Photos by Lizzy Riecken
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Gallo Blanco, located inside the Clarendon Hotel on Clarendon and Fourth avenues, is a popular central Phoenix restaurant with a unique style and an even cooler menu.
When I ate at Gallo Blanco, the restaurant was surprisingly busy for a Wednesday evening.
Patrons crowded the restaurant, and I waited for seating. Hip alternative music played in the lobby, and overall the feeling of the restaurant was retro.
The lounge outside Gallo Blanco was occupied by a diverse crowd of young and older customers as well as children and hotel guests, some waiting for the hotel’s flamenco dance show to begin.
As a starter, my friend and I ordered queso fundido con vegetables, a classic melted Oaxacan cheese dish with vegetables instead of the classic chorizo meat. The cheese came in an oven dish, still hot, with mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes mixed in and tortilla chips and white corn tortillas on the side.
The cheese was rich and of a smooth consistency — not at all rubbery like other quesos fundidos. The mushrooms were mixed inside the cheese and added texture and flavor to the cheese.
Gallo Blanco’s tortillas are an entity of their own. The tortillas Gallo Blanco serves are all freshly made in the restaurant, from their chips to their plain tortillas to their tostadas. The chips are a perfect ratio of salt and crunch with a distinct maize taste. The tortillas are soft and white, with a fresh flavor of white corn. They are not too heavy.
As a meal, I decided to order chilaquiles verdes with vegetables, which is a traditional breakfast item — and also a great cure for hangovers, said our waitress. The chilaquiles were made with a combination of house salsas, Oaxacan cheese, a medley of vegetables and eggs sunny side up. All of these ingredients were layered in between tostadas, which are usually of a crunchy consistency, but since the chilaquiles were put in the oven, the tostada soaked up some of the salsa juices and the whole dish could be cut through with a knife.
The flavors of the chilaquile dish were incredible. The thick salsa added deep and spicy flavors, and the cheese had melted and between the layers of tostada and vegetable, adding a nice flavor to the dish. The two eggs on top were cooked perfectly. They were not at all runny but the yolk was still soft, which added to the overall combination of textures and flavors.
The house salsas Gallo Blanco offered were opposites. The red salsa was smoky and had a ton of spice — perhaps too much of a kick. The green salsa had a nice mild spice and plenty of cilantro, salt and tomatillo.
My friend decided on the ceviche and the carne asada beef burrito.
The Americanized ceviche was not at all like the traditional Mexican recipe. It had more tomatoes and less lime than I would have liked.
The beans inside the burrito were fresh and had a nice “de la olla” flavor. They were not refried and added a nice texture. The meat was of a good quality and classic in its smoky asada flavor. Overall the burrito did not have enough variety, but the flour tortilla was done perfectly.
I ordered a Lux coffee with my meal, and my friend got a fresh lemonade, which was refreshing and tart but not very sweet.
As far as the portion sizes go, if you order an appetizer and a dish, that should be more than enough. But with just a main dish, it may be hard to fill up.
The dessert menu looked enticing with tres leches, lime tart, flan, orange cake and crepas con cajeta, but by the end of the meal and starter, my friend and I were stuffed. Dessert would have been too much.
Gallo Blanco is a little pricy — my coffee, starter and chilaquiles added to around $22 — but the restaurant offers a reasonably priced happy hour every day from 3 to 6 p.m. and all day Tuesday.
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