New Restaurant Alert

Tacos Chiwas Opening New Tamales-Con-Cafe Concept in Phoenix

Tacos Chiwas recently installed the sign for Cafe Chiwas, the restaurant's new tamales, pastries, and coffee concept.
Tacos Chiwas recently installed the sign for Cafe Chiwas, the restaurant's new tamales, pastries, and coffee concept. Photo Courtesy of Tacos Chiwas
Great news, Tacos Chiwas fans.

Armando Hernandez and Nadia Holguin, the team behind the much-lauded Mexican taqueria and restaurant in Phoenix, will soon be debuting Cafe Chiwas, a new concept that will feature freshly made tamales, pastries, and coffee.

Hernandez says Cafe Chiwas will be an extension of the kind of small-batch, thoughtfully crafted, Chihuahua-inspired cooking you can currently find at Tacos Chiwas.

The new cafe will be located next door to Tacos Chiwas, in a small space that will have seating for around 20 or so diners. The spot will also offer grab-and-go service.

"We're not trying to do a large production," Hernandez said in an interview with New Times. "Basically, the idea behind the cafe is tamales and coffee."

Hernandez and his wife, Holguin, spent their early childhoods in Chihuahua, and the new cafe will evoke the early-morning ritual they both enjoyed growing up: devouring freshly made pastries and tamales for breakfast.

"For some reason, people don't associate coffee and tamales," says Hernandez. "But where we grew up, that was a natural thing. You have your cafe de olla and some tamales in the morning."

The restaurant will serve three different types of tamales, including one filled with Tacos Chiwas' signature chile Colorado, a Rajas tamale, and a third sweet tamale option that will change periodically.

All the production will be done every night inside the Tacos Chiwas kitchen, and then transported next door for consumption.

The cafe will also feature a daily rotating assortment of pan dulce, empanadas, and other sweet pastries.

"Nadia loves doing pastries. She's going to be doing the whole pastry part of it," says Hernandez.

There will also be a coffee bar serving espresso, lattes, and other coffee drinks. Hernandez says the plan is to also serve traditional Mexican drinks like champurrado. The cafe is currently working with Valley-based Press Coffee Roasters to source their beans.

The opportunity to open a companion cafe arose after a space opened up in the building just across the small parking lot where Tacos Chiwas is situated.

"You can access both of them from where you park," says Hernandez. "The idea is that you are able to kind of mix-and-match ... If you want to get food at Chiwas and then have some coffee afterwards, or some pastries next door, you can."

Hernandez says they are waiting for a final inspection to be completed, but hopes that Cafe Chiwas will open in March for a soft opening. Ideally, he says, the cafe will be open by March 4, which marks the first anniversary of Tacos Chiwas.

For now, hours of operation are still being sorted out. Hernandez says he believes the new cafe will be open earlier in the day, so diners can swing by for a grab-and-go breakfast.

"It won't be a huge production, but I love the idea of it," says Hernandez. "We just want to get better at our craft."
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Patricia Escárcega was Phoenix New Times' food critic.