Wow. What a great first visit.
I knew Bacanora downtown, would have several hours of wait time on a Saturday night (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, when you can hang out down the street at El Charro Hipster Bar with their great coffees and mescal selection), but I had an early morning.
So, I popped into downtown Mesa to try Espiritu. Park in the huge lot in back, and look for the narrow alley just east of Tacos Chiwas with the small neon Espiritu sign visible when you are right at the alley’s mouth.
What a great complement and alternative to Bacanora. It’s a different feel, but all the same great taste notes are there, and the same height to which they are elevating simple local ingredients prepared beautifully and with attention. At Espiritu, there is more room to stock the bar with a bigger range of great regional spirits that they can craft into masterpieces.
If you take Bacanora, which showcases the bar and cooking with fire right in front, and flipped the vibe to a very cool, narrow, dark bar with a great playlist, fun, eclectic decor, and amazing food coming out of the open kitchen at the back, that’s Espiritu.
They aren’t doing the meat and chicken Bacanora is..yet, but they had more even appetizers than Bacanora.
Amazing melon salad…a riff on the Bacanora cucumber salad, with similar accent notes from cheese, and citrus, but a change up for excitement.
Clams and house made chorizo….killer…I liked it even better than the grilled shrimp and chorizo with their amazing bean broth that was my Bacanora favorite.
At Espiritu, they’ve provided a similar delectable flavor profile, but on this day it’s made with garbanzo beans…again…similar phenomenal flavor profile, just different.
Incredible Ceviche Tower…amazing amount of crisp sweet fish and shellfish for the price.
And of course there is fresh, crunchy, yeasty bread for soaking up all the sauces from Proof next door.
The aguachile with shrimp with red or green sauce- incredible, and accompanied with great fried tortilla wedges.
Hey it’s a bar, so they grilled up one of the best burgers I’ve had in Phoenix. Beefy, carmelized and moist inside, served with beautifully fried potato rounds- crisp on the outside, fluffy inside.
Drinks are superb, even if the menu doesn’t yet list everything they can do. Just ask.
I requested a Bacanorita, and got one just like at Bacanora, and then a spicy Mezcal Margarita, which they made with a few subtly magic additions that made it unique and outstanding.
Good to see the launch crew from Bacanora mixed in with some great new staff, so as a consumer it sure seems they are actually firing on all cylinders, even if they will tell you they have a way to go until their final vision is realized.