Phoenix: foodie destination?

- When the name "Phoenix" is mentioned, many people may know it is a city in Arizona, renowned for its hot summers, but now may be the time to add the descriptor "foodie destination" to Phoenix.

According to a list by gogobot.com, Phoenix was named a top ten worldwide foodie destination, joining cities like New Orleans, Vancouver, and Montreal.

Some local restaurant owners and critics say the honor may have come too soon for Phoenix.

"I know you're going to be shocked, but some things on the Internet are not correct, and this is one of them," said retired food critic Howard Seftel. He said while Phoenix has made huge strides over the years, in terms of food options, the city still has a ways to go to make it to the top 10.

"It's way off base to suggest that Phoenix is a top 10 American Foodie City," said Seftel. "That said, we have restaurants in this town, and I'm not exaggerating here, that could compete with restaurants in Paris, London, New York, and San Francisco."

Some restaurant owners agree Phoenix has a lot to offer on the culinary front.

"As far as Mexican food is concerned, I think we're one of the top cities in the country, and we're doing food way before LA was. They're just catching up," said Silvana Salcido Esparza, owner of the Barrio Cafe. When she opened Barrio Cafe in 2002, she started getting national attention.

"When people come to Phoenix, they say Mexican food," said Esparza. "They really do. They want what's local. When I go to Boston, I want some Chowder, right?"

Some restaurant owners, like Kevin Lentz, who owns the French Grocery, said Phoenixd has a culinary scene that is more exciting than a decade ago.

"There's so much more to do," said Lentz. "More to eat. A Lot going on."

Some restaurant owners, like Esparza, say even if Phoenix is not a foodie destination, there is still a lot going for it.

"We're not there yet, but we've got everything, and I mean everything, to be there and beyond," said Esparza.


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