It's not intentional that I saved the best place for last; Barrio Café just happens to be farther north than all these other restaurants.

That said, chef Silvana Salcido Esparza was a 2010 semifinalist for the James Beard Awards' "Outstanding Chef: Southwest" honor, and continues to cook some of the most intriguing upscale Mexican food in Phoenix.

On Facebook and in the news, Esparza has been an outspoken opponent of the controversial SB 1070 in the past several weeks, while ironically, Senator John McCain — who's taken a tough stance on border issues — has dined at Barrio Café twice in recent times. Apparently, politics stays out of the dining room, though, as Esparza graciously declined to comment to one of my colleagues.

La Cocina is just one great pit stop among many along Mexican Restaurant Row.
Jackie Mercandetti
La Cocina is just one great pit stop among many along Mexican Restaurant Row.

Location Info

Map

Asadero Norte De Sonora

122 N. 16th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85034

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Central Phoenix

Mariscos Playa Hermosa

1605 E. Garfield St.
Phoenix, AZ 85006

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Central Phoenix

La Cocina Economica

1550 N. 16th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85006

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Central Phoenix

La Santisima

1919 N. 16th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85006

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Central Phoenix

Mariscos Ensenada

2019 N. 16th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85006

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Central Phoenix

Tortas El Guero

2518 N. 16th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85006

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Central Phoenix

Barrio Cafe

2814 N. 16th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85006

Category: Restaurant > Contemporary

Region: Central Phoenix

Details

Asadero Norte de Sonora
122 N. 16th St.
602-253-4010

Mariscos Playa Hermosa
1605 E. Garfield Rd.
602-462-1653
mariscosplayahermosa.com

Taqueria 3 Amigos
933 N. 16th St.
602-271-4172

Tradiciones/Pro's Ranch Market
1602 E. Roosevelt St.
602-254-1719/254-6676

La Cocina Economica
1550 N. 16th St.
602-817-1111

La Condesa
1919 N. 16th St.
602-254-6330
lacondesatacoshop.net

Mariscos Ensenada
2019 N. 16th St.
602-256-0201

Tortas El Güero
2518 N. 16th St.
602-252-9228

Barrio Café
2814 N. 16th St.
602-636-0240
barriocafe.com

Esparza steers clear of typical Sonoran fare and celebrates Central and Southern Mexican dishes such as Oaxacan mole, 12-hour roasted cochinita, and chicken enchiladas with tomatillo cream sauce. She also does a killer poblano chile relleno, stuffed with chicken, garlic, onion, pecans, and fruit, drizzled with almond sauce and pomegranate. The house horchata is the best I've ever had, and goat's milk caramel-filled churros make dessert a must.

Among all the wonderful little spots along Mexican Restaurant Row, this one's the busiest for good reason.

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6 comments
Mjpazmail
Mjpazmail

No stray dogs in that hood. What?

kb
kb

i'll give la Cocina Economica another try; i ate there a few years back and was disappointed.

benjo
benjo

i hate to say it, but it seems like tortas el guero has really stepped down a few notches in quality while knocking the price up a few notches since they've been getting all the press over the last few years.

for a smaller price, you can get better sammiches at the asadero on 16th, or a mile east, at el nopalito.

Abel Garcia
Abel Garcia

I LOVE NOPALITOS! i like their chicken tacos super good.. if I want another basket of chips for my salsa ..not too happy about paying 1.25 for a not so full basket of chips. I got to say I am from Tucson where the stake for a good mexican restaraunt is pretty high (Tucson has Guero Canelo, El Gorrion, Pico De Gallo, and Former President Bill Clinton's fav El Minidito), but Nopalitos on thomas and 24th st hits the spot when I miss Gueros!

olllllo
olllllo

Tortas el Guero expanded to a few locations and has contracted. I'm with you. I'm hoping they're right sized now and will back on track.

Lilpod
Lilpod

I agree Nopalitos for the price ..it's more than worth it!

 
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