Last week my family and I travelled through the rough landscape of Arizona. Outstanding! Even in the desert you can get decent food, just do your best and don’t settle too easily for fast food restaurants. I love Mexican food and in this border state there is an abundance of good Mexican restaurants. Lucky me! Two restaurants we visited are especially worth mentioning: Elote Cafe in Sedona and Barrio Café in Phoenix.
Elote Cafe in Sedona
The Red Rocks of Sedona are breathtaking. At an unexpected location, in a hotel, sits Elote Cafe. In this informal but always crowded restaurant owner-chef Jeff Smedstad gives his take on Mexican food. He traveled around the world, ate and cooked everywhere, but Mexican cuisine stole his heart. His dishes are prepared with local, sustainable, and organic ingredients…a man after our own heart. He even tried out thirty different chicken suppliers before he found the perfect chicken! That’s how we like it. If you want to prepare his lovely dishes at home, don’t forget to buy his cookbook on your way out. (Walk-ins only.)
711 Highway 179 at the King’s Ransom Hotel
Barrio Café in Phoenix
When traveling in Arizona, Phoenix might not be your main destination, but if – like us – you need to catch a flight here and have some extra time, you might as well find yourself a good Mexican lunch or dinner. Barrio Café is one of the best Mexican restaurants in Arizona. It’s located in a very uninteresting area in an uninteresting building, but the exuberant murals behind and around give this unpretentious restaurant at least color. Moreover, the place is almost always packed, which makes it everything but dull. And then there is the modern Mexican food of chef Silvana Salcido Esparza. Expect dishes like chunky guacamole with pomegranate seeds, Chiles en Nogada, a spicy poblano pepper stuffed with chicken, pear, apple, and almond sauce. Because of its popularity the owners opened a second location at the International Airport of Phoenix (Terminal 4, gate D). Same food, more fancy, but a less characteristic place.
16th St. North Central Phoenix