Cafe Reviews

Barrio Queen Still Looking to Rule Scottsdale

See also: 92: Silvana Salcido Esparza and 10 Favorite Chefs in Metro Phoenix.

This year has been a busy one for Valley taste maker Silvana Salcido Esparza. On the heels of opening two new restaurants (and closing one of them), she's celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Barrio Cafe and has recently opened its Sky Harbor Airport location in Terminal 4.

With the sudden flood of activity, perhaps the notable chef is simply stretched too thin at the moment to focus on the day-to-day operations of Barrio Queen, her casual eatery in Scottsdale's SouthBridge complex.

But the restaurant needs her help.

Open since December, today, Barrio Queen is a mash-up of sorts -- one that feels like its original elevated Mexican street food concept mixed with what could be a second location of Barrio Cafe, Esparza's original spot for upscale Mexican fare in Central Phoenix. The mix isn't necessarily a bad thing, but issues regarding preparation and flavors make Barrio Queen a sometimes good, but not-always-great restaurant.

Here's an excerpt from this week's review:

"The mid-priced fare does better but, at times, can turn into a cheese-fest. Which may be what Barrio Queen's touristy patrons expect when they think of Mexican food -- but we who live in the Valley know better.

A dish called Enchiladas Silvana features a wonderfully subtle cream sauce, but its trio of three cheeses overpowers its flavorful spinach and mushrooms. The same could be said of the two enchilada-style burros I tried: a solid carne asada with tasty caramelized jalapeños and a pork green chile creation, named the Arizona Burrito, whose tender, luscious meat I couldn't get enough of. A lighter hand when it comes to toppings of melted cheese would allow these burros to get more delicious in a hurry."

Hungry for more? See the full review here.

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Laura Hahnefeld
Contact: Laura Hahnefeld