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On Wednesday, March 9, Sheraton Phoenix Downtown unveiled the highly-anticipated Carcara restaurant as one of the final phases of a property-wide renovation under Sheraton brand’s new vision.

Led by Executive Chef Chaz Frankenfield and influenced by the rich traditions of the Southwest, Carcara is the newest addition to downtown Phoenix’s bustling culinary scene.

Executive Chef Chaz Frankenfield

Located in the newly reimagined Sheraton Phoenix Downtown, Carcara welcomes guests to immerse themselves in the destination with a modern design incorporating lush greenery and warm, earth tones along with an expansive 14-foot tree in the center of the dining room. Outside, the perimeter of the patio is lined with Cara Cara orange trees, the inspiration and namesake for the restaurant. A Sonoran-inspired menu uses locally sourced ingredients to commemorate the heritage and history of the local Phoenix community.

“Carcara is an impressive addition to the ever expanding downtown Phoenix culinary scene, honoring the Sheraton brand’s community-forward ethos and celebrating the local community through design and thoughtfully-sourced, seasonally inspired cuisine,” said Chef Frankenfield. “We’re thrilled to be a part of the city’s resurgence, and we look forward to delighting visitors and locals with an unforgettable dining experience.”

Culinary Journey Celebrating Phoenix’s Cultural Heritage

When curating the menu, Chef Frankenfield and Carcara’s Chef de Cuisine Angy Dykstra were inspired by the five C's of Arizona: cattle, citrus, copper, cotton and climate. The five C's served as an important role in Arizona’s economy early on and continue to play a strong cultural role in the community today. Carcara’s menu changes seasonally and utilizes locally-sourced ingredients, influenced by the rich traditions of the Southwest, including Native American and Sonoran-inspired dishes. Menu highlights include light bites and dips, flavorful salads and soups, colorful sides, and decadent main dishes. To start, guests can enjoy candied prickly pear ribs served with jalapeño slaw; Baja shrimp ceviche dressed with cucumber, orange, serrano peppers, tomato, and cilantro sourced from Stern Produce; and crispy eggplant taco with Crow’s Dairy goat cheese, citrus ratatouille, and shaved jicama. Standout entrees include prosciutto wrapped seared sea scallops served alongside Ramona Farms red corn polenta, wilted spinach, and nectarine butter or beef ribeye with roasted fingerling potatoes, jalapeño cilantro chimichurri, fried garlic, and lemon broccoli.

Cocktails and bites at Carcara

Beverage Program Influenced by Citrus and Seasonal Flavors

Carcara’s beverage program, developed by Director of Restaurants Lenny Skorcz, highlights cocktails with a heavy citrus influence, hand-crafted syrups, and fresh, seasonal flavors. Inspired by well-known hiking trails throughout the state of Arizona, signature cocktails include the Devil’s Bridge featuring pink dragon fruit infused rum, stone fruit syrup, pineapple juice, lime, lemon, and orange bitters, along with Cathedral Rock made with Cruzan rum Del Maguey Mezcal, Blue Curacao, chipotle pineapple syrup, lime, and pineapple. Carcara also offers its own signature canned cocktail, produced in-house, with Grey Goose Vodka, Martini Rossi Fiero Aperitivo, martini bitter, Valencia Cara Cara, Tarocco blood orange, saline and tiki bitters. The beer menu showcases local Phoenix breweries - many of which are within walking distance of Sheraton Phoenix Downtown - including Huss Brewing Co, Phoenix Beer Company, American Wilderness Brewing Company and Greenwood Brewing.

Sonoran-Inspired Design

Designed by New York-based Celano Design Studio, Carcara is inspired by the region’s cotton fields and citrus groves, honoring the rich agricultural history of the Phoenix area with simple comforts and refined details. The space expands 7,000 square feet and can seat up to 276 guests, featuring a central bar, indoor lounge, main dining area, three individually-designed private dining rooms for groups and intimate events, and The Grove, an outdoor lounge and dining area with a traditional fireplace and two fire pits.

The space features lush greenery both in a mix of clay pots and from a large hanging wood planter suspended from the ceiling, marble pavers in a variety of colors and shapes, and ochre and sunbaked gold tones throughout. Drawing on nature, a central focal point of the space is a 14-foot-tall Chestnut Oak tree growing through the wood trellis in the center of the dining room. This custom tree has a 21-foot diameter canopy and collection of glass and metal lanterns hanging within the branches to add a soft glow.

Carcara is located on the Southeast corner of Sheraton Phoenix Downtown, accessible through the ground floor lobby of the hotel as well as the 3rd Street entrance. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Thursday from 3:00 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. on weeknights and 10:00 p.m. on weekends for dinner and cocktails. For reservations, please visit OpenTable, carcararestaurant.com, or call (602) 817-5400.

About Sheraton Phoenix Downtown

Sheraton Phoenix Downtown, a contemporary destination located in the heart of downtown Phoenix, is the largest hotel in Arizona. Featuring the new vision of the reinvented Sheraton brand experience, Sheraton’s design approach embraces community-fluid spaces that feel warm and inviting for both locals and visitors. The Sheraton Phoenix Downtown renovation includes completely revamped guest rooms, new food and beverage and programming, and a social lobby, home to the property's Club lounge. One of Phoenix, Ariz.'s premier convention hotels, Sheraton Phoenix Downtown houses more than 110,000 square feet of versatile space with the latest audiovisual technology, as well as on-site planning and catering. Modern lodging and a superb location in Downtown Phoenix, the hotel is near the Phoenix Convention Center, Phoenix Suns Arena, Arizona State University, the Encanto Historic District, and Chase Field, and just 5 miles (ten minutes) from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) and Scottsdale Airport (SCF).

About Sheraton Hotels & Resorts

Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, part of Marriott International, Inc., makes it easy for guests to feel part of something special at over 440 hotels in 70+ countries and territories around the world. As the most global brand within Marriott International’s portfolio sitting at the center of hundreds of communities around the world, Sheraton has a rich heritage in creating a sense of belonging for guests, wherever they are in the world. Sheraton Hotels & Resorts is currently undergoing a major brand transformation at properties around the world to bring its signature community experience up-to-date for the next generation of travelers. The new vision for Sheraton features intuitive design, tech-forward experiences and upgrades to everything from guest rooms to F&B. To learn more, visit www.sheraton.com. Stay connected to Sheraton on Facebook, and @sheratonhotels on Twitter and Instagram. Sheraton is proud to participate in Marriott Bonvoy™, the global travel program from Marriott International. The program offers members an extraordinary portfolio of global brands, exclusive experiences on Marriott Bonvoy Moments and unparalleled benefits including free nights and Elite status recognition. To enroll for free or for more information about the program, visit MarriottBonvoy.marriott.com.

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I think it’s fair to say we all want that #fitlife, especially with Spring around the corner — as well as Gaypril on the way. Whether it’s pool season yet or not, everyone would choose to look fit over not looking fit, if they could have it with a snap of their fingers. OK, the vast majority of us would.

If you’ve met me, or have been reading my articles, you know that I live, sleep, eat and breathe fitness; it’s my heart and soul. That being said, I’m here to tell you that the concept of “fitness” is oftentimes tragically misunderstood.

Before you get too aggressive with your goal for pool season, let’s dive a bit deeper into what fitness means on the inside versus what it looks like on the outside, and common misconceptions around this concept.

1. Beware of the cultural pitfalls and misleading information around fitness.

Most of the bodies you see in the media are probably not real, they just look very convincing. As a trainer who also moonlights as a photographer and Photoshop wizard, I’m telling you that it is incredibly easy to alter pictures in materially misleading ways. Once you know the tricks of the trade, the imposters are easily spotted. But that’s not what this is about.

The point is: to the untrained eye, it can be devastatingly defeating to see such impossible standards. It seems as though the cultural pressure to look a certain way, to look perfect, has spread all the way from runway models to fitness novices with the help of smartphone apps.

The truth is that we fitness models look that cut, and that lean for only a couple days at a time. That’s it! In many cases, months or even close to a year of training, dieting and programming all go into looking like that for ONE day. Let that sink in for a second. Day to day, I am less cut, less tan and much flatter muscularly than what you see in some of my pictures. That’s just the nature of the beast. So, when you have a bad day on the scale, in the mirror or in any other scenario, remember that we’re all human and that the most legitimate photos you’re comparing yourself against were from someone’s very best day. That should help to keep things in perspective.

2. Most people want the results, without actually doing the work.

Fitness is not six pack abs, it’s not superficial, it is not temporary and it’s not an isolated phase in your life. Further, fitness is not something you do for someone else, do to spite someone else or even to impress someone else.

Fitness is confidence, toughness, dedication, coordination, power, balance, speed, strength (both literally and figuratively) and persistence in the face of all obstacles. This includes control over your attitude, your mood, your sleep, your schedule, your diet and other aspects of your life. This means getting that workout in when you least feel like it.

It’s not easy, and it’s definitely a grind that has good and bad days. You must show up and keep working on the days you’re tired, stressed, rushed, defeated, doubtful, afraid and so on. The days you actually have to overcome something instead of just checking your workout off your to-do list are the days you have the greatest opportunity to really make progress, push your body and see the most improvement.

3. Fitness is really an internal mindset. The external physique is the fringe benefit.

I’ve said this time and time again, and it might sound strange coming from such an aesthetic-focused trainer, but you are not your body. Your body is a tool, it’s a means to an end, to express your internal mindset, belief system, discipline and dedication to your workout program. Your physique will come and go. Your strength will come and go. Your abilities will wax and wane depending on what you’re training for at the time.

The outside will, and should, be always changing, but the inside is what we’re really after here. Good trainers want to train you to believe in yourself when sh*t gets hard. We want to train you to be resilient in the face of injury, obstacles and other setbacks. We want you to set ambitious goals and shoot for the moon because you can get there with smart programming and relentless will (do yourself a favor and ditch the crash diets and the photo editing software).

So, as you make your spring preparations for swimsuit season, try focusing on developing a sterling, unshakeable internal character and the muscles will come along the way, this I promise you.

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