Monday, September 14, 2009

Barrio Cafe

The other night we went to a Phoenix landmark; Barrio Cafe. Richard and I first heard about it last year reading Phoenix magazine. It had been voted the best Mexican restaurant in the valley. As you can imagine living in a state bordering Mexico- that's no easy feat. Soon, we seemed to be hearing about it everywhere. The problem was- no one really knew where it was.

Part if what makes it such a local treasure is how inconspicuous it is. Even with Google map directions, we almost drove right past it.

The picture above is extremely deceiving as it's a tiny building on the side of a major street in the actual barrio (hence the name). There's no signage, no parking. Just this little, unassuming house turned into a restaurant that has been serving authentic Mexican food (with a twist) and all the tequila you can drink for decades.

Everything there was delicious and I loved the atmosphere. An old Hispanic man sat in the corner playing the guitar and singing in spanish. Waiters made guacamole table side- one of the restaurant's signature dishes, and the tiny bar in the front of the restaurant was jam packed with rows and rows of tequila bottles.

I had an "organic" margarita. I'm not really one for tequila and I'm not really sure what made it organic- but it was delicious. And so simple to make:
- patron silver
- fresh squeezed lime juice
- fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
- pomegranate juice (I always suggest Pom)
- ice
- sugar rim (they offered sugar or salt so this one's a preference call)

And of course we tried the guacamole. It was very similar to what I make at home with one interesting twist; fruit. In season they use pomegranates. This time of year they had cranberries.

The key is not to over-mix it, use really fresh ingredients, and taste as you go.

Ingredients: (to feed 2-4 people)
4-6 avocados
1 white onion (they used red, but I prefer white)
1-2 green jalapenos (depending on how much kick you want)
2 tomatoes
1 bunch of cilantro
1 lime
3/4 cup of dried cranberries

1. Cut the lime into 6 wedges.
2. Cut the avocados in half and take out the pits. Cut each half into 6-8 pieces. Scoop all the avocados into a large bowl. (use the same bowl you're using for service)
3. Squeeze a lime wedge over the avocados. By doing this throughout the process you add flavor and keep the guacamole from turning brown.
4. Dice the onion, jalapenos (don't forget to seed them first!), tomatoes, and cilantro. Add them all in the bowl.
5. Squeeze on another lime wedge.
6. Important! Do not mix with a spoon! Take a knife and "cut" the guacamole to mix it without turning it to mush.
7. Add salt and pepper to taste.
8. Add in cranberries and repeat the "cutting" process. It should only take a minute to get them thoroughly mixed. Do not over-mix!
9. One more lime wedge on top, and a little more salt and pepper (if you like).

And now you have 3 lime wedges left over for your organic margaritas! Genius!

If you are in the area, try Barrio cafe. It really is worth the adventure into "the barrio."

But if you're reading this from far away- make some cranberry guacamole and a margarita at home and enjoy!


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