Phoenix. Tempe. Scottsdale. That’s what I think of when people say “Phoenix”. As a Los Angeles native, I didn’t really know what to expect from Arizona, much less what type of culture encompasses the area. Los Angeles is known for being a cultural metropolis, the Mecca of “culture.” Nonetheless, it has its flaws in racism, classism, and poverty. In thinking of Los Angeles and my studies at USC, I began to critically think about Phoenix in the same ways I was challenged to do about L.A… This area is developing at a fast pace, which is great for local economies. However I started to think about the image of Phoenix… what exactly is this area becoming? A sub-par Los Angeles? A mini metropolis? An area seeking to find an identity, heavily influenced by LA restaurant and bar scenes. What does Phoenix need? Culture. L.A is famous for its cultural pockets, it’s ethnic hubs catering to immigrant communities (which are now heavily influenced by their second generation children). East of Los Angeles you’ll find the San Gabriel Valley, well knows for its Asian eats. Boyle Heights is known for its predominantly Latina/o community (overwhelmingly Mexican) and their good eats too. A lot of these resaturants/fast food are becoming a fusion of something I would call “hipster-ethnic food,” blending traditional, cultural food with modern ambiance, such as Guisados, largely famous in Boyle Heights. I personally dislike their tacos, like no I don’t want your aioli whatever sauce on my tacos… But anyways. What we see in LA are immigrant communities developing into ethnic hubs, dominantly influenced by second and third generation children. In LA, culture is growing and culture is heavily influenced and defined by their food. Phoenix is still forming its identity. It is still figuring out its culture. There aren’t as many immigrant communities impacting areas in Phoenix (well possibly the city of Guadalupe and their Mexican community; or the Native American community who is treated like an immigrant one). I think Scottsdale and Phoenix are seeing a large growth of new age restaurants. Fusion restaurants like Clever Koi, overpriced coffee shops like Luxe and organic, inspired cuisine such as Desert Roots Kitchen. I just wonder in what direction Phoenix will develop and what will come to define this area. Scottsdale continues to develop into this upscale, money, youth motivated area, much like Los Angeles. I am curious to find out what “Phoenix” will develop into in about ten years.