The Essential Mexican Restaurant Dish Best Ordered with a To-Go Box

You're probably going to want to take half of this baby home.
You're probably going to want to take half of this baby home. Jacob Tyler Dunn

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.

click to enlarge
Mi Patio.
Jacob Tyler Dunn
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.

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Lauren Cusimano was the Phoenix New Times food editor from 2018 to 2021. Joys include eating wings, riding bikes, knowing everyone at the bar, talking too much about The Simpsons, and falling asleep while reading.

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