Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza has kept busy during the COVID-19 shutdown. Her own Barrio Café has been operating as a community kitchen for weeks, involving other Phoenix-area chefs and giving away food every day at 5 p.m. However, as of Saturday, April 18, Esparza’s second restaurant, the art-filled, vegan-focused, Mexican-wine serving mole palace Barrio Café Gran Reserva, was closed — for good.
“With a broken heart I am sorry to inform you that due to zero funding and coronavirus, we are closing,” Esparza says via social media, along with a moving video tour of the compact Grand Avenue eatery. “In order to save the Barrio Cafe, we have to shut down Gran Reserva,” she states in another post.
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This is less than two months after Esparza was nominated for Best Chef, Southwest by the James Beard Foundation (again) for Barrio Café Gran Reserva. It was one of the most anticipated Valley restaurant openings in 2016.
That year, the eatery won a Best of Phoenix award for Best New Mexican Restaurant, and has won Best Upscale Mexican Restaurant in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
Barrio Café remains open.