The Tasting at Barrio Cafe Grand Reserva Phoenix AZ – Worth a Fork!


James Beard Nominated Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza opened and runs the Barrio Cafe Grand Reserva. This TINY at the most 8 small table restaurant that serves fine chef crafted Mexican Food that is very unique. ┬áThe food is prepared with hard to find imported Mexican ingredients. These ingredients are very seasonal so the flavors will change with the season….The restaurant offers a menu that includes the dishes that the chef is famous for such as her famous chunky Guacamole topped with Pomegranate seeds, Cochinita Pibil (marinated slow roasted pork) and Chiles en Nogada (poblano pepper stuffed with fruits nuts (sometimes chicken) and topped with a cream sauce). The Menu at Barrio Cafe Gran Reserva also contains new favorites. They offer a five course tasting menu with meat or a similar vegan style menu with optional Mexican Wine pairings…..You sure aren’t going to find anything like this anywhere else!

Like the food the atmosphere is very unique. It starts on the outside….The parking lot and all around the restaurant are all whimsical and is decorated up like nothing you ever seen before.

Inside are beautiful hand painted paintings of Mexican Folklore by Mexican Artist.

Remember I told you that this is a Tiny Restaurant…This is the WHOLE DINING ROOM. I am in the bar looking in. It looks like a vestibule.

We did the tasting menu….It differed slightly from last time mostly due to the seasonal ingredients.

They started us off with a spicy Mexican trail mix of tortilla chips, seeds, nuts and spicy hot chile dust.

Next was a melon amuse bouche.

Here’s the tiny bar.

Here’s the Vegan Spicy, Sweet and Tangy Fruit and Vegetable Salad that wakes you up!

This is the small tight area where everything comes out of the kitchen and bar.

The next course contains Hoja Santa Leaf….a key ingredient to certain Mexican dishes. I know of a very delicious Mexican Peanut Chicken dish where the Hoja Santa Leaf is essential. Here the leaf is paired with sweet grilled pineapple and a 14 chile oil with menonita cheese. Umm Tasty.

Here’s a peek where some of the magic happens.

Next course was Halibut with salsa and pervano white beans.

I guess I accidentally confused the bartender that took my order and got the vegan plate that came with cactus instead of fish. My husband asked to correct things with the bartender while I said I’d keep it….All of a sudden the Chef comes out and she insist that she will have halibut out for me in a minute….WOW wasn’t that great!

I have to say the Halibut was really great. It had a delicious char and was so moist and fresh. It was a 100 times BETTER than the fish I recently had at a fish Restaurant in Phoenix. I personally don’t care for the texture of cactus pads because they are similar to okra but they did have a really great flavor. The SALSA was super awesome. This salsa should be sold at supermarkets. Incredibly delicious as well as the fresh made beans. Very Very good. The beans had a nice sweet creaminess about them.

Everything was great but I thought this course was the most complex and special.

Everything…each component on the plate can tell a story. Each is full of many flavors but they all go together. There is a mole squash (or duck) taco that is full of flavors and is on a house made nixtamalized tortilla. The carrot was candied, green beans are layered with flavors, there is smoked sweet potato with pecans, an interesting chayote also known as pear squash, a potato. This was a really stellar plate.

We ended with Yams with Guavas and Chocolate Mousse. It was a sweet ending to a lovely meal. The whole staff was very welcoming to us and made light conversation with us. Philip also made an extra effort to welcome us and thanked us for dining and he wasn’t even our waiter.

Worth a Fork!

Worth a Fork! You would travel across town to dine here!

Everything is subject to change and your experience may or may not differ.

The Forking Truth



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