Allison Young

Barrio Cafe

Knockoffs and ripoffs are an unavoidable hazard of the restaurant industry, but if there's a silver lining to this phenomenon, it's that all the impostors only make it easier to spot a true original. Barrio Café — established in 2002 by Wendy Gruber and Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza and located along the Calle 16 restaurant and bar row cutting through central Phoenix — is an unmistakable O.G. gem. The live music and local artwork provide a delightful atmosphere, but the food is what seals the deal. Menu standouts include cochinita pibil, chiles en nogada, churro rellenos, and the well-known chef's tableside guacamole — famously bejeweled with pomegranate seeds. Diners will also find Mexican beers, Micheladas, and too many amazing margaritas to list here (OK, just one: the Lowrider). Barrio Café has never taken reservations. The dining room is open with limited seating, but takeout is always available.

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