La Barquita vs. Rosita's Place: Menudo on McDowell
Menudo from La Barquita in Central Phoenix.
Menudo is a Mexican soup, an enticing bowl of hominy and tripe (beef stomach) made with either red or white broth.
It's a well-known hangover cure. But don't save it just to bring you back to normal; it can be enjoyed when the temperature's lower or you just want a bowl of something to fill you up. We put Rosita's Place and La Barquita toe-to-toe against one another in an East McDowell Road showdown. With only three businesses separating the two restaurants, we wanted to find out who served up the best bowl.
In This Corner: La Barquita
The Setup: This homey neighborhood spot is located in Central Phoenix. Owner and chef Jose Garcia of Jalisco, Mexico, cooks all the traditional Mexican dishes inside the compact restaurant. The restaurant is decorated in a gaudy but nostalgic style, with paintings of a warrior saving a distressed woman.
The Good: The menudo is full of tripe, our favorite part. All menudo orders come with four homemade tortillas and fixings on the side: cilantro, onions, and slices of lime.
The Bad: La Barquita offers only one size of menudo and only red. Although we were hyped by how much tripe was in the soup, there was no balance of hominy, giving us a feeling of being weighted down. Unfortunately, the red chile peppers (or any other flavors, for that matter) didn't shine through the soup, just the lime and onion added in.
A half bowl of menudo from Rosita's Place.
In The Other Corner: Rosita's Place
The Setup: With a modest restaurant front, Rosita's is bursting with character on the inside. After turning the corner into the dining area, it's hard to miss the fishpond with a mini-waterfall, photos depicting old Mexico, and magazine and newspaper reviews, marking this as a place as some of the best Mexican food in Phoenix.
The Good: If you eat in during the week and ask if they have menudo, you'll simply be told, "We never run out." Rosita's serves red or white, half or full bowls. The flavor of the broth is rich and full of flavors, before adding in any cilantro or other sides. The tripe is cut into small pieces, which makes them easier to digest. The ratio of hominy to tripe is perfect: not too much or too little of either element.
The Bad: The only thing that could've made this meal any better would have been a fresh bolillo.
The Winner: Rosita's Place
After downing both menudos, we knew Rosita's place won the menudo battle on East McDowell Road. The fresh tortillas definitely added a special touch to the soup from La Barquita, but not enough to take down the rich flavors from Rosita's.