It’s all about food for Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza. But she, who brought us the beloved local Barrio Café chain, always mixes in some local stops along the way to her favorite eats. Headed to a solo picnic at Papago Park, Esparza stops at Honey Bear’s BBQ for some to-go pulled pork and a hot sausage sandwich. “I love to watch the sunset over my beloved Phoenix,” says the celebrated restaurateur, “with airplanes like a swarm of bees in that beautiful, one-of-a-kind Phoenix sky. This little combo is a favorite I’ve been doing since 1995!”
On days off, she hops into her 1965 Chevy Impala convertible and cruises through Tempe, heading for a hot link from Ted’s Hot Dogs. “Then I go across the street and have a Bada Bing Italian ice from Joe’s, and finish with an open-air ride to Apache Junction, where I look at the beautiful Arizona sky.” She wraps up this journey “listening to country music at the saloon in Goldfield, that little ghost town.”
Back in the hood she calls home, Esparza can’t stay away from Los Altos Ranch Market. “They have everything,” she claims. “Caldo, aquas, everyday groceries. The only thing that makes my visit better is the enjoyable bike ride or walk from my house on 16th Street.” Along the way she admires Calle 16’s colorful murals and hidden-gem eateries. “Tortas El Guero and an ice cream from the next-door Realeza Michoacana make my neighborhood a complete Mexican knockout,” Esparza says. “I live where I work, and I love it.”
• There’s nothing more local for me than Christown Spectrum Mall (1703 West Bethany Home Road, 602-249-0670). A little shopping, a little eating, and a clothes-on massage — that’s Phoenix for me.
• I love authentic food, so you can find me enjoying good old New Mexican cuisine at the iconic Los Dos Molinos (1044 East Camelback Road, 602-528-3535).
• Los Altos Ranch Market (1602 East Roosevelt Road, 602-253-6874) has it all. The only thing better than being there is getting there on my bike. Weather permitting, I sometimes walk.
• My all-time favorite Phoenix hike is South Mountain’s Kiwanis Trail, up to Telegraph Pass. This one gives you everything you want from Arizona in terms of natural beauty, with a view of the Valley that makes your jaw drop and reminds you why you live here.