Arizona Mills' New Food Hall: Burritos By Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza and Sad Noodle Soup
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, and dish about 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).
Lauren Saria A build-your-own burrito from Tinta at Arizona Mills' shiny new food court -- er, hall.
Restaurant: The "Food Hall by Villa" at Arizona Mills mall
Lauren Saria Ooooh! Fancy!
Location: 5000 S. Arizona Mills Circle, Tempe
Open: About a week
Eats: 10 new restaurant concepts
Price: About $10 a person
Normally, we don't think twice about the food found in a shopping mall but when we heard that Arizona Mills mall in Tempe was unveiling a renovated, multimillion-dollar, 13,262-square-foot concessions area -- well, we just had to check it out.
Part of the intrigue comes from the fact that one of the 10 new restaurant concepts in the food
court hall comes from James Beard Award-nominated chef Silvana Esparza. The concept, called Tinta Mexicana, offers build-your-own burritos, tacos, bowls, and quesadillas.
We headed there first.
An entree with chicken from Tinta costs $6.25, which is a quarter cheaper than the $6.50 charged at Chipotle. On the other hand, Tinta's carne asada will set you back $7.55, slightly more than Chipotle's steak. Averaging it all out the prices are pretty much even so this Chiptole-esque mall stop is clearly trying to beat the competition on quality not price.
According to the bag on the counter, the restaurant is getting their tortillas from the reputable La Sonorense Bakery in Phoenix. Flour tortillas are used for burritos, while corn are used for the three soft taco entree option.
Based on looks, we chose to stuff our burro with chicken, which we were surprised to see the employees cut to order. We also added black beans (pinto are also available), rice, and a slew of other toppings. This is where Tinta steps it up by offering a larger number of burrito toppings than it's well-known competition. We love that you can add onions and cilantro, three different kinds of salsa, pico de gallo, corn, diced tomatoes, and even pickled veggies. Cheese and sour cream are also on hand, as well as guacamole for an additional $1.25.
We were disappointed however to find that the rice in our burrito was partially under-cooked. And biting into hard grains of rice really took away from what was otherwise a very good burrito. The chicken was moist and flavorful, seasoned-well and grilled expertly and each of the salsas had its own bold flavor. The burrito was more than enough food for one hungry diner.