Folks discuss in regards to the rise of downtown Phoenix. Rightfully, folks get juiced in regards to the development of its meals scene. What number of gushing articles have you ever learn in regards to the glow-up of Roosevelt Row by now, 17? This development has been nice for a lot of causes. In my thoughts, although, we have to begin speaking about downtown Mesa.
Specifically, the transient stretch of Major Road from Date to Hibbert has leveled up its food and drinks mightily within the final three or so years. In some way, throughout the final 12 months, the expansion has appeared even steeper. Pound-for-pound, pint-for-pint, taco-for-taco, downtown Mesa can now dangle with nearly anyplace within the Valley.
The anchors in its meals lineup are spectacular: Price Takeaway, Myke’s Pizza, Republica Empanada, Tacos Chiwas. Ditto its drink, led by Cider Corps, Chupacabra Faucet Room, and 12 West Brewing Co. And the movement of latest blood simply retains on coming, signaled by spiffy indicators and development noise. Proof Bread is slated to open quickly. In July, downtown Mesa welcomed Que Chevere, one in every of my favourite openings of this 12 months.
Que Chevere is the form of new spot more and more setting downtown Mesa aside: mom-and-pop, no pretension, good vibes, a number of character, nice meals.
Pleasantly bereft of decor and dishes that exist for Instagram, with out something even remotely resembling a PR blitz, Que Chevere opened throughout the terrifying Arizona upswing of the COVID-19 pandemic — a tiny black eating room spilling tables onto a sidewalk patio that may get vigorous. Its house owners are Orvid Cutler and Maria Fernanda, a husband-and-wife-team. Fernanda is from Venezuela. So is her restaurant’s meals.
The title “Que Chevere” is likely to be acquainted. It’s painted on the meals truck Cutler and Fernanda have run 4 years, usually parking at Phoenix’s Uptown Farmers Market. On the brick-and-mortar in Mesa, arepas are the star. Empanadas play a supporting position. It is a menu, although, the place the deeper cuts can sustain.
Let’s begin with my favourite factor at Que Chevere: the patacon. When this sandwich arrives, chances are you’ll query your skill to complete. It’s the scale of a brick. It’s a heat, completely happy mess, simply spilling shredded beef and hen. The cheese? Melted cheddar. The “bread” on this sandwich? Not bread. In the way in which of a traditional patacon, the sandwich is constructed on two paddles of congealed plantain slices; every paddle consists of many plantain slices fried, tortilla-pressed right into a tough disc, then completed on the flattop.
The plantains are crisp and salty, a pleasant foil to the filling of slow-cooked meat, mellowly spiced with Serrano peppers and tender. I erased my patacon from the universe in about 4 minutes.
The chachapa — a thick, corn pancake folded like an omelet and full of queso mano — possesses a nuanced sweetness and showcases corn in uncommon, lovely gentle. For extra of a plate-style meal, look to pabellon criollo, a union of garlicky black beans, easy white rice, and extra of that tender, six-hour-cooked, pepper-warmed shredded beef.
Que Chevere’s patacon, a brick-like sandwich constructed on plantain slices.
Jackie Mercandetti Photograph
The pabellon criollo additionally comes with a pale puffy white puck, kissed brown by the griddle: an arepa. On the few barstools, at indoor tables, and among the many exterior bunchers pulling down cuba libre cocktails earlier than midday on Sundays, arepas dominate.
In some ways, the arepa is to Venezuela because the tortilla is to Mexico. Venezuela’s model is understood to be taller and extra three-dimensional than neighboring Colombia’s, one other arepa-fueled nation, although each qualify as corn-based flatbreads. Cutler and Fernanda form theirs from a dough of Venezuelan cornmeal, dough pucks griddled on each side.
Some arepas are served identical to that, as sides. Others are sliced open and stuffed, served as mains.
An arepa full of black beans and queso blanco, a Venezuelan cheese, facilities the easy goodness of admirably cooked beans. One other arepa, this one full of long-stewed shredded hen that comes chilly, like a hen salad, is barely bland, even with its boosts of cilantro and avocado. The arepas that embrace the cow are the heaviest hitters, together with one that includes — shock! — that wealthy shredded beef. One other combines beef and different components of the pabellon criollo plate. When these arepas are newborns and scorching and able to go, they’re stellar.
At Que Chevere, the empanadas are sturdy. For a meals that’s principally fried dough, they’re surprisingly gentle and supple. Get them as a part of a combined starter with tequenos, spiral, stretchy Venezuelan cheese sticks rolled by hand each morning — the most well-liked merchandise on the menu.
In some ways, Que Chevere is a restaurant constructed for our bizarre new eating age, although it doubtless would have succeeded earlier than. It has a small scattering of tables and might do some dine-in. On prime of this, the meals takes out properly and comes out of the kitchen comparatively quick. We’re gone the time a restaurant wants 15-ingredient dishes and tricked-out eating rooms to be “good.” Particularly in our new period, leaner may show higher.
Standing on the bar, ready for a takeout order, it’s straightforward to see what a spot like Que Chevere provides to downtown Mesa. It’s simpler when soccer is enjoying on the TV, a number of tables are buzzing, and also you’ve acquired your hand round a chilly Guarapita (“Venezuelan jungle juice,” Cutler says) recent with ardour fruit and cherry.
“I really like downtown Mesa,” Cutler says. “I actually really feel prefer it has a number of potential. The group right here is superb. I couldn’t think about being anyplace else proper now.”
Like Cutler, you’ll be able to really feel the vitality of the place rising, virtually merging into the way of thinking that comes on as, elbows on the bar, you slurp down a tropical drink. It feels such as you may as properly be toasting a brand new period.
142 West Major Road, Mesa
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to eight p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to six p.m. Sunday, closed Monday.
Cane Mechada Arepa $10
Cachapa with Queso Mano $10
Starter Sampler $14
Sliced Candy Plantains $4
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