Welcome to The Essentials, our catalog of indispensable and quintessential Phoenix food and drink. From now until May, we'll be sharing 50 dishes, drinks, and food experiences that make up the culinary backbone (and personality) of metro Phoenix. This list is highly eclectic, mixing classics with newer and lesser-known favorites. But all The Essentials have one thing in common: We think they're required eating (and drinking) in metro Phoenix.
Now up, a classic Mexican-food platter with a seafoam twist.
44: The Baja Spinach & Feta Cheese Chimi at Mi Patio
Let’s put it this way, just to be fair: The chimichanga was invented somewhere in this state (re: the feud of Tucson versus Phoenix on the origins of this deep-fried dish).
With that settled, there’s an old-school Phoenix establishment, Mi Patio Mexican Restaurant, that’s known for super fast chip and salsa service, house-made margaritas, and some of the best smothered chimis this side of any major waterway.
A Mi Patio Especial, the Baja Spinach & Feta Cheese Chimi is one of those good-to-the-last-bite dishes. This is a deep-fried and oven-baked chimi containing and topped with the restaurant’s baja cream cheese sauce – a creamy, seafoam-green dressing that could go with just about anything on the menu. The chimi is packed with stringy spinach, and covered in gooey cheese. It's flanked by Spanish rice and shredded lettuce, and the Baja sauce and cheese usually cover any real estate close to the main attraction. If you don’t have that last bite in you, this thing reheats really well at home.
Here’s a pro tip: If you need a little protein during your meal, ask for the spinach chimi mixed with the Baja Chicken Burro – also a Mi Patio Especial. And if you love that Baja sauce as much as we do, ask for an extra side, as the chips will keep coming.
The family-owned Mi Patio has been around since 1984, and happens to be a Phoenix Chamber of Commerce member. The dining room aesthetic is classically kitschy, and it’s open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The Essentials so far:
50: Tequila Sunrise at the Arizona Biltmore.
49: "Dragon" Dumpling Burger at Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour.
48: Dizzy Fig Empanada at Republica Empanada.
47: Linguine Carbonara at Avanti.
46: The Food Court at Mercado de los Cielos.
45: Chicken Feta Salad at George's Kitchen.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.