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Downtown Phoenix is home to a host of stellar bars and restaurants (here’s proof), but for years we’ve been missing one big thing: Mexican food.
Thanks to the hard work of some fellow downtowners, this dining drought is now over.
Chico Malo (“bad boy” in Spanish) recently opened its doors at CityScape Phoenix. Taking the place of The Corner, which closed last July, Chico Malo is the first restaurant concept by newly-formed Culture Shock Hospitality, which is headed up by husband and wife team Teddy and Katie Myers who have lived downtown since 2008.
With years of experience in the restaurant industry, the couple has helped to open places like The Yard at Culinary Dropout in Tempe. Katie most recently managed Copper Blues Rock Pub & Kitchen, and Teddy even helped open the Arrogant Butcher at CityScape.
“We always believed then that (downtown) would eventually turn into something cool,” Teddy said. “There’s nowhere else we want to be.”
Chico Malo brings a unique and fresh take on Mexican and Latin-inspired cuisine to Downtown Phoenix. Check them out May 6 at the Urban Wine & Jazz Walk — and get there early because the first 300 people will receive a commemorative wine glass.
From kegging their own margarita mix to the unique selection of Mexican-style beers, Chico Malo’s beverage program will lift your spirits. Juices are freshly squeezed behind the bar. Cocktails are ice cold, eye catching and the taste is on par with any of the best bars in town. Beers are Mexican imports or craft beers in a Mexican style, and the only sodas they serve are Mexican Coke and Sprite — yeah, you know the glass bottles.
If you’re looking for a beer on tap, we recommend trying the Epic Brewing Co. (Denver) Los Locos. It’s a refreshing lager infused with lime and salt. For cocktails, we enjoyed the Basketmaker with sotol, watermelon, sea salt and Tajín. Oh, and the skull? It’s the ever-changing Calavera cocktail and can be shared with friends. Booze prices start at $6.
From the tortilla to the toppings, Chico Malo’s tacos are made from scratch. They’ve even got got a tortilleria right in the middle of the restaurant. In our experience, some house-made tortillas can be a little too thick and dry, but these were perfectly thin and soft. For tacos, we tried the Al Pastor which has an addictive fermented pineapple on top.
We also enjoyed the Baja Fish taco with a hefty chunk of lightly battered Halibut with a pomegranate jicama relish and orange cumin gel. Yes, gel. (It looks odd, but trust us, it’s good and it doesn’t make your taco soggy.) The lunch and dinner menu also have starters, salads and at dinner they have entrees (we heard the Rib Eye is amazing). Food prices start at $3 for chips and salsa.
When it comes to dining, atmosphere can be just as important to me as the food. (Disclaimer: I’m a self-confessed interior design nerd.) But, really, just look at this space. What I love about Chico Malo is that every design element was thoughtfully chosen to reflect the restaurant’s mythical namesake — Chico Malo — a globetrotting playboy who inherited his affluent father’s restaurant and made it his own.
The incredible JB Snyder (who also designed the cover of our new directory) and Tato Caraveo mural on the south wall was painted directly over books in what would have been the affluent father’s library. The bad boy had no need for books, so he made it his own by creating a mural. It’s genius. Overall, the space combines multiple contrasting textures, colors, patterns and finishes that call combine to create a stunning and comfortable atmosphere.
Chico Malo is open Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Sunday 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. It is located at 50 W. Jefferson Street.