ARIZONA NEWS

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.

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