Ethnic Food Is Showing Off Its Roots
By John Mariani
Americans are up for anything these days — maybe because we've seen every imaginable ingredient devoured on TV. So chefs like these four are serving food that makes no compromises.
Barrio Queen, Scottsdale, Arizona
Silvana Salcido Esparza is finally happy.After running several popular Mexican cafés in Scottsdale, making endless trips south of the border for ingredients, and trying to wean gringos off enchilada platters, she's doing what she was apparently born for — translating her formidablepasiónand knowledge into a reality.
"Whenever I go to Mexico, I make it a point to do two things: visit the main church orcapilla,and find the town'smercado," she says. "I would extend my stays in remote towns so I could wait for themercado ambulante —the traveling market, where I find the heartbeat of Mexico. I can only hope to honor that tradition at Barrio Queen." Every inch of it is an expression of Esparza's cultural roots, including the Día de los Muertos skeletons. I could see Tarantino blocking out his next movie here without touching a thing. Everything people love about true Mexican food is intensified by Esparza, from thecochinita pibiltacos brimming with juicy spiced pork to the barrio chicken withpiñoncream. You won't find betterchiles en nogadaoutside of Mexico City, here done with apricots, pecans, and pomegranate seeds in a velvety almond cream. Esparza's food is exactly what it says in street lingo on Barrio Queen's T-shirts — A TODA MADRE — "totally awesome."