If you are like us, then you probably take food very seriously. One of our favorite types of cuisine is Mexican (for which we have a love affair), and we are passionate about eating it. With the recent Twitter buzz of Verde’s grand opening, we knew our growling bellies had to make an appearance. If you are looking to scratch a Mexican food itch, then Verde, your Mexican meal ticket, is one place we would recommend. Just take our satisfied bellies word for it! The food is fresh, the staff is friendly, and the atmosphere is no-frills, no-nonsense just good food fast. Verde proves that you don’t have to cross the Mexican border to enjoy authentic Mexican fare (no American influence here!).
This casual, hip, green, easy-going, neighborhood, and family-friendly Mexican eatery are located in a renovated 1930′s building in downtown Phoenix, AZ (the mecca for some of the best dining). Upon arriving at the restaurant, we were immediately hypnotized by the colorful, edgy graffiti mural on the building’s side; no, this was not the work of vandals. But a commissioned work of art, artfully crafted using spray paint and the building as the bare canvas. Local graffiti artist Dose was given permission to paint the town, or in this case, the side of the restaurant. How cool! We managed to delay our lunch for a few minutes (that was stretching it!) to steal a photo opt of the mural before heading inside for a bite to eat.
Verde’s barebone, modern, raw, industrial, exposed brick, polished concrete floor, colorful and eco-conscious decor make this a trendy hangout to get we dine on. What made this quite a relaxing and casual dining experience was the ability to order-at-the-counter and find our own seats. The tasty aroma coming from the kitchen was intoxicating and got us very excited. We were kindly greeted by owners, chefs, and restaurateurs Joseph Aguayo and Matt Avilla, who went over the menu with us. They truly made us feel right at home, making sure our dining experience was a warm, inviting, and memorable one.
The phrase “keep it simple stupid” rings true at Verde, with a menu pared down and back to the basics. Their straightforward, uncomplicated, simple, and inexpensive menu was filled with some chef signature dishes that anyone would enjoy. They recommended we try their generous plate of famous rotisserie Oregano Lime Chicken and braised Green Chili Pork, which we hungrily agreed to share. Both dishes were served with Mexican staples of rice, beans, house salsa, and homemade warm flour tortillas.
Our 1/2 chicken slow-roasted to perfection was so flavorful (a perfect balance of seasonings), savory, juicy, and tender that it fell off the bone. They have a top-of-the-line rotisserie for just this special occasion. Pssst…we heard they will be selling their whole rotisseries to go soon, Sam’s Club will have some competition. While the Mexican style was shredded, braised pork was fork tender with a hint of spice from the green chilies. The pork melted in our mouths and made our palettes very happy. Just from the look and taste of it, you can tell a lot of love and patience went into braising the pork. If you love Carnitas, then you will love this dish!
We then built our own taco with homemade salsa verde (Mexican green salsa made with roasted tomatillos, chile peppers, lime juice, cilantro, and onion) sop up the meat juices with the stack of warm, fresh tortillas provided. Tacolicious! We tasted the soul of Mexico in every delicious bite. The meal was not complete without sipping down a refreshing ice-cold glass of lemonade or, as they say in Spanish, “lemonade.” Next time we will make sure to order a large helping of some fresh guacamole and corn tortilla chips to round out the meal. With a menu, this good, Verde is sure to be a dining favorite among the hungry downtown crowd.
What makes this standout hip Mexican joint a spork up above the rest is using organic and locally sourced ingredients. Whenever possible, they make everything in-house, including their yummy flour tortillas rolled out by hand. While we waited for our order, we took a peek inside their enclosed made-to-order tortilla prep room, complete with a large wood-burning comal (flat metal top) using Arizona sourced pecan wood. Both interior patrons and street-side pedestrians can watch tortilla’s being freshly made right before our eyes through a glass window, reminiscent of watching a machine roll Krispy Kreme doughnuts on a conveyor belt. We noticed a few passerbyers on the street stop, drool, and stare hungrily eyed as the tortillas beckoned them to come on in and eat (some could not resist). If the delicious aroma does not entice your taste buds, then the view will.
We are all about eating locally and supporting local restaurants doing good. One of the biggest things we can do to support and encourage responsibly raised food & sustainability is to vote with our wallet. Now you can eat well at a restaurant where “sustainable,” “local,” and “organic” are mainstays and pig out to your earth-loving heart’s content. We love Verde because they are firm believers in “waste not, want not” and only make a certain amount of food each day. The good news is they do not waste, but the bad news is that once a dish is sold out, it’s sold out. So, we recommend getting there early to beat the breakfast, lunch, and dinner crowd.
Not only is Verde all about eating green, but it is all about living green. This is why it is no surprise that Verde means “green” in Spanish; they are truly living up to their name by setting a standard for other aspiring earth-friendly restaurants. They are looking beyond the menu for ways to ease their impact on the planet. We toured the restaurant and admired their creative decoupage wallpaper from the recycled Arizona Republic Food & Drink newspaper clippings while we waited for orders. This was a playful eco way to pay homage to Arizona’s love of food and the owner’s passion.
Green design is a huge part of Verde a dining must; they use low maintenance, durable, locally reclaimed, sustainable materials and finishes. They are even going the extra eco mile by cooking with energy-efficient appliances, recycling, and dishing out on biodegradable plates & utensils to reduce landfill waste. Not to mention taking a cue from the building’s raw charm instead of building from scratch. We took a seat at one of their recycled wood tables as our food was paraded to us in a procession alongside other diners’ dishes. You couldn’t help but drool!
We will definitely be adding Verde to our dining roster and will need to stop in for breakfast soon, so should you! Hey, we are all about sharing Arizona’s best-kept secrets and hidden holes in the walls. So don’t be stingy. Bring some of your family and friends to dine at this eco-hip eatery. We guarantee you will have no complainers at the table, just smiling bellies yearning for “seconds, please!”
Verde – “Fine Food Fast”
825 N. 1st St
Phoenix, AZ 85004
- So, have you eaten at Verde? If so, what did you order? What is your favorite Mexican dish? – Leave a comment below and let us know.
- Please leave a comment on this post.
- Tell your friends – click the Share buttons below.
If you do stop into Verde, tell them Bloggin’ Good Food sent you. Remember, life is too short to eat bad food. Now we are off on another foodie adventure, so taste buds, stay tuned!
Update: Sadly, Verde has closed its doors. We sure hope they open up in another location.