At Mi Patio Mexican Food Restaurant, chefs set out plates filled with quesadillas, tacos, tostadas, and chimichangas. The Baja spinach and feta cheese chimi—deep-fried and oven-baked—features a housemade cream-cheese sauce and rice. Cucumber sauce, baked zucchini, and rice hides inside the gyros chimi, and housemade red and green chile sauces slather enchiladas and tamales, all made from scratch. The chefs also festoon party trays with flautas, tacos, and cinnamon apple raisin chimichangas, which are perfect for games of hot potato once the potato gets cold.
Restaurateur America Corrales is a native of Culiacán, in the Sinaloa region of Mexico, and she draws from her traditional culinary heritage for authentic delights like a Vampiro, bringing a grilled corn tortilla heaped with carne asada or pork al pastor, then topped with melted Monterey Jack cheese, guacamole, sweet caramelized onions and crisp shredded lettuce. Diners gather in the small, rustic but cheery adobo and mustard-painted shop to watch the cooks prepare each dish as its ordered, starting with corn tortillas and tender meat chopped for tacos, burritos, quesadillas and tortas. The signature at America’s Taco Shop is steak, marinated in fragrant citrus and spices then grilled on an open-flame gas grill, but the al pastor is equally tempting, a succulent pork spit-roasted on an authentic Mexican vertical rotisserie.
The story of Azteca Bakeries & Restaurant dates back to 1957, when Bernardo Lopez opened a small bakery in Phoenix. Bernardo's gimmick wasn't really a gimmick at all?he wanted only to craft Mexican pastries according to his family's oldest, most cherished recipes.
Those recipes have stood the test of time. Azteca's current owners continue to draw on them, using only all-natural ingredients to make sure their dishes stay true to Bernado's originals. Aside from pastries, their menu features hearty combination plates that pair tostadas with tacos and chimichangas. Other popular items include omelets for breakfast and large bowls of Cocido soup for drinking contests.
Following Baja Fresh’s ethos set in 1990 as a healthy take on fast food, never-frozen meats sizzle atop the grill before they're tucked into made-to-order tacos and burritos. Grilled corn and flour tortillas embrace fish, carnitas, chicken, and steak, and smoky queso fundido sidles onto nachos and into burritos. Between bites, chips scoop up salsa made from farm-fresh produce rather than poured out of a can or fabricated in a space-age replicator. A complimentary salsa bar ensures no mouthful goes unspiced, and guests can scoop up their favorites as they await their dine-in, takeout, or catering orders.
As might be expected, tortas are a highlight at this family-run counter operation –rumor has it there’s an abuela back there in the kitchen – where ultra-friendly staff prepare quick-service lunchtime meals for hungry locals. Meats range from chicken and carne asada to seasoned and braised pork, al pastor, mole and more, each dressed with requisite pickled jalapeños, carrots, lettuce and avocado. The signature Cubana model is a bestseller at this clean white-tiled walk up, loaded with pork and ham in a filling bit of lunchtime excess – and washed down with horchata. Diners craving soft or crispy tortillas instead of squishy bolillo bread can get tacos or burritos with similar fillings. To finish it all up, a vibrant salsa bar offers great variety.
Award-Winning Chef | Inventive Mexican Cuisine | 250 Types of Tequila | Calle 16 Mural Project
About the Chef: As the daughter of bakers, Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza has cooked all her life. Barrio Café, her first restaurant, has vindicated this lifelong passion. Since the restaurant opened in 2002, she's been inducted into the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame, featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, and nominated three times for the James Beard award. Along the way, the tattooed epicurean hasn't lost an iota of her devil-may-care personality. See, for example, the menu: “Conserve water, drink tequila.”
When to Go: Stop in for Sunday brunch from noon to 2 p.m., when live music pairs with guava mimosas and breakfast dishes such as eggs and chorizo or chilaquiles with chili sauce.
While You're Waiting: Chef Esparza is one of the originators of the Calle 16 mural project, and Barrio Café is one of its cornerstones. Head to the parking lot to admire the vibrant murals of Mexican iconography—including skulls and luchadores—drawn by local artists and muralists who have flocked to the area.
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Chef Esparza also runs Barrio Queen (7114 E. Stetson Drive, Suite 105, Scottsdale), which features 30 types of tacos and 200-plus tequilas.