Kitchen Doors: Let’s Eat!

The Parlor [Local First Spotlight]

1916 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix

“We opened in the midst of the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression,” said owner Aric Mei, who opened The Parlor in May 2009. “We knew that the only way we would survive was if we put an extraordinary focus on value. That strategy paid off and we have held onto it tightly.”

The Parlor is located in what was Salon de Venus for more than 50 years. “Throughout the restaurant, there are elements of the old salon. During the renovation, a large portion of the old building was demolished, and the salvaged wood was repurposed into several elements around the dining room, including the tables, host stand and front doors,” Mei said.

In addition to the decor, the food is a standout. The Parlor’s Salsiccia pizza was named the best pizza in Arizona by the Food Network. “The star of this pizza is our sausage recipe that dates back to our relatives in Tuscany,” said Mei. “The sausage is paired with grilled radicchio, fresh sage and a drizzle of saba to add some acidity and sweetness.”

The Parlor works with several local producers and suppliers to get the freshest ingredients. “We offer high-quality handmade cuisine, a serious beverage program, detail-oriented hospitality and beautiful decor, all while never losing sight of affordability,” Mei said.

For more information, visit

Photo by The Parlor

Caring Chefs: Beau MacMillan

Chef Beau MacMillan is known for his larger than life personality, appearances on Food Network and as executive chef at the breathtaking Sanctuary Resort in Paradise Valley. He’s also very involved with local charities.

“I’ve been lucky enough to be the chef representative for the Arizona Cardinals at Taste of the NFL for the last six seasons,” MacMillan said. “The Kick Hunger Challenge takes place throughout the football season and 100 percent of the funds raised are donated to St. Mary’s Food Bank. This year we set a record. We could not have done that without the support of this amazing community.”

MacMillan also created menu items for the Phoenix Rescue Mission’s Mission Possible Café. “I went to the café to see their program and work with the staff and I was blown away,” he said. “They’ve changed people’s lives and given them hope through food. It was an honor to be involved.”

In 2017, MacMillan created the Nirvana Food and Wine Festival, which takes place April 16-19 at Sanctuary, and benefits the Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP). “C-CAP is a special place that provides students with skills and scholarships in the culinary arts field. Nirvana gives these young chefs the opportunity to work with professional chefs,” said MacMillan, who donates his talent and time to several charity events across the Valley.

MacMillan is passionate about giving back to the community. “I’ve been blessed to have one of the greatest stages in Arizona to cook,” he said. “I have an incredible team at Sanctuary. I cut my teeth in this city, met my wife, had five kids and it’s more home to me than any place has ever been. I’m so grateful and will continue to give back as much as I can.”

For more information, visit

Photo by Debby Wolvos

New in Town: Josephine

218 E. Portland St., Phoenix

Josephine opened in a 1919 bungalow in downtown Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row Arts District in January 2020. “We love being in the heart of such a thriving, beautiful arts district,” said Carol Daniel, vice president of restaurant operations for True North Studio Lifestyle. “We love the idea of mixing old world charm with new world cuisine.”

Executive chef Ryan Pitt, who was previously at Café Monarch, has created a globally inspired menu with shareable dishes including lamb samosas and chicken satay with a Balinese marinade. “We wanted to create a unique dining experience where guests can enjoy flavors from around the world in an approachable yet elevated way,” he said.

Popular dishes on Josephine’s menu include Crispy Maine Lobster a L’Orange, New Orleans Cajun Spring Rolls and Green Curry New Zealand Lamb.

Like the food, the cocktails at Josephine feature unique ingredients. The Noir is a take on a Manhattan with rye whiskey, Italian vermouth and a touch of blackberry Ramazzotti Amaro. The Toulouse-Lautrec is a spin on a Negroni Bianco with gin, Midori and chartreuse.

Behind the restaurant is Coup de Grâce, a speakeasy-style lounge. “It’s dark and mysterious with risqué art and murals,” Daniel said. “The drinks are more spirit-forward and include creative twists on classic cocktails, along with some of our own inventive concoctions.”

Josephine is a distinctive addition to the downtown Phoenix culinary scene. “It’s all in the details, from each special ingredient and the female-focused artwork to the curated beverage program and stunning interior space,” said Daniel. “They all work together to bring our guests an unforgettable dining experience.”

For more information, visit

Photo by Brad Burkett

Modern Mexican

Arizona offers a wide range of Mexican food from traditional to upscale. Two restaurants that opened in 2019 feature a unique take on Mexican dishes.

Agave del Scottsdale

8390 E. Via de Ventura, Scottsdale

“Agave del Scottsdale serves dishes that are found in several areas of Mexico, including the Yucatan, Mazatlan, Puebla, Vera Cruz and Mexico City,” said Hector Soto, the restaurant’s general manager. “Many of the recipes belong to the owner’s family and have been passed down through the generations.”

Some of the regional dishes on the menu at Agave del Scottsdale, which opened in June 2019, include Mole Poblano served over roasted chicken and enchiladas, which is from Puebla; Tlacoyos de Huitlacoche, blue corn masa stuffed with black beans, from Mexico City; and Halibut ala Veracruzana with bell peppers, green olives and capers.

“We have a beautiful dining room and aim to provide the best, warmest service,” Soto said. “The menu features several types of ceviche, fish entrées, steaks and two types of mole. We pride ourselves on making everything in-house and from scratch, using the best ingredients we can find.”

Toca Madera

4736 N. Goldwater Blvd., Scottsdale

Toca Madera opened near Scottsdale Fashion Square in October 2019, offering a stunning space, ingredient-forward cuisine and farm-to-glass cocktails.

“Dining at Toca Madera is a sensory experience. From the intricate decor to the curated music and live entertainment, we seek to transport guests into another world. However, it all starts with our signature modern, organic Mexican cuisine,” said Tosh Berman, CEO and co-founder of the Madera Group. “We pride ourselves on changing the perception of traditional Mexican food with a versatile menu that caters to a variety of dietary preferences, including paleo, vegan and keto.”

Popular menu items include premium proteins such as Wagyu and white prawns served on a hot lava stone, and raw bar items like Mexican sashimi and Ceviche Blanco with Chilean sea bass.

For more information visit and

About Shoshana Leon

Shoshana Leon is a culinary writer for Frontdoors Media and creator of Foodie Fo Sho.

Recent Stories

Back to Top