Taking in the Sights on 16th Street

Maybe vibrant street art makes you hungry. If so, you might consider eating your way up and down Calle 16, that stretch of 16th Street that’s essentially an outdoor mural gallery as well as a regional tour of excellent south-of-the-border cuisine.

Starting way down south and heading north, you might stop in at Asadero Norte De Sonora, known for its Sonoran-style grilled meats. First-timers like the parillada, a sort of sampler platter that comes with three different meats and house-made tortillas. If it’s huevos you’re after, up the road a bit you’ll spot La Cocina Economica Mexican Kitchen, a no-nonsense diner that serves breakfast all day. If you haven’t had a chorizo-and-egg burrito for breakfast, with a side of poblano, you haven’t lived. Check out Economica’s zany indoor mural and the fiesta-painted tables and chairs.

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More than three dozen creatives are part of the artist community at Xico, which showcases Latino and Indigenous artists. Xico excelled this year in finding new avenues to get artists' work in front of eyeballs despite the challenges of the pandemic. Xico created a series of videos featuring studio visits, which gave people a rare chance to see where these artists work and to hear them talk about their creative practices. It presented several exhibitions online, in a format that helped people feel like they were actually walking through the gallery space. And it curated murals on the exterior of a shipping container in Roosevelt Row, showcasing the work of emerging artists in a nontraditional format that appeals to a wide range of audiences, from art nerds making the gallery rounds to hipsters biking down the street.

The Sagrado Galleria opened in south Phoenix in 2016 as the place to go when you want to experience a wide range of works by Latino artists. The gallery presents exhibitions featuring emerging and established artists, and works to foster connections between the two that help up-and-coming artists grow and thrive in their creative paths. It's a community hub where everyone is welcome to explore Latino culture through visual art, performance, and food. The gallery also holds events in other community spaces, creating more opportunities for people to learn about Latino art and artists working in and beyond metro Phoenix.

Maria's Frybread may not keep 24/7 hours like so many Mexican drive-thru restaurants around town do, but what it lacks in availability, it makes up for in the quality of the food. The red chile beef open frybread is our pick — the pillowy bread laden with savory meat and fresh lettuce, tomato, and cheese tortures us with its irresistible aromas from the passenger seat until we can get it home. But there are also plenty of other options, including burritos (breakfast and otherwise), tostadas, pozole, enchiladas, and more. If you can spare the time, we also love to sit and eat in Maria's tiny dining room, where the red-and-white checked tablecloths provide the perfect ambiance for the down-home delicious offerings.

La Frontera
Felicia Campbell

We drove past La Frontera #1 for years, barely noticing it, until the day we stopped and grabbed a meal at the truck. Now, every time we rush past its home parking lot in downtown Phoenix, we think about all the food that lives there. Bean tostadas, the creamy frijoles hidden under a pile of avocado, onion, cabbage, tomato, and cheese. Burritos heavy with some of the best al pastor in the city. The truck serves breakfast in the morning and stays open well into the night, so there aren't many hours in the day that you can't satisfy your craving for simple, well-done Mexican food at La Frontera #1. La Frontera #3 is stationed in the same parking lot, making the corner of 16th and Monroe streets a mini food court (La Frontera #2 can be found in the west Valley). Oh, and don't forget to bring cash — they won't take your card.

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