January 2009

Fry Bread House (in Phoenix)

My search was on. I can say that I have a sack of pennies worth of great Mexican food restaurants in Phoenix that I love, but it can become repetitive when switching dining spots and eating the same Mexican food (since I usually order the same thing wherever I go). Don’t get me wrong – I love it every time – but if you’re not aware, I am always in search of different twists on things.

In my short time of getting to know some of my favorite foods, people, and cultural influences, I have found that when you travel around this country as I do, you can find so many different versions of how Mexican food is made. For starters, I have a bias towards Mexican food in AZ and I couldn’t put my finger on why this was the case.

I had been hearing great things about this new Mexican restaurant in downtown Phoenix that had unbelievable red and green chile. Being an admirer of both, I had to try it. The place was all it was cracked up to be – great food, service and atmosphere. But (you didn’t think a but was coming did you?) it still was a sister of all the other regular Mexican food spots. I was in search of the cousin!

I walked away wondering what made this so similar besides the fact that it was Mexican food. Then it hit me. It’s a dessert that we all love and crave after we’re done eating good Mexican food…at least I do.  SOPAPIAS! Yes, this was it, the Native American influence of many of the Mexican food restaurants that I love so much here in Phoenix.

So I sat down one day at the computer and with a touch of a key here, a stroke over there, a little more fumbling with the keys and I pushed enter. A few random posts came up about a native American restaurant in downtown Phoenix called Fry Bread House. I’m there man!

It was one of my top priorties for a few days to make it into Phoenix to try this place. Some interuptions came up when I had planned visits, but it worked out that my little sis had a basketball game in North Phoenix and it just so happened that Fry Bread House was on the way to her contest. I rounded up the fam and headed out a little early to make sure we had time to stop and try the grub.

As we came closer to where Google maps had pointed to the location of the house, I realized that the name of the restaurant is accurate. It really is a house (note to reader: food served out of an old house is always great). Anyway, we walked in the front door and walked up to the counter. We were greeted by a lady manning the cash register and soda fountain. I scanned the menu and knew what I was here for.

We ordered and looked for a spot to sit. The dining area looked like the old living room of the house and about 10 or so picnic tables were scattered throughout. I patiently sat like a little kid waiting for my treats to arrive, but I already had one sitting in front of me – a red cream soda (my favorites of all favorites of any soda and this is one of the few places in town that serve it). Instant fifty extra bonus stars for this place. A few minutes had passed as I fell into a deep daydream of pleasure over my red soda. Then, my name was called.

First up was the hominy stew with beef, and if anyone knows Mexican food, they know that this is a staple in many dishes. It came with a clear broth with onions and “native seasonings,” they say, with big chunks of beef and fat hominy. Now that’s a soup. It might be my new favorite soup of all-time or at least a close second to menudo. This soup alone was worth the trip here, so who cares about the main food I ordered?

As I began to think that my taste buds couldn’t handle anymore pleasure, a grand smell of flour, water, and lard all FRIED refocused my attention and reminded me of what I was here for. The fry bread with red chile on it. As it sat in front of me, I couldn’t hold back and had to dig in.

The bread was so soft and gooey as I tore into it, it simply melted in my mouth. The red chile, no mistaking here, is done the right way. I would say now ‘forget the tortilla bring me the fry bread.’

As I left this place and began to drive off with an exhalting smile, I couldn’t help but come to terms with the feeling that this might have been my best meal of the last year. It was exciting to realize this, but sobering at the same time to wonder if I had been wasting my time eating at some of my other favorite spots since I have been home.

Well, at least now I know where to go when I’m craving  (in my opinion) the best meal I have had in a while. In fact, it was so good, I forgot to take pictures so I’m going back again soon and will add them. Until then…

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