Few chefs, particularly in this city, transcend. Beyond the kitchens they orchestrate, beyond the prudential menus they’re often handcuffed to write, beyond the food.
Four-time James Beard nominee Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza falls into that exclusive column of local chefs who do. Sure there are budgets to follow and practical lines to shade between, but so much of what Silvana has to offer has nothing to do with cooking good food. It’s about her spirit. From her local advocacy for the arts to progressive political issues near and dear, she’s a teacher, a conduit for Phoenix’s still-adolescent urban zeitgeist. We all should be listening—and supporting—what she does next.
After launching the ageless Barrio Cafe in 2002, inoculating local diners with the virtues of patient cochinita pibil, heady mole and guacamole with care, Salcido Esparza has been on a continued road of discovery and growth ever since. After multiple concepts, hiccups, raves, and all, her latest project Barrio Cafe Gran Reserva brings her full circle to what she loves most: the food, her adopted hometown of Phoenix, and telling her vibrant story in new and compelling ways.
Once again, Salcido Esparza takes the road less traveled. Wedged inside a rejuvenated 1946 art deco flatiron at 1301 W. Grand Ave., historically known as the Bragg’s Pie Factory building, Barrio Cafe Gran Reserva is located along a Downtown stretch of Grand Avenue’s budding arts district—a neighborhood primed to rise. The 27-seat jewel box features floor-to-ceiling windows framing the urban horizon and special bar seating inside the kitchen known as Pinky’s Table, where diners obtain unobstructed hot line views.
Designed around continually updated tasting menus ($35-60) and finite daily specials, expect a few classic Barrio Cafe moments on the menu (dishes that helped elevate Salcido Esparza’s name ID from New Times to New York Times), but even more excitingly: new items born entirely of her whims. The latter being the most anxious prize, as for those of us who know the chef well, Gran Reserva allows us all to experience first-hand her continued creative growth in the kitchen, and on our plates. Diners will also discover an agave-anchored cocktail program and wine experience built around carefully curated Mexican-grown varietals.
Barrio Cafe Gran Reserva is now open for business and reservations are not only being accepted, they are recommended. Visit BarrioCafeGranReserva.com now for dinner reservations and menu updates as they become available.