Just weeks after announcing her plans to open a second restaurant at The Yard in Phoenix, chef Silvana Salcido Esparza has unveiled a new fast-casual concept in Terminal 2 at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Called Barrio Avion, the restaurant takes a cue from Tinta Mexicana, a concept Esparza designed for the food court at Arizona Mills mall in Tempe.
At Barrio Avion, diners can build their own burritos, tacos, and bowls -- a la Chipotle -- as well as choose from a few quesadilla and salad options. The restaurant also serves beers, wine, tequila, and margaritas.
If you've recently traveled through Terminal 2 and are thinking that the new restaurant must've popped up overnight, that's because it did. Literally.
Esparza and crew took over the space, which is located behind security next to Wendy's, last Friday night and spent nine hours turning it from a tapas restaurant into Barrio Avion. The restaurant opened for business on Saturday. The changes to the space included painting two murals on the walls, which give the small space a distinctly Silvana Salcido Esparza vibe.
"[For] my customers here, there'll be no surprise," the chef says of the space.
Though there's no grill in the building, Esparza is serving high-quality foods including slow- cooked chicken (cut to order), pork, and beef. You can dress up the meats with ingredients such as cotija cheese, spinach, and freshly made sauces and salsas. During breakfast, the menu expands to include eggs and chorizo.
The chef says she's drawing on her experience doing catering for large events when creating the Avion menu and concept.
"I strongly believe you can do quality food no matter how many people you're serving," she says.
On the drinks side, there are Mexican sodas, beers on draft and in bottles, and margaritas made with 100 percent agave Altos tequila; you also can choose tequila options such as Avion (because of course) and Don Julio. A proprietary blend of coffee, sourced from Mexico, is also available -- Esparza says it's the same blend that will be served at the soon-to-open Barrio Urbano.
That restaurant, which will be located in the former Lola Tapas space at The Yard, should be open within the next three to four weeks, the chef says. Esparza says the concept will be totally different from anything else she's done; expect a "specials-driven" menu, meaning a small regular menu complemented by three to four daily specials.
Though Esparza says the city of Phoenix still plans to raze Terminal 2 in the upcoming years, the chef says the terminal will remain open while Terminal 3 undergoes renovations. She says that could take anywhere from three to five years. In Terminal 4, which also underwent renovations recently, Esparza also operates Barrio Cafe, an offshoot of her signature restaurant in Phoenix.
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For more information about Barrio Avion at Sky Harbor Airport, check the Barrio Avion Facebook page.