Barrio Queen principal owner Linda Nash admits she was a little nervous to open the new Glendale location in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the decisive political landscape.
So far, so good, though, she reports.
“We’re getting a warm welcome and the business is doing the exact numbers as our other restaurants,” says Nash, who owns it with her husband/ASU graduate, Steve Rosenfield.
Glendale was a logical next move for Barrio Queen. Nash says the team did a social media blast and reached out to West Valley communities to gauge interest.
“We got overwhelming responses from Avondale and Glendale,” she says. “The Glendale City Council and the townspeople voted. We took that feedback first, looked at the demo and the timing and figured out what felt right.”
Each of the Barrio Queen locations are slightly different, according to Nash. Other stores are in Desert Ridge, Old Town Scottsdale, Downtown Gilbert, Queen Creek and Tempe Marketplace. For Glendale, crews reconstructed a former On the Border store.
One thing remains the same — the menu. The signature dish of Mexico, chiles en Nogada ($25) is the restaurant’s most popular dish. It’s a roasted poblano pepper filled with chicken, apples, pears, dried apricots, golden raisins, walnuts, onions and garlic. Covered in a delicate almond cream sauce, the pepper is finished with the colors of the Mexican flag: fresh cilantro, queso fresco, almond slices and pomegranate seeds.
A beef short rib birria, the Azteca burrito comes in a close second. The beef, covered with homemade green tomatillo and red sauces, is delicately slow cooked and served with Mexican-style rice ($16).
“It’s an amazing burrito,” she says. “It has short rib meat inside of it and there is red and green sauce and pomegranates to make the color of the Mexican flag.”
As far as drinks go, Death’s Door is a staple at Barrio Queen. Stamped on the menu with a warning label, Death’s Door is habanero, jalapeno and chile de arbol-infused tequila, Ancho Reyes, Azuñia Organic Agave Syrup and fresh lime juice ($14).
Nash says she loves the Barrio Queen concept and the food, as well as various cultures and her staff, whom she considers “family.”
“We collect family recipes and talk to our staff and families” to create dishes, she says. “We visit various regions of Mexico to get educated and bring back the food and do taste tests.”
Nash shares a testament to the Barrio Queen experience.
“You never see anybody on the cellphone, unless they’re taking a picture of the food,” she says. “They socialize and forget about work and COVID. With COVID, we made sure we didn’t tape off tables and hand them a bar code.
“We adjusted to COVID standards, but we have pretty high standards. I’d been in the medical industry for 30 years so we’re strict on the cleaning processes. I already learned the COVID cleaning procedures prior to it hitting.”
Nash and Rosenfield appreciate the doctors, nurses and first responders for their pandemic work.
“We send food their way,” she says. “We feed some of the hospitals when COVID hit. We believe in working for good karma and giving back. We’ve been blessed and we want to share it with others.”
7640 W. Bell Road, Glendale
For information about other locations, visit the website.