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Three Food Stories From Phoenix That You Need to Read

The Colossal Loaded Fries & Rings is just one of the new menu items at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
The Colossal Loaded Fries & Rings is just one of the new menu items at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
Courtesy of Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns may not be winning yet, but the new menu at Talking Stick Resort Arena is undefeated this season. And we have two other stories from this past week to whet your future appetite and both of them involve Silvana Salcido Esparza. The Barrio Cafe owner will be one of the featured chefs at the the Devour 2019 Culinary Classic; in the meantime, she's continuing to scour the earth in search of the perfect barbecue to bring back to Phoenix. We'll stay tuned for that.

The Suns Spicy Chorizo Dog was named by season ticketholders.
The Suns Spicy Chorizo Dog was named by season ticketholders.
Courtesy of Phoenix Suns

Check Out All the New Food at Talking Stick Resort Arena for Suns' Opener
Attention, hungry basketball fans: Talking Stick Resort Arena debuted a number of new food options for the Phoenix Suns' 2018-2019 season. They're the creations of Levy Restaurants' Eileen Aguilera, the new executive chef for the arena, and include a fan-friendly lineup of stadium fare accented with Southwestern flavors. The Suns Spicy Chorizo Dog ($9) is topped with locally made Schreiner’s chorizo, black bean salsa, jack and cheddar cheese, fire-roasted green chiles, chipotle aioli, and crispy tortilla strips. Schreiner's chorizo also makes a cameo on the Suns Spicy Southwest Loaded Fries ($10), a pile of potatoes blanketed with spicy green chile queso, pico de gallo, and cilantro. The marquee item this year is the Colossal Loaded Fries & Rings ($15). It's exactly what it sounds like: a shareable portion of french fries buried underneath Four Peaks Kilt Lifter beer cheese sauce, bacon, chives, sour cream, and beer-battered onion rings, all served in a souvenir basketball bowl. Click here for more information about dining options at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

A main course from Kai at the Devour Culinary Classic in 2018.
A main course from Kai at the Devour Culinary Classic in 2018.
Melissa Fossum

Devour Culinary Classic Announces 2019 Chefs Lineup
Devour Culinary Classic, our Best of Phoenix 2018 winner for Best Culinary Festival, will be returning to the Desert Botanical Garden on Saturday, February 23, and Sunday, February 24, 2019. The festival just released the lineup for its 10th anniversary celebration, and it's a doozy. The 2019 Devour will bring Tamara Stanger (Cotton & Copper), Silvana Salcido Esparza (Barrio Cafe), and Jeff Smedstad (Elote Cafe) as the three VIP chefs, plus a real who's who of other local talent. Devour will also bring chefs from Aioli Gourmet Burgers, Otro Cafe, Cafe Lalibela, Gallo Blanco, Beckett's Table, Southern Rail, Clever Koi, The Larder + The Delta, Hula's Modern Tiki, Sweet Republic, and more. To see the full list of talent, head to Devour's website. Tickets to the popular festival will go on pre-sale to members on Thursday, November 1, and to the general public on November 9. Set your calendars, because these tickets tend to sell out fast.

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Esparza checking on meat and vegetables in her new upright smoker.
Esparza checking on meat and vegetables in her new upright smoker.
Chris Malloy

Barrio Cafe's Silvana Salcido Esparza Dreams of Barbecue, Part Two
Silvana Salcido Esparza, the pioneering chef at Barrio Cafe, is trailblazing again. She recently had a smoker custom-made for use at Barrio Cafe. A year ago, the first time we reported on Silvana’s dreams of barbecue, she was testing recipes for a barbecue joint she wanted to open in the distant future. Following a three-month journey to barbecue stands and shacks from California to Carolina, the future has clarified, the dream become more concrete. Esparza believes that barbecue came to America when the Chichimeca, the native people of northern Mexico, shared the secrets of pit barbecue with “the American cowboy.” “The Chichimecas were all the way up to Utah,” she says. “And so they were doing that technique [pit barbecue], as well as in New Mexico.” Now, at Barrio Café, Esparza is using wisdom from the road. She is experimenting, honing a progressive American-Mexican style that fits a chef who serves bread and olive tapenade — not chips and salsa — to open meals at her landmark Mexican restaurant.

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