Restaurant Road Trip: Shift Kitchen + Bar

2023 started with some impressive milestones for Shift Kitchen + Bar in Flagstaff, including the restaurant celebrating its seventh anniversary and executive chef Christian Lowe being named a James Beard Award semifinalist in the Emerging Chef category.

“It is a recognition both for Chef Christian and for Shift. We are so honored to have what we do recognized nationally. This has brought us great business, which allows us to do so many more things. We have endless possibilities now,” said Dara Wong, the restaurant’s owner and pastry chef, who moved from Colorado to Flagstaff in 2014.

Shift offers a changing menu meant for sharing with a focus on seasonal and local ingredients. “We wanted a small bistro-type place where people could go multiple times a month and potentially get something different every time,” Wong said. “Guests at Shift can expect a rotating menu, creative approaches and a shifted mentality from the normal dining experience.”

Recent dishes on the menu include Moroccan lamb tartare, Thai curry tofu, braised short rib with garlic and chevre polenta, and jalapeño cheesecake. Shift also offers specialty cocktails, local beer and an extensive selection of wine and spirits. 

Local suppliers are key to the menu at Shift. “We source as many local vendors as possible, whether that be in Phoenix or even the Four Corners. It’s really cool to be able to get tomatoes in December because of Phoenix’s growing season,” Wong said.

The chef’s counter is a prominent feature at Shift. “The kitchen is completely open and diners can talk with the chefs while they make their food. It creates a relationship for someone who loves to cook and wants to share that passion,” Wong said. 

Wong opened Oeno Wine Lounge in September 2021, close to Shift. “I want to have multiple businesses in the Flagstaff community. Wine is one of my passions, so a wine lounge was an obvious choice,” she said.

Over the past few years, Wong has seen the Flagstaff culinary scene expand. “It’s been great having Atria and other high-caliber restaurants open,” Wong said. “It helps our workforce and provides options for diners. I love growth; that’s what drew me to open Shift in Flagstaff in the first place.”

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About Shoshana Leon

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

From Frontdoors Magazine

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