance.

I have hiked the Italian Alps to find a raw milk cheesemaker, visited a monastery for a beer tasting and nearly got lost in the cave-cellars of Veuve Clicquot. I found home in a Vietnamese hot pot in the middle of Brussels and then again through a cross-cultural Fourth of July barbecue in rural Italy. While I have found home from afar, I continue to find culture at home.

I always find myself getting lost in the moment when a silky vanilla bean rice pudding is handed over to me accompanied by a side to side smooch by Marco at Pane Bianco. The sweet ladies at Thai’d Up recently transported me to a place I’d never been with their Green Curry and Summer Roll with Peanut Sauce. And I will never get enough of The Breadfruit’s Coconut Curried Tofu paired with one of the Rum Bar’s premium rums. Less than five years ago, I could count on one hand the restaurants that dominated each major cuisine in the heart of Phoenix. I have now run out of fingers trying to tally them all.

Thai'd Up's green curry.

What’s also impressive is that these restaurants are looking to Arizona’s own cultural foods and local producers for inspiration and sourcing. Heritage foods like mesquite, tepary beans, and Sonoran white wheat are making their way onto menus while artisans and farmers such as Hayden Flour Mills, Maya’s Farm and Arizona winemakers are partnering to provide.

If you know me or have followed my journey on social media, you know that all this connectivity and prosperity through food enlivens me. This is because, for me, food is culture. It is not just my eating habits; it is not just my ethical rubric. My intention for the Eats & Drinks section is to take you along the journey that is the growth of the Downtown Phoenix food scene, and together we’ll get acquainted with the restaurateurs, chefs and producers that are shaping the culture we are so proud of.