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Sep 24, 2011 01:58 PM

Barrio Cafe, La Condesa, The Mission, Somewhere else?

Heading to Phoenix next week. Looking for some good yet upscale-ish Mexican food (doing Carolina's on another day) and the top three seem like good picks. Has anyone been to all three that can make a recommendation - or, is there somewhere I'm missing?

I prefer pork, seafood, chicken over beef if that factors into the opinion.


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  1. Barrio and La Condesa have both been mixed bags for me, with the average quality being higher at Barrio. Barrio's kitchen is capable of hitting the highest of highs, but on occasion, they've disappointed me with flat-tasting or carelessly prepared food.

    The salsa bar at La Condesa is impressive, but out of the four kinds of tacos I've tried there, three have been kind of "eh". Even though both places serve lunch and dinner, IMO, Barrio has more of a dinner place vibe, while La Condesa feels more like a place to get lunch.

    I've generally had better luck at Los Sombreros in south Scottsdale, but as it has been quite a while since I've been in, my information could be out of date.

    Gallo Blanco is another place that I would rank ahead of La Condesa. A couple of my non-beef favorites there are the pollo asado and the chilaquiles (with or without chicken). Almost every time I eat there with a group, we start the meal with their elote (sprinkled with smoked paprika and ground cotija cheese) and the guac.

    Sadly, I've yet to eat at The Mission, so I can't personally vouch for the overall quality of the food there. I was, however, favorably impressed with the botanas they provided at an event I attended about a year ago.

    Barrio Cafe
    2814 N 16th St, Phoenix, AZ 85006

    Los Sombreros Cafe & Cantina
    2534 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85257

    The Mission
    3815 North Brown Avenue, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

    Gallo Blanco Cafe
    401 W Clarendon Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85013

    La Condesa Gourmet Taco Shop
    1919 N 16th St, Phoenix, AZ 85006

    1. I too have not been to the Mission (have mostly heard good things about Mission) but I am a regular at Condesa and Carolina's and infrequently at Barrio.

      I love Condesa for their tacos but am less impressed with everything else. I do not consider it "upscale-ish" Barrio and Los Sombreros are more "upscale-ish". Having read and thoroughly enjoyed your reviews of Paris I suggest Barrio or Sombreros depending on whether you are staying in Phoenix or Scottsdale.

      I am home alone next week if you want to get together I would enjoy meeting you any day but Wednesday.


      2 Replies
      1. re: jock

        Cornbread Souffle, Goat Tacos, and Duck - that is a damned fine looking menu at Sombreros.

        1. Second for Gallo Blanco. I believe Los Sombreros used to be owned by Jeff Smestad. He now owns Elote in Sedona, which is fantastic. It is worth a day trip (about 2 hrs from Phoenix).

          Gallo Blanco Cafe
          401 W Clarendon Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85013

          1. The Mission is excellent. I would characterize it as Latin, more than just Mexican, as there are nice Peruvian and other Latin American influences. I am NOT a fan of Barrio Cafe, just don't get that place. The food is consistently poorly executed. Never been to La Condesa.

            4 Replies
            1. re: danieli10

              Thanks for the feedback - its going to end up being a matter of timing more than anything else. Barrio has lunch hours while the others don't. Mission has lunch hours, but the menu appears substantially dumbed down then.


              1. re: uhockey

                To clear up any possible confusion I'll note that of the places mentioned so far, Los Sombreros is the only one with no lunch service.

                Gallo Blanco's menu is the same from lunch until close (with breakfast items offered all day), and as far as I know, La Condesa offers its entire menu from 11am to 9pm.

                Gallo Blanco Cafe
                401 W Clarendon Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85013

                1. re: uhockey

                  The Mission's menu is a bit more limited at lunch, but both the almejas al vapor and brisket torta are available - hard to go wrong with those two dishes.

                  1. re: azhotdish

                    going to Mission with a local hound Saturday evening.
                    Probably do Barrio or La Condesa for a lunch Friday.

                    Good times!


              2. Since you're looking for upscale, La Condesa is out. It's "upscale" for a taqueria, but not really upscale in a general sense. That said, I love their tacos and they have fantastic salsas and horchata. If it were me, I'd go here instead of Carolina's (others will likely disagree). If you go, give the tinga, mole, and conchinita tacos a try.

                I love The Mission and Barrio, and would have a really tough time deciding between the two. Have only had great experiences at both. It might come down to location (will you be closer to either one?) or vibe. If I were taking an out-of-town guest to one of the two, I would probably choose Barrio if they're really into Mexican.

                1 Reply
                1. re: crsin

                  Probably going to end up at both Mission and Barrio as it turns out!

                  You folks here in Phoenix are pretty awesome, by the way - met 5 locals yesterday and everyone has been great.