Garcia even manages to elevate the staples of Mexican cuisine. His homemade tortillas are wonderfully light and soft. His beans are mashed by hand after being boiled and fried with spices and California chiles. The result is a lovely creamy texture so different from the usual side of bland frijoles found seemingly everywhere else. And his addictive salsa is smoky and slightly sweet, thanks to grilled tomatillos. It took all I had not to fill up on the pre-meal chips and salsa.

And for other standards on the menu, like the burrito, Garcia has had to interpret them using his own style.

"I've never visited Sonora or Chihuahua, and I never had a burrito until I came to America," Garcia says. "The closest thing was what my mom would make when we were kids. She'd take tortillas, fill them, and squish them while stretching their ends to look like donkey ears."

La Barquita's authentic Mexican dishes come from family recipes.
Jackie Mercandetti
La Barquita's authentic Mexican dishes come from family recipes.

Location Info


La Barquita Restaurant

2334 E. McDowell Road
Phoenix, AZ 85006

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Central Phoenix

La Barquita Restaurant
2334 East McDowell Road
Hours: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday

Molcajete a la mexicana: $12.99
Bírria: $9.99
Plato de carnitas: $8.99
Mole poblano: $9.99

The bars on the windows and row of empty flowerpots outside may make one think the small building called La Barquita is cold and uninviting. But inside, the mishmash of tables and chairs, brightly painted walls of fuchsia and yellow, and din of activity mixed with televisions tuned to Spanish-language stations make it feel like a neighborhood joint you could get familiar with. The décor seems to matter little to Garcia, who says his primary goal is to show Americans what authentic Mexican food tastes like, perhaps even opening a second location in an Anglo-centric area of the Valley.

"Maybe in Goodyear," he says. "That's where I live."

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