Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Downtown Mesa: If you knew it, you’d do it.
Impromptu Restaurant Crawl is Successful in Downtown Mesa

Recently, a group of passionate friends formed Project Downtown Mesa and, with the goal of bringing another restaurant to downtown Mesa. Excited by new people interested in downtown, NEDCO decided to host a restaurant crawl to show off a few of the great restaurants open for dinner downtown. Many of the group had no idea that downtown Mesa had such a variety of restaurants open for dinner including 26 restaurants within a half mile of the arts center, 14 of which are full-service.

Beginning at Republica Empanada, we enjoyed a delightful spread of empanadas and their fabulous Arroz con Pollo. Marco Meraz, the manager, introduced the food and told us the history of the restaurant, and about his family’s commitment to Downtown Mesa. From there, we transitioned to Nunthaporn’s Thai Cuisine, where we were overwhelmed by three featured dishes and spring rolls - Pad Thai with Shrimp, Cashew Chicken, and Massaman Curry with Chicken. Nunthaporn shared her family’s story and history in downtown, moving from Country Club and the US60 to downtown in 2009.

As it began to lightly rain, the group made it’s way over to Queen’s Pizzeria where they were delighted with bruschetta and margarita pizza. Emilie and Gannon Nikolich shared their family’s history in downtown and were delighted to show off their recently renovated new location with a full bar & craft beer on tap. Il Vinaio (the Wine Merchant) greeted the group with a full dining set up and individual portions of their goat cheese linguine with grilled chicken. Cameron and Cindy Selogie talked passionately about their decision to open their business on Main Street and their hopes for the continued growth and local support in downtown. Feeling a little fuller, the group then transitioned to Mango’s Cafe, who generously offered to stay open a little later to accommodate the group. We enjoyed street tacos made with carne asada and al pastor, and were offered chips and salsa and horchata to accompany our tasting. Long-time Mango’s employee, David Jimenez, welcomed the group with enthusiasm and warmth providing an atmosphere tailored for our enjoyment. Our final stop was Margarita’s Grille, where we were greeted with a full table set up and individual sample platters of chimichangas, tacos, taquitos, and fried shrimp. Ryan Caldwell, shared the family’s 30 year history in the restaurant business and in the valley, with Margarita’s being the newest addition to the restaurant family.

The final stop also allowed for easy conversations between the DTMesa group and the NEDCO staff. Discussion was passionate and curious, and everyone spoke with an open mind and excitement about the possibilities in downtown. The downtown vision was mentioned, noting that the initiative to bring 1500 new housing units to downtown would not only support the existing businesses but would also provide evidence and support for new businesses to join our downtown family. There was general consensus that the local restaurants in our downtown need help spreading the word and getting attention from new patrons, as it was clear how easily they were overlooked even by interested local residents. Everyone involved walked away feeling the excitement of a collaborative effort to support and improve downtown.

MESA: If you knew it, you’d do it proved true once again - inviting people to experience our downtown challenges the common misperception that there is not much to offer. In reality, downtown Mesa is made up of locally-owned shops and restaurants and filled with passionate and involved business owners, organizations, and neighbors. If you knew it, you’d do it.

If you are interested in participating in a future downtown restaurant event, please contact us at For more information about NEDCO, go to:

Click here for more photos from the crawl.

No comments:

Post a Comment