Little Anita's New Mexican restaurant closes in Chandler | Phoenix New Times

New Mexico-style restaurant Little Anita's closes in Chandler

The East Valley restaurant was the chain's first Arizona location.
Little Anita's served a variety of New Mexican food. It's Chandler restaurant has now closed.
Little Anita's served a variety of New Mexican food. It's Chandler restaurant has now closed. Geri Koeppel
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Little Anita's New Mexican Foods opened its first Arizona location in August 2022. In October, we determined after a first taste, that it did not, in fact, live up to the hype. Now, after less than two years, the restaurant has closed.

The restaurant is a chain that opened its first location in Albuquerque in 1976. Over the decades, it expanded throughout New Mexico, into Colorado and eventually, into Arizona. The first Grand Canyon State location was in a former Juan Jaime's restaurant in Chandler.

When the chain announced its impending arrival in Arizona, fans were excited. But it seems the hype didn't turn into patronage.

click to enlarge Little Anita's Chandler restaurant dining room.
The dining area at Little Anita's in Chandler featured a mural by Leila Parnian.
Geri Koeppel
For our First Taste, our writer found the guacamole to be darkened and slimy, the bean dip watery and the signature green and red chiles to be washed out and bland.

"Perhaps the restaurant's charms were lost at the state line," Phoenix New Times contributor Geri Koeppel wrote, "but this subpar effort does nothing to celebrate the usually delectable cuisine of the Land of Enchantment."

Some recent Yelp reviews echoed the same sentiments and one positive reviewer enjoyed the food but noted that the dining room was "surprisingly empty a lot of the time we go there."

The restaurant, on Chandler Boulevard, is now permanently closed. The closure fits in with a reduction in the overall chain. When the Chandler restaurant opened, there were nine locations in New Mexico and four in Colorado. There are now six in New Mexico and only one in Colorado.

Those who are fans can still find a taste of Little Anita's in Arizona, however. The chain has a second location on Thomas Road and 16th Street, which remains open.
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