Welcome to the 2018 edition of The Essentials, our catalog of indispensable and quintessential Phoenix food and drink. From now until May, we'll be sharing 50 dishes, drinks, and food experiences that make up the culinary backbone (and personality) of metro Phoenix. This list is highly eclectic, mixing classics with newer and lesser-known favorites. But all The Essentials have one thing in common: We think they're required eating (and drinking) in metro Phoenix.
40: Green chile at Casa Reynoso
I know somebody who used to happily drive more than 100 miles from Tucson to Globe to eat the chile verde at Chalo's Casa Reynoso, a classic Arizona-Mex restaurant that remains a mainstay of the Globe-Miami area.
Globe-Miami might be famous as high desert mining country, but it's just as well-known for its hearty chile plates, souped-up burros ("burritos" is a California affectation, a local old-timer once told me), and home-style Mexican combo platters as it is for its historic open-pit mines.
If you've had the pleasure of eating chile verde at Casa Reynoso — or you know first-hand the special magic contained within a bowl of homemade pork chile verde — then driving a 100 miles to get it will probably strike you as a totally sensible and expedient kind of road trip.
Casa Reynoso's most famous chile verde dish is the Gollo Burro, which features ultra-savory pork stewed in roasted green chiles and onions, paired with whole pinto beans, and wrapped inside a sturdy, buttery flour tortilla. It's outrageously flavorful, and best eaten with a knife and fork.
Lucky for us, Casa Reynoso's famed Gollo Burro, and its beloved green chile, is available right here in metro Phoenix. You'll find them being made at Casa Reynoso, a classic Tempe Mexican restaurant that's been tucked away in the Fry's Shopping Plaza near Mill Avenue and Southern since the early 1980s.
Casa Reynoso has fed generations of Tempe families, and it still serves many of the recipes pioneered at the original Globe location by the late Salustia Reynoso, whose children and grandchildren carry on the family tradition of chile plates and homestyle combo platters here in the Valley.
The Gollo Burro remains one of Casa Reyonso's top-sellers, but if you want to get lost inside the smoky, spicy, unabashedly porky dish, order up one of the restaurant's chile plates.
There are several options, including the Verde Half & Half — chile verde served with beans and a buttered-up flour tortilla on the side. And there's the One Third Chile Plate, which features one-third of either red or green chile (your choice), plus cheese-slicked refried beans and Mexican rice.
Want to try both the green and red chile? Order the Charro Completo, a saucy, mouth-watering burrito that brilliantly brings together the restaurant's notably mellower red chile and spicier green chile.
But at Casa Reynoso, it all comes down to the green chile. Every family has its own special way of cooking chile verde, and the one here is pleasantly drippy, thick, and just spicy enough to separate the kids from the adults at the table.
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True, this is hardly the trendiest place in town to eat green chile. The Casa Reynoso dining room, with its faded old-school hacienda decor, looks like it hasn't been updated since the Reagan administration. There's almost always a wait, which means you'll have to crowd into the restaurant's small lobby, which is decorated with vintage family photos and totems of Mexican ranch life — note the steer horns nailed to the wall. You will probably be forced to wait longer than you would like for a booth to open up.
But this is green chile, after all. It's worth the trouble.
Casa Reynoso, 3138 South Mill Avenue, Tempe; 480-966-0776.
Tuesdays through Thursdays 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Fridays & Saturdays 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Sundays 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Closed Mondays
The Essentials so far:
50: Soul food platter at Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles
49: The Bear at Short Leash Hot Dogs + Rollover Doughnuts
48: Grilled squid and other specialties at Andreoli Italian Grocer
47: I-10 Nachos at Cocina 10
46: Coffee made from ROC2 beans
45: The Haturo Sub Sandwich at Cheese 'n Stuff
44: Zookz at Zookz
43: Jade Red Chicken at Chino Bandido
42: Tasting menu at Quiessence at The Farm
41: Single-origin Papua New Guinea Bar at Zak's Chocolate
40: Green chile at Casa Reynoso