Burros, Beer, and Beats at Cocina 10 in Downtown's Crescent Ballroom

Categories: First Taste

Get this: al pastor pork burrito.
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions. Share a few photos, some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

Kick back, eat, and listen to the music.
Restaurant: Cocina 10 (in Crescent Ballroom)
Location: 308 North 2nd Avenue
Open For: About a month.
Eats: Mexican
Price Point: $5-$10

Thanks to Crescent Ballroom, the mid-sized music venue owned by local promoter Charlie Levy and his company Stateside Presents, who renovated the 1917-era building formerly occupied by Bentley's Nightclub before opening in October, downtown's live music scene is (finally) showing signs of life.

And if you're hungry, it's got some great grub, too, courtesy of Chris Bianco and Doug Robson of Gallo Blanco, the Mexico City-style restaurant inside the Clarendon Hotel.

Hamburgesa Norteña
Called Cocina 10 (Cocina being Spanish for kitchen and the number 10 a reference to Interstate 10), the restaurant component of the Crescent features a small but tight menu of Mexican street food by Bianco and Robson, as well as a tidy list of microbrews, wines, and cocktails.

For munchies, try the crunchy chips and salsa or order up some crush-worthy nachos with beans, guacamole, sour cream, two kinds of cheese, and your choice or beef or pork.

If it's more filling fare you're after, there are burritos and a hamburger. I found my Hamburgesa Norteña, a third-pound patty with sharp cheddar, tasty caramelized onions, and roasted Anaheim and poblano peppers to be somewhat satisfying, but the best flavors were lost between a too-thick, too-dense bun. Better bets (and the true stars of this show) are the burritos. My al pastor (marinated pork) burrito was a two-handed meat beast stuffed with tender, slow-roasted pork shoulder in a sweet and smoky marinade of pineapple and achiote and wrapped in a warm, soft tortilla. Along with chips and a bright tomatillo salsa, it was a meal I'd come back for -- that is, after I try the beef barbacoa.

Cue music!
Reminiscent of an urban loft, the cool, cozy atmosphere is a mix of dark wood, exposed rafters, wrought iron furnishings, and dim lighting with sliding glass doors leading to a outdoor patio filled with candle-topped tall tables. The lounge is separated from the Crescent's main room, where the music happens.

Perfect for a pre- or post-concert noshing or, hell, just a cool downtown spot to eat and knock back a beer, kudos to Crescent Ballroom for making its restaurant, Cocina 10, a key aspect of the experience and not just an afterthought.

What say you, music munchers? Have you eaten at Cocina 10 in Crescent Ballroom? What did you think?

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Location Info

Crescent Ballroom

308 N. 2nd Ave., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Music

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Suzanne Schendel Kirk
Suzanne Schendel Kirk

The pork burrito was very very good. But what this article fails to mention is how good their mixed drinks are. They have an eclectic selection of original mixed drinks that are awesome! I had the Rest Stop which had ginger liquor and vodka and fresh grapefruit juice (I think) and it was very fresh and not overly sweet like a lot of mixed drinks are. They have quite a few others that looked interesting too!

Andrew k
Andrew k

The food is great for a concert venue/bar, but somewhat below expectations given the star power involved in creating the menu. It is very affordable, which makes it good for shows.

I was slightly disappointed in the beef burrito, however. My friend pointed out that it's full of a lot of beans and could really use something else to balance it out. The chips and salsa are very similar to Gallo Blanco's and as such are excellent. I haven't tried the guacamole yet, however.

Julie Peterson
Julie Peterson

It's also great when you don't want to drink a lot but don't want to be known as "that cheap-ass music-listening customer." I wasn't completely sure the kitchen was open yet, so we ate first, but I had a freshly made churro with cajeta to dip it in. Because there is also dessert! Yum.


Great idea to have the restaurant in the venue, so many times we have to decide where to eat before a show and where to park, etc. Saw a show here recently too, nice place!

Lauren Saria
Lauren Saria

I've been wanting to check this place out and was wondering if the food was good! Thanks for the info as always Laura :)

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