Margaritas in the ghetto
A little bit of travel for the best Mexican food north of Mexico.
>One of the first things I announced when I arrived in Phoenix on Saturday was my desire for good Mexican food. As I’m right on the border of Mexico, I figured that shouldn’t be a hard desire to fulfill.
Now, throw out any notion you have of Mexican food being mushy meat and re fried beans with a tortilla or corn chips smothered in sour cream and guacamole, because authentic Mexican food looks nothing like that.
Jessica and I started the day yesterday with me introducing her to macaroons (apparently a new rage in town); then a trip to an outlet store and then we headed south.
South Phoenix is the equivalent of Western Sydney or the Eastend of London; somewhere that being white makes you a minority. The signs are bi-lingual (English and Spanish) and even the McDonald’s billboard was advertising Coke for “un dollah”.
We saw a few jacked up cars, playing a lot of bass driven by blokes in caps.
In other words, two whites girls stuck out.
But, being heavily populated by Mexicans meant damn good food.
After driving up a cacti covered mountain for the spectacular view and nearly running over some downhill skateboarders and cyclists, we headed to a place called Barrio Cafe. First come first served and the place was packed by 6:30.
Margaritas were first on the order; a house margarita with smooth tequila and a nice tart flavour.
Bread and salsa came out next; tomatoes, chilli, garlic, black beans, coriander and olive tapanade, which is apparently a traditionalist’s homage to the mother country Spain.
Then guacamole, made at the table; avocado, salt, lime juice, diced tomato, red onion, jalapenos, coriander leaves and pomegranate seeds. Delicious! The burst of pomegranate cut through the salt and tartness of the lime.
In order to fit in dessert we ordered a main between us and hearing the Cochinita pilbil was good, we chose that. Cochinita pilbil translates to something along the lines of “baby pig cooked in pit covered by banana leaves”.
It had been cooked for 12 hours and melted in the mouth. Served with zucchini, rich buttery mashed potato, onions, tomatoes, a sauce and soft tacos. Nothing had been cooked in bucket loads of oil and everything was fresh and very, very, very tasty.
We ordered dessert to take away and I chose the churros with vanilla bean ice cream, the type that you can see the little flecks of black vanilla bean in. The churros were filled with a light caramel cream and deep fried to perfection, served with fresh strawberries, roasted pecans and drizzles in a rich, thick, gooey caramel sauce.
When there is food like that on offer, I’m happy to travel to “da hood” anytime.