From now until we publish the 2016 edition of Best of Phoenix, New Times is naming 100 Tastemakers — members of our local culinary community who help shape the way we eat, drink, and think about food in Phoenix. Some you'll know, and for others, it'll be a first introduction, but each person on our list deserves a nod for helping make our city so delicious. Oh, and while you're here, be sure to check out our list of 100 Creatives.
Today we meet the gallo blanco behind some of metro Phoenix's best Mexican food.
89. Doug Robson of Gallo Blanco and Otro Cafe
"Gallo blanco," if you're not familiar, is the Mexican slang term for "white guy." Which is why it's pretty fitting that chef Doug Robson, whose mother was French-Vietnamese and father Scottish-English, gave his Mexican restaurant the tongue-in-cheek name. But Robson isn't just some guy turning out tortas and tacos. Born and raised just outside of Mexico City, this chef was steeped in Mexican culinary tradition from the get-go.
After leaving Mexico, Robson moved to San Antonio before coming to Arizona to attend the Scottsdale Culinary Institute. And after graduating, he worked with James Beard Award-winning chef Robert McGrath and at Michael’s at the Citadel. Robson opened Arcadia's La Grande Orange in 2002 as its executive chef, as well as Chelsea’s Kitchen, before embarking on his own with Gallo Blanco in 2009. Gallo Blanco has since closed its doors at The Clarendon Hotel, but Robson plans to reopen the beloved restaurant later this year in Central Phoenix's Garfield neighborhood. His second restaurant, Otro Cafe, opened in uptown Phoenix in 2013.
My go-to place for sushi in Phoenix is Hana's Japanese Eatery. Always fresh and balanced, very imaginative food, too. It’s BYOB, but not necessary to enjoy the food.
The best kept secret in Phoenix is Tacos Chiwas. I stumbled onto it with my daughter and now has become a weekly ritual. The frijoles charros are very tasty. My son's favorite is the cabeza tacos. Tender, but not too mushy. Try the taco de tripas extra crispy.
If I could have dinner with any five people, I'd invite — it's a pipe dream but, nonetheless, I'd invite Jimmy Carter, Alice Waters, Jose Gonzalez, Dave Chapelle, and Stan Lee and we'd eat a picnic in the Arizona wine country. The conversations would be fascinating.
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You'll never find pre-peeled garlic and Spam in my kitchen, but I can't cook without chiles.
My guilty pleasure is ... well that's a long list, but pastries and doughnuts are my weakness. No willpower. Bosa, Welcome [Chicken + Donuts], Phoenix Public Market lemon cake, Lux, and Ollie Vaughn's. Bianco's tres leches. Rancho Pinot's peach pie.
The 2016 Tastemakers so far:
100. Aaron Chamberlin of St. Francis and Phoenix Public Market Cafe
99. Ross Simon of Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour
98. Debby Wolvos of DW Photography
97. Anibal and Salem Beyene of Café Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant
96. Bo Mostow of Uptown Farmers Market
95. Julian Wright of Pedal Haus Brewery
94. Stephen Jones of The Larder + The Delta
93. Eric Glomski of Page Spring Cellars
92. Richard Bock of Giuseppe's on 28th
91. Walter Sterling of Ocotillo
90. Daniel Sevilla of Angry Crab Shack