Our first destination after landing in Phoenix was Barrio Cafe. Chef Sylvana was there to greet us at the door. Whether she greets all her clientele or we just had the lucky chance encounter, I don’t know, but it was a nice personal touch. And that’s what Sylvana and her partner Wendy Gruber want for their guests; a neighborhood restaurant where you feel welcome.
From the simple Mexican decor in the dining rooms to the religious experience (literally) you’ll have in the bathroom, Barrio Cafe is not your typical cookie-cutter restaurant. With the continental United States riddled with Tex-Mex restaurants, Barrio Cafe offers authentic Mexican cuisine with unique touches. Chef Sylvana studied Mexican cuisine from her mother, grandmother and her travels through Mexico in 2000-1. Her unique interpretation of her heritage is evident in her culinary creations and use of fresh ingredients.
Here’s a spin on the familiar… Guacamole made with pomegranate seeds. The cool fattiness of the advocado sharply contrasts with the tart pomegranate seeds. Pair it with the spicy peppers of the salsa and your tastebuds are on a roller coaster of intense flavors.
Mexico is known for its tacos, but this dish of Mayan slow roasted pork with salsa Yucateca, queso fresco and a hint of sour orange elevate this iconic street food to gourmet status.
I would love to tell you what this dish was called, but unfortunately, the name escapes me. What I can tell you is that it was delicious! Definitely try the plato del día.
These Mexico City style chicken enchiladas were heavenly. The love and attention put into the tomatillo cream sauce is savored in every bite. I woulld have loved to take a big jar of it home.
Barrio Cafe has been a permanent fixture of Phoenix’s food scene for over a decade. Tequila lovers will enjoy sampling the extensive list of 250 tequilas at the 1810 antique bar from Puebla. Remember that religious experience I mentioned earlier in the bathroom? Before or after dinner, be sure to give thanks for this neighborhood treasure….