Menudo Rojo: Roland’s Cafe Market Bar, Phoenix
I shared with you in this article that I have been on a quest to find the best Mexican cuisine in Scottsdale and Phoenix.
While Carol doesn’t necessarily share my passionate crusade (she’s not willing to try unusual things), she is a good sport and comes along to enjoy the more pedestrian items on the menus.
Carolina’s had the vibe of a very busy diner, where Rito’s was a take-out only joint with a long stream of cars parked on the street in front of the restaurant. I’d recommend both and will absolutely visit both again.
For the fourth stop on our journey to find the best Mexican cuisine in Scottsdale and Phoenix, we made a stop at Roland’s Cafe Market Bar in Phoenix.
Roland’s is unusual as the restaurant is a mashup of a James Beard Award-Winning pizzamaker (Chris Bianco) and Nadia Holguin and Armando Hernandez whose restaurant Tacos Chiwas received national acclaim from Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.
We made our visit to Roland’s after picking up a friend at the airport who was coming in to spend the 4th of July with us. Roland’s is a short skip from the airport, and we arrived in time to enjoy their weekend brunch menu.
When I saw Menudo on the menu, I immediately ordered it as I have always wanted to give it a try.
Here’s this from Wikipedia about Menudo:
Menudo, or pancita ([little] gut or [little] stomach, from Spanish: Panza; “Gut/Stomach”) is a traditional Mexican soup, made with beef stomach (tripe) in broth with a red chili pepper base. Hominy, lime, onions, and oregano are used to season the broth. Menudo is traditionally a family food prepared by the entire family and often serves as an occasion for social interactions such as after wedding receptions where the families of the groom and bride go to either family’s house to enjoy a bowl of menudo before and after the ceremony.
Menudo is time intensive to prepare, as the tripe takes hours to prepare. It includes many ingredients and side dishes (such as salsa) and is often prepared communally and eaten at a feast. Documents from the Works Progress Administration indicate that in the 1930s, among migrant workers in Arizona, menudo parties were held regularly to celebrate births, Christmas, and other occasions.
In the United States, since the mid-20th century, prepared menudo has been common in food stores and restaurants in cosmopolitan areas and in other areas with a significant Mexican population. Restaurants often feature it as a special on Saturday and Sunday, and the folklore belief that menudo will alleviate some of the symptoms of a hangover is widely held.
Now, neither Carol nor our friend Karen would try the Menudo (pictured at the top), but let me just say, “it was out of this world”. The broth was beyond delish and I was quick to learn why I had two pieces of toast on my plate. YUM. YUM. YUM. I suppose some might find the rubbery texture of the tripe offputting, but I enjoyed the dish immensely and will definitely be back for more.
Tip: bring one of those plastic flossers with you. You’re going to need it after this dish.
Carol ordered the Mortadella Quesadilla. This is definitely an homage to Chris Bianco. However, to be completely honest, I found it to be a bit on the bland side.
Our friend Karen ordered the Chorizo Burrito. She raved about it so much that Carol and I have been back to Roland’s for a second visit and I ordered this dish. YUM, it was. YUM!
Well, there you have it. We’ve visited and enjoyed four different Mexican restaurants offering authentic Mexican cuisine.
But, have we found the best Mexican cuisine in all of Scottsdale and Phoenix?
I don’t know. Do you have an opinion? Share it with us in the comments section below.
You know, now that I think about it. I need to ask our friend Chef Mel Macinas. DOH. Why didn’t I think of that earlier?
OK. That’s it for now. It’s Saturday morning and I’m thinking that we might go explore the tacos at Tacos Chiwas. 🙂
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