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Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza brings magic to this art-filled hole-in-the-wall, with regional specialties of central-southern Mexico. For extra impact, she adds French accents, with marvelous results. Dishes change monthly, but highlights include posole verde, spinach-crab-mushroom-cheese crepes, fresh fish grilled in a banana leaf, and 12-hour roasted pork. Insist on desserts, like a goat's-milk caramel crepe with vanilla-bean ice cream.
I've done it. I've committed to living in Phoenix again after spending years in Manhattan and Brooklyn. I was a student at NYU in a self-constructed program of Food and Environmental Studies, sourci... More »
2013 has already seen the birth of one new food and beverage industry awards. This time, it's the Arizona Restaurant Association's turn to give props to "industry players embody the pursuit -- the ach... More »
After all the goodness Saturday's Devoured offered, we sent two more of Chow Bella's finest out to tag-team the more than 40 vendors at the event on Sunday. Heather Hoch and Minerva Orduna roamed the ... More »
Looking for something to put in your mouth this weekend? We've got you covered. Check out what's on our plate. See Also: Announcing the Caramel Makers for Smeeks & Chow Bella's Caramelpalooza 2013! ... More »
HUGE disappointment!!! My sisters, grandma and mother(party of 9) ate at Barrio Cafe and NONE OF US liked our food. It was overpriced, over rated and the service was VERY slow. The waitress messed up our orders twice and we waited a while just to get our bill. Then, they messed up our bill. If your looking for flour tortillas, beans, rice or any sort of burritos, they don't serve it. Artwork is fantastic, liked the music and guacamole was delicious.
Too many restaurants treat Mexican dishes like diner food — they crank them out quickly and cheaply, and if the stuff happens to be tasty, well, you're lucky. In the hands of a talented chef, though, Mexico's culinary traditions can be downright sophisticated, not to mention surprising. At Barrio Café, guacamole, prepared tableside, is anything but run of the mill, while even the humble chile relleno is transformed by a filling of shrimp and scallops. Chef-owner Silvana Salcido Esparza's a well-traveled lady, and it shows, from Mexico City-style chicken enchiladas topped with tomatillo cream sauce to slow-roasted, fork-tender cochinita pibil (pork with achiote rojo and sour orange), a Yucatecan specialty. Even the desserts are unusual, including goat's milk-caramel-topped crepes, caramel-filled churros, and Oaxacan chocolate cake. With so many luscious flavor combinations and mouthwatering presentations, Barrio Café will give you a whole new perspective on Mexican cuisine.
you know how something is awesome? "PHOENIX NEW TIMES BEST OF 2009 BEST BADASS CHEF SILVANA SALCIDO ESPARZA" Blammo. Best badass chef. This place is killer. Definitely go check it out for a glass of wine and some great food.
At Barrio Café, you won't find standard, Sonoran-style Mexican fare. Instead of delivering burritos served with cheese-smothered refried beans, chef Silvana Salcido Esparza has created a menu of modern Mexican food for the urban masses. Complex and creative dishes like the cohinita pibil are what keep us coming back for more. The Yucatan stewed cochinita pibil is a mass of saucy pork slow-roasted in banana leaves until fork-tender. Sour orange and achiote paste lends the dish a rich... More »
Barrio Cafe chef Silvana Salcido Esparza turned 50 this year, and she was pissed. It wasn't the number of candles on her cake or years she's spent building her restaurant business on 16th Street -- it was Arizona Senate Bill 1070. Esparza's been glued to the news and images of Arizona's Mexican community in all its lackluster glory on the big screen. "Oh, we have a vibrant community here," she says. "We just need a center for that community to really shine." So she started with her back... More »
There are few greater tributes to the glory of pork than how chef Silvana Salcido Esparza does it at Barrio Cafe. Yes, her cochinita pibil is one of her most famous dishes and, no, it can't be bested by anyone around. Slow-roasted for 12 hours -- until it's falling apart and truly does melt in your mouth -- the pork is smothered in achiote rojo and sour orange, just the way they make it in the Yucatán. If you have the time and appetite, we recommend just ordering the... More »
We're pretty convinced that the more ingredients there are in a mole recipe, the quicker you'll be hooked on it once you try it. But of course, we'll never know for sure because the best mole recipes also happen to be the most closely guarded -- and for good reason. The flavors are so rich and complex that it takes only one taste to fall under mole's charms. There are numerous styles of the sauce in Mexico, all made with various kinds of chile peppers, herbs, spices, and other... More »
There is only one chef in the Valley who would have no qualms about referring to the majority of the men in the culinary world as "10-foot-high tokes."With her cropped hair, unedited demeanor, eclectic art collection, and some of the best leg tattoos around, Silvana Salcido Esparza is clearly as badass as they come. Oh, and she's also one of the Valley's best-known and most respected chefs. Esparza owns and runs Barrio Café with her partner, Wendy Gruber, and serves up some of the... More »
Too many restaurants treat Mexican dishes like diner food -- they crank them out quickly and cheaply, and if the stuff happens to be tasty, well, you're lucky. In the hands of a talented chef, though, Mexico's culinary traditions can be downright sophisticated, not to mention surprising. At Barrio Café, guacamole, prepared tableside, is anything but run of the mill, while even the humble chile relleno is transformed by a filling of shrimp and scallops. Chef-owner Silvana Salcido... More »
Finding the best liquor selection is just a matter of geography. If you want a killer poured pint, visit an Irish bar. For wine, try a European bistro. So, it's no surprise that we discovered the best tequila selection at a top-rated Mexican restaurant. Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza's neighborhood cafe boasts more than 250 top-shelf, premium, and Super-Jalisco tequilas, from the classic and relatively inexpensive Jose Cuervo to rarer, extra-añejo (well-aged) varieties. Because the... More »
A lot's been written about chef-owner Silvana Salcido Esparza's creative, contemporary Mexican fare, from the fresh guacamole with pomegranate seeds, prepared tableside, to her hauntingly delicious cochinita pibil, fork-tender pork that's been slow-cooked for 12 hours.Indeed, we still think Barrio Café is worthy of every "Best of" we've given it. But brunch here is still -- 'til now, anyway -- an unsung pleasure, with distinctive dishes you won't find anywhere else in town.The... More »
A craving for Mexican food and a craving for Barrio Cafe's memorable fare are two completely different things. It's almost as if chef Silvana Salcido Esparza intentionally set out to defy diners' expectations, combining her own dazzling ideas with traditional flavors found in southern Mexican cuisine. Looking for chips and salsa to land on your table? Instead, you'll get a basket of soft, fresh bread with garlicky homemade olive spread. Think quesadillas are all about chicken and melted jack... More »
Silvana Salcido Esparza, owner and executive chef of Barrio Cafe, is proud of the series of tattoos that decorate her right leg. For her, tattooing isn't just the trendy thing to do, but a way of expressing and paying homage to her culture. "I didn't start getting tattoos until I was 35," says Esparza, who's now 45. "So it's not like I'm some kid who runs into the tattoo shop and runs out half an hour later with a new tattoo." In fact, Esparza reports that her tattoos took countless hours... More »
We've been sampling fancy desserts at Mexican restaurants in this town for so long that -- we're embarrassed to admit -- we remember eating deep-fried ice cream at Willy and Guillermo's. Thank goodness we've grown up, and so has Mexican cuisine in Phoenix. One of our favorite adults is Barrio Cafe, where you can top your meal with incredible French press coffee and a dessert that will make you happy you skipped that second basket of bread. We love anything chef Silvana Salcido serves that's... More »
Barrio Cafe may be the ultimate proof of the existence of karma. This slammin' little eatery on 16th Street has been hailed by all and sundry, from the New York Times and Food and Wine magazine to nearly every rag in P-town, save maybe for Erotica Phoenix. All Barrio needs now is for Yahweh to part the heavens and reenact his Sistine Chapel shtick with a nekkid chef Silvana Salcido Esparza playing Adam with tattoos and breasts. But, hey, we ain't here to playa-hate. Esparza and business... More »
If you haven't tried horchata, the sweet, refreshing Mexican rice drink, you're depriving yourself of dessert in a cup. Made with rice, sugar and cinnamon, it's a beverage you'll find at most Mexican restaurants in the Valley. But there's something extra special about the horchata at Barrio Café. Served in a charming, old-fashioned glass bottle, it's got the luscious, creamy consistency of chocolate milk and a flavor reminiscent of rice pudding. Sipped between bites of Chef Silvana... More »
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