What to know about Bacanora, downtown Phoenix's new Mexican … – The Arizona Republic

A new Mexican restaurant has opened on Grand Avenue from a trio of celebrated Phoenix chefs.
Called Bacanora, the restaurant comes from chef Rene Andrade, formerly of Ghost Ranch in Tempe, and business partners Armando Hernandez and Nadia Holguin, who run beloved taco shop Tacos Chiwas in Phoenix and Mesa. 
The restaurant is located in the historic building that previously housed chef Silvana Salcido Esparza’s Barrio Cafe Gran Reserva.
Social media buzzed about the new restaurant over the weekend, with stories showing a crowd of customers waiting for pollo asado and caramelos lined up outside the corner restaurant among the bright murals and colorful tree decorations of Grand Avenue.
Named after the agave spirit bacanora, the restaurant serves Sonoran food like what Andrade grew up eating and cooking, he says.
The restaurant opened with a limited menu for takeout only. But there are plans for much more in the works, Andrade says. Within the next three to four weeks he plans to open for dine-in service. Small tables will be placed out front for outdoor dining and a cocktail menu, filled with drinks celebrating Bacanora, is on the way.
“We are just trying not to rush things,” Andrade says. “But I am excited and everything that I do I try to make it as exciting as I can.”
Bacanora is an agave spirit made in Sonora, Mexico. Andrade grew up around it living in Nogales and it brings happy memories, he says. It was a crucial component to birthdays, funerals, family gatherings and parties. Whenever there was an event, the notion was “bring the bacanora,” Andrade says. 
“To me, bacanora is celebration,” he says. Hence the name of the restaurant.
Andrade opened with a small menu of four items: pollo asado, caramelos, burritos and aguacate tostadas.
The dish he hopes to become known for is pollo asado, made with chickens from Two Wash Ranch in New River, Arizona. The dish is sold by the half or whole bird.
Andrade is also excited about the tortillas. Business partners and owners of Tacos Chiwas, Armando Hernandez and Nadia Holguin are providing the tortillas for Bacanora. 
Andrade plans to expand the menu as he goes, drawing inspiration from Nogales, Baviácora and around the Sonoran region.
“That’s what this restaurant is all about,” he says. “If you come to eat at my house, this is what you’re going to eat. This is the food I’ve cooked my whole life and I happened to open a restaurant just to get other people to enjoy it as well.”
Bacanora occupies the building that previously housed chef Silvana Salcido Esparza’s acclaimed restaurant Barrio Cafe Gran Reserva.
In the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Salcido Esparza used the restaurant to cook food for those in need. But in April, the award-winning restaurant closed permanently. 
The building is a unique, triangular space with large glass windows wrapping around a rounded front entrance. Historically, it housed the Bragg’s Pie Factory and is an established point of interest along the Grand Avenue corridor. 
Andrade has always admired the building, he says, and feels lucky to now call it home.
“I said to Silvana a long time ago as a joke, ‘hey, if you ever leave that spot, I want it,’” he says. “I always loved that spot, I loved her restaurant.”
After Salcido Esparza’s restaurant closed, she helped Andrade secure the location and realize his dream, he says.
“It’s a Sonoran restaurant, very bistro-style where you come and enjoy,” he says. “We are going to try to our best to make everybody happy.”
Andrade says he hopes to expand hours and days the restaurant will be open, check Bacanora’s Instagram account for the most up to date information. 
Details: 1301 Grand Avenue, Unit 1. Phoenix. 602-612-4018. 
The previous tenant:How Barrio Cafe chef Silvana Salcido Esparza redefined Mexican food in Phoenix — and built a dynasty
Reach the reporter at tirion.morris@arizonarepublic.com. Follow her on Twitter at @tirionmorris, on Facebook at Tirion Rose and on Instagram at tirionrose
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