Mexico City Memories at Chef Doug Robson's Otro Cafe in Phoenix

Blame Otro's very good Mexican dishes on chef Doug Robson, who has never let Mexico's Distrito Federal, the place he was born and raised, stray too far from memory.

In 2009, Robson realized his own restaurant in the form of Gallo Blanco, his Mexico City-style eatery in the Clarendon Hotel. In March, he opened his newest Mexico-inspired venture: Otro, a name meaning "other" in Spanish, in north Central Phoenix.

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It could be said Otro is a complement to Gallo Blanco in the way of very good, deftly prepared, and affordable traditional Mexican dishes made with local ingredients. In another sense, it's a more elevated companion that can hold its own -- a kind of Tom Waits to Billy Joel: both piano-based singer-songwriters, but one with a few more eclectic touches.

Here's an excerpt from this week's review:

"You'll want to order a salad, where Robson runs his love of Mexican and Spanish flavors through a staggeringly fresh garden of vegetables and with a near-perfect blending of tastes and textures. There is a lightly earthy Ensalada Española featuring pieces of dry-cured Spanish ham, olives, and goat cheese tossed in a lively vinaigrette, and an even better creation called the Inca. Featuring minuscule orbs of quinoa grains interspersed with nearly a dozen other ingredients -- fresh kernels of corn, dried cranberries, nutty pepitas, crunchy yulu seeds, and mint -- you may not be sure what the next bite will be, but it tastes like harvest time in South America all the same."

Hungry for more? Read my full review of Otro Cafe here.

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