Now Open

Now Open: A Wide-Ranging Mexican Joint with Upscale Touches in South Phoenix

Green chile pork enchiladas from Cocina Madrigal.
Green chile pork enchiladas from Cocina Madrigal. Chris Malloy
Two weeks ago, a Mexican restaurant with upscale touches opened on 16th Street in south Phoenix. Cocina Madrigal offers a burger, turkey sandwich, and beef tenderloin, as well as tacos that sell for north of $10 for a trio. That qualifies the restaurant as upscale. The menu, clearly, strays some from Mexican.

The chef, Leo Madrigal, was born in Mexico City. He started cooking in the megalopolis as a teenager. He then left for Houston, and left Houston for Phoenix some 30 years ago. He tends to cook with the flavors of Mexico City and Oaxaca, but his style isn't strictly Mexican.

click to enlarge The main dining room and bar area. - CHRIS MALLOY
The main dining room and bar area.
Chris Malloy
Over those 30 years, Madrigal says he has helped open a number of restaurants, including the First Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Scottsdale and Z'Tejas. This has led his style to flavors and dishes beyond those of his youth. These dishes and flavors have a home at Cocina Madrigal, where Madrigal, settling into the first eatery he has owned, cooks what he wants.

There is a taco menu, complete with the likes of steak, al pastor, achiote-rubbed chicken, and shrimp. There are enchiladas stuffed with fillings like beef birria and green chile pork. But there, too, are two pasta dishes, and a chicken breast with artichokes, mushrooms, and soy-mustard cream.

Appetizers skew more south of the border. Madrigal plates standbys like elote, queso fundido, quesadillas, made-to-order guacamole, and more.

click to enlarge Steak, shrimp, and al pastor tacos. - CHRIS MALLOY
Steak, shrimp, and al pastor tacos.
Chris Malloy
For the crowd of light eaters, it is worth noting that there are salads, including a charred romaine shindig and a bowl of mixed greens billed as Jamaican.

Drinks revolve around that lime-green Southwestern star: the margarita.

The restaurant has 105 seats. After the summer, a patio will open. TVs are prominently displayed in corners, and there's a bar area in the back.

Cocina Madrigal. 4044 South 16th Street; 602-243-9000.
Sunday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. 
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Chris Malloy, former food editor and current food critic at Phoenix New Times, has written for various local and national outlets. He has scrubbed pots in a restaurant kitchen, earned graduate credit for a class about cheese, harvested garlic in Le Marche, and rolled pastas like cappellacci stuffed with chicken liver. He writes reviews but also narrative stories on the food world's margins.
Contact: Chris Malloy