A short stretch of 16th Street is home to an outsize proportion of great Mexican eating. Between Edgemont Avenue and Palm Lane, you can find strong Mexican seafood, ice cream, tortas, and cochinita pibil. The seasoned purveyors of these eats include Tortas El Guerro, Mariscos Ensenada, Realeza Michoacana, and Barrio Cafe.
Last month, a new Mexican eatery joined these formidable ranks. That eatery is Casa Corazon Restaurant, a restaurant that stands out because of its bright orange exterior. As its hue suggests, Casa Corazon brings something a little different. It brings a cherry-picking of food from the southern regions of Mexico.
The restaurant's owner, though, comes from Mexico's north.
"I'm from Sonora, but I wanted to do something different, more southern Mexico," owner Javier Vervugo says. It is indeed different, starting with the building, which is a house that Vervugo once lived in. After he moved out of the house, he rented it as office space. Last summer, he gutted and redid the house with his son, putting on all the touches themselves, from the zeitgeisty tile to the wall sanding.
It is different, too, because Vervugo's chef doesn't have a recent history of cooking Mexican food. Before taking the stove of the open kitchen at Casa Corazon, Alex Ortiz cooked at The Duce and Mancuso's Restaurant.
At Casa Corazon, Ortiz plates southern Mexican staples like cochinita pibil and Veracruz-style white fish with green olives and tomato sauce. The restaurant takes a from-scratch approach. The red-and-green rainbow of salsas in the chilled salsa bar is fresh, the salsas made from scratch each morning. Corn tortillas are made on the premises as well.
The restaurant's menu doesn't fit into any neat category. There are whopping regional plates, many of which come with black beans and rice. There are tapas-size portions of light, fluffy gorditas filled with the likes of chicharrones, green chile pork, and atun ahumado (smoked tuna).
Quesadillas, burritos, fajitas, flautas, and tacos are all on the menu. Starters include the likes of guac, ceviche, and street corn. Salads slant modern. One combines avocados and strawberries. Among the big plates you will find even more of those big-name regional Mexican standbys, like mole poblano and chiles en nogada, as well as less precisely-fixed fare, like a quesadilla with butter-poached lobster and red snapper for two.
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Casa Corazon is more refined in design and presentation than your typical Phoenix Mexican eatery. Generous windows admit swaths of daylight. Fine bits of purple cabbage ornament plates. The interior's, paintings, and naked brick feel on-trend, and so does the restaurant's heart-shaped logo, as well as the tiny bar spanning one road-facing corner.
Eaters of Mexican food, go check out Casa Corazon, a bit of a different spot now open on 16th Street.
Casa Corazon Restaurant. 2637 North 16th Street; 602-334-1917.
Daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.