On the heels of the announcement that famed Valley tastemaker Silvana Salcido Esparza will open a second Barrio Queen in Gilbert by the end of the year, the chef has some arguably even more exciting news: plans for a totally new concept to be located on the West Side.
The new restaurant will be "the Barrio Queen that wasn't," Esparza tells me.
Those who were around when Barrio Queen first opened in Scottsdale back in 2012 will have an easier time understanding what that means. Originally, Esparza had plans for the restaurant to be part bakery and ice cream shop with a retail section for Barrio Queen swag, Mexican cheese, and other hard-to-find Mexican ingredients.
Of course, as those who've eaten there lately will know, none of those features ever really came through -- at least, not at the Queen.
The new fast-casual concept Esparza has planned will be more of that comida mercado-type restaurant originally planned for the Queen. Esparza says it will maintain the high quality of food and ingredients for which she has become known, but will offer it all in a more approachable -- and affordable -- setting.
"My heart has always been in feeding working class folks like me," Esparza says.
As far as the plans for Barrio Gilbert, Esparza says she will to do "minor tuning" to both locations of the restaurant concept. She says she's still trying to pin down the restaurant's identity and will do things like add more of her signature dishes and install a wood burning stove in the Gilbert restaurant.
The second Barrio Queen location has been a long time coming. You might remember that before Esparza landed on the Southbridge location in Scottsdale, she had been in lease negotiations with a Gilbert landlord for six months. That deal fell through due to disagreements about the restaurant concept.
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Since the deal for the first location of the new fast casual concept hasn't been finalized, Esparza isn't ready to release many details about the restaurant's exact location. She would say that the restaurant will be located west of the I-17 or Black Mountain Freeway.
Stay tuned for more information as we get it.