Chef Rene Andrade Opens Bacanora on Grand Avenue

Nikki BuchananFebruary 26, 2021
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Chef Rene Andrade (center)
Chef Rene Andrade, center, in a behind-the-scenes shot at his former restaurant, Ghost Ranch, in 2020. Photo by Mirelle Inglefield.

Great news for Downtown dwellers and the avant-garde peeps who appreciate Grand Avenue for its quirky coolness. Rene Andrade, the Nogales-born chef who garnered a following at Ghost Ranch, is opening his own Grand Avenue restaurant today in the tiny sunlit space that most recently housed Silvana Salcido Esparza’s Barrio Café Gran Reserva – and years before that, the historical Bragg’s Pie Factory and Bragg’s Pie Factory Diner. Andrade is calling his pie wedge-shaped place Bacanora, name-checking the little-known and underrated mezcal produced in the town of Bacanora in Sonora, Mexico. Once he gets a liquor license (it’s pending), he’ll be selling Bacanora and other classic Mexican bevvies. In the meantime, customers can make do with refreshing aguas frescas such as jamaica and lemonade.

The menu will be Sonoran-inflected. Andrade is intent on showcasing the simple, delicious food he grew up eating in Nogales, which means you can expect to find the basic, homey dishes of Mexico’s cattle-ranching breadbasket – an area that’s all about beef and flour. Think carne asada and pollo asado cooked on a traditional Santa Maria grill over olive, pecan and mesquite wood. Andrade has partnered with his longtime friends Armando Hernandez and Nadia Holguin of Tacos Chiwas, who share his same philosophy: simple food made with quality ingredients. They will be supplying Andrade with their home-made, 100 percent organic flour tortillas, while Andrade is buying chicken from Two Wash Ranch.

In the beginning (especially today), the menu will be very limited, but Andrade plans to expand it over time, adding shrimp ceviche, his own special frijoles and who knows what else? Andrade is a huge proponent of the tiny red-hot chiltepin pepper, native to Sonora and found in abundance on his family’s ranch in Baviácora, Sonora. He’ll be using plenty of it at the restaurant – in salsa and in the marinade for the carne asada. He also plans to make use of the queso fresco made on his family’s ranch. Just as Hernandez and Holguin celebrate the food of their native Chihuahua, Andrade will show us just how good real Sonoran cooking can be.

For now, Bacanora will be open Friday and Saturday at 4 p.m. for takeout. Very soon, there will be a shady sidewalk patio and extended hours, including an 11 a.m. opening. I. Can’t. Wait.

1301 Grand Ave., Phoenix