Hey readers, get ready. We're putting new meaning into the term "street food." For Chow Bella's latest mission -- "Eating 16th Street" -- we've employed a young woman who's literally eaten her way around the world. Alex Rodriguez has eaten borscht in Moscow, steak in Buenos Aires and a "life-changing panna cotta" in Bra, a small town in the Piemonte region of Italy. Now we've set her palate loose on Central Phoenix's 16th Street. Rodriguez will try it all, from Jefferson Street north to Thomas Road -- and report back, place by place.
The Place: Asadero Norte de Sonora The Food: Northern Mexican fare The Back Story: Family-owned for the last 10 years. The Price: $15.50 for a meal that could feed two comfortably.
See also: Parrillada from Asadero Norte de Sonora
It's homey inside Asadero Norte de Sonora. There are no frills about it. Paper towels for napkins and sodas straight out of the bottle. We weren't surprised to find that the restaurant has been family-owned for the past 10 years.
"[My] dad's friends had the [restaurant] idea and they helped him get it started" says Yuriana Bravo, who has been working there for about 9 of the 10 years that her Sonoran parents have owned the restaurant. "My mom and dad work in the kitchen," says Bravo, "and my sister and I help serve the tables."
The interior is far smaller than it looks from the outside. The inside makes you feel like you're sitting in the sala (living room) of a clay home in Northern Mexico. Tiny, wood-framed paintings line the walls, an a TV mounted above the gum machine glares Spanish game shows.
Visitors can sit family-style at the long bench-like tables in the middle, or take a seat at some of the tables on the outskirts (and by outskirts, we mean like 4 feet from the big picnic tables in the middle).
Before any questions are asked, visitors are brought a warm cup of frijoles a la charra (pinto beans cooked in beer with cilantro, bacon, and onion).
To drink, we decided to go with a Manzanita ($3), which is an apple soda that's very popular in many parts of Mexico. It's sweet and tart.
Depending on the day and time of day you decide to go, service may not be its selling point as there isn't a particularly large wait staff. Rest assured, though, that whoever is there is polite and welcoming. But at restaurants like Asadero, service is not the point.
That's where the menu comes in. At first glance, it's full of typical Mexican cuisine -- tacos here, burritos there, tortas, guacamole and other more commonly known usuals. At Asadero, though, perhaps the most popular dish on the menu is their parilladas (meats from the grill) and pollo asado. Chicken is offered whole or halved. The same goes for parrilladas, but guests can choose three different meats for one parrilla, like chicken, carne asada, and al pastor.
We ordered una media parrilla de carne asada ($12.50). Don't make the mistake we made and forget to order two other types of meat. A big oops on our part, but in the end it didn't matter because the carne was great.
We felt like a king when they brought our parrilla - it's huge, and looks beautifully rustic. It also sits high above the table on a metallic parrilla dish, so it fit with our current state of food royalty.
The parrillas come with a plate of warmed tortillas, a cup of simple guacamole, pickled red onions, halved key limes and cucumber slices.
The steak was tasty, though we did find the need to add a little salt. The beauty of this monstrosity of a dish is that there is no wrong or right way to eat it, so we made tacos.
A half parrilla is huge, enough to share between two people -- that'll make the price look much better, though by no means is this a pricey establishment.
A burrito, which is enormous, will run you less than $5. The burrito al pastor smelled delicious, and we couldn't resist taking a bite. At that point we were reassured that our olfactory senses were on point.
The next time we visit Asadero, we might just stick with the burrito, but if you're in for a huge and delicious meal for two, go with the parrillada.
Just don't forget your crown.