Phoenix’s iconic Barrio Café restaurant closing after 22 years, as legendary chef turns page

Mar 22, 2024, 4:35 AM

Split panel image of the sign at Barrio Cafe in Phoenix on the left and chef Silvana Salcido Esparz...

Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza is closing Barrio Café, her iconic Phoenix restaurant, at the end of May 2024. (Facebook Photos/Barrio Cafe by chef Silvana Salcido Esparza)

(Facebook Photos/Barrio Cafe by chef Silvana Salcido Esparza)

PHOENIX – Legendary Phoenix chef Silvana Salcido Esparza announced that she will close her iconic Barrio Café restaurant after 22 years.

Esparza has been serving up some of the Arizona’s most acclaimed Mexican food at 2814 N. 16th St., just south of Thomas Road, since 2002.

“I did get a little old and I am very sick. And it’s true without me there is no Barrio, so Barrio has to close. But we’re closing on a high note. Like Jordan, man, I’m closing on my terms,” Esparza, who suffers from sarcoidosis, said in a video posted to Instagram on Wednesday.

When is Phoenix Mexican restaurant Barrio Café closing for good?

Barrio Café will serve its last meals May 31. The restaurant operates from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays and is closed Mondays. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis, with no reservations.

In addition to Barrio Café, Esparza ran two related Phoenix dining establishments for a time. Barrio Cafe Grand Reserva closed for good during the COVID-19 pandemic 2020, and Barrio Urbano ceased operations in 2017.

She also was part of the group that started the Valley’s Barrio Queen franchise, but the partnership ended about a decade ago.

Barrio Café was always Esparza’s crowning dining achievement. The restaurant gained national prominence through Esparza’s spin on regional Mexican cuisine, including cochinita pibil, chiles en nogada and tlayudas.

What will acclaimed chef Silvana Salcido Esparza do next?

Esparza is a nine-time James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist, most recently in 2023, when she was up for national outstanding chef honors. But Esparza said she is more than ready to move on to the next chapter of her life.

Esparza, who has an autographical cookbook coming out this year, with presales starting May 5, said she will concentrate on her work as a writer after Barrio Café closes.

“I’m a writer now, you know. I don’t want to run a restaurant. I don’t have to run a restaurant. I don’t want to stress out about the air conditioner going out in July and now I’ve got to come up with money for that,” she said in the video.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Carlos Rivas is among the performers for this year's Scottsdale Jazz Festival. (Scottsdale Jazz Fes...

Damon Allred

Sounds of New Orleans hit Old Town for Scottsdale Jazz Festival

The jazz festival billed as "Arizona's Most Beautiful Jazz Event" is coming to the Scottsdale Civic Center in Old Town this week.

1 hour ago

Olivia Gerits (Chandler Police Department)...

Missing 13-year-old Chandler girl found safe, 21-year-old man detained

A 13-year-old girl who was missing for more than a week was found safe and reunited with her family on Sunday afternoon.

3 hours ago

woman holds money and types into computer...

Weekend wrap-up: Here are the biggest Phoenix news stories from April 19-21

From freeway construction to street gang indictments, here are the biggest Valley news stories from over the weekend.

3 hours ago

University of Arizona President Robert Robbins is seen walking on the Tucson campus....

Associated Press

Robbins: Fiscal year 2025 UArizona budget deficit may be reduced by $110M

Outgoing University of Arizona president Robbins has announced “encouraging news” about the college’s finances.

5 hours ago

Two-time double lung transplant recipient, Teri Raymond, along with Dr. Ross Bremner hiking Camelba...

Two-time double lung transplant recipient hikes for St. Joseph’s Norton Thoracic Institute

A two-time double lung transplant recipient, her son and surgeons hiked Camelback Mountain to raise funds to support lung transplants.

7 hours ago

(Facebook Photo/Mesa Police Department, File)...

Damon Allred

Police investigating overnight homicide shooting in Mesa

Police are investigating an overnight incident in which they found a male individual unresponsive in Mesa, authorities confirmed.

9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Phoenix’s iconic Barrio Café restaurant closing after 22 years, as legendary chef turns page