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.
37: Carne adovada sliders at Dick's Hideaway
There's no obvious signage or marked entrances at Dick's Hideaway in uptown Phoenix. To find this low-key restaurant, look for the bougainvillea blooming near the unmarked door next to Luci's Healthy Marketplace.
Or just follow the sound of laughter and clinking glassware.
Dick's Hideaway, and its sister restaurants Richardson's Cuisine of New Mexico and Rokerij, have been serving top-notch New Mexican-style cuisine in uptown Phoenix for more than two decades.
Owner Richardson Browne opened Richardson's in 1988, which was followed by Dick's Hideaway, and then the subterranean, Euro-styled Rokerij. Brown's small restaurant empire has been through a lot over the years, including a fire that burned down the original location of Richardson's in 2009 (the restaurant successfully rebuilt next door to Rokerij).
Over the years, the three Richardson family restaurants have remained stalwarts of the bold, fiery tradition of northern New Mexico cooking. Tourists who come to Arizona hoping to eat the way they did in Albuquerque or Santa Fe are sometimes puzzled to find that the American Southwest is not one big amorphous land of green chile and deep-fried chimichangas. The region is huge and diverse, and "Southwestern" food is too big of a label to contain it all.
If you're specifically on the hunt for the unabashedly spicy, sun-burnished flavors of New Mexico in metro Phoenix, the Richardson family of restaurants can feel like a godsend.
Menus at the three restaurants overlap quite a bit. Classic Richardson's dishes like Chimayo chicken, green chile sausages smothered in melted cheese, and New Mexican-style enchiladas can be ordered at any of the three locations.
Carne adovada is a house staple at the three restaurants, and it's wonderful: succulent, smoked pork roast that's been long-simmered in a deeply earthy red chile sauce. It's an exceptionally saucy, succulent carne adovada, which is available as an entree, or smothered with cheddar cheese and stuffed into three shiny slider buns.
If I had to pick a place to sit on a bar stool and down a whole plate of these, it would be at Dick's Hideaway, a dark, shoe box-shaped restaurant where you can sit at the bar and watch the cooks work the rotating rotisserie spit in the open kitchen.
Local dining legend has it that former President George W. Bush made a surprise visit to Dick's Hideaway back in 2004, enjoying a quiet dinner surrounded by locals in the restaurant's packed dining room. Did he try the carne adovada? Reports from back then indicate that he missed out on Dick's great carne adovada, opting instead for enchiladas. But as the guy who sat next to me at the bar at Dick's Hideaway told me a few days ago: "You could throw a dart at the menu here because everything is good."
Dick's Hideaway, 6008 North 16th Street, 602-241-1881.
Sunday through Wednesday 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday 7 a.m. to midnight.
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
39: Brûlée burger from Paradise Valley Burger Company
38: Hand-pulled noodles from China Magic Noodle House
37: Carne adovada sliders at Dick's Hideaway
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