Black Pink at Chilte (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

One of Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurants is Less Than 2 Hours Away

September 21, 2023
By Shane Reiser
By Shane Reiser

Just a spin of Taylor Swift’s folklore and a spin of Birdy Nam Nam’s Dance or Die and Tucsonans can find themselves in the fifth largest city in the U.S.

The next time you find yourself in Phoenix, stop by Chilte, where you’re more likely to hear Tejano beats like MAMIII by Becky G x KAROL G than the tunes I rock on my drives to Phoenix.

a living room filled with lots of furniture
Dining room at Chilte (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

Chilte was just selected by Bon Appétit as one of their 24 Best New Restaurants of 2023.

I stopped by at the recommendation of Chef Feng-Feng Yeh and was greeted by the sweetest of hosts who told me in the sweetest possible way that all the tables were spoken for. My crew and I lingered a bit to admire the aesthetic and I almost ordered a Negroni (I’m on an epic quest for the best Negroni) when we struck gold. Someone canceled. A table opened up.

Amateur tip: Get a reservation.

Chilte is inside the Egyptian Motor Hotel. It’s a small, hip spot — just nine or so tables inside and a few more on the patio. The interior is a bit mid-century, a bit Latin, and a lot sexy. I fell in love with a painting of a woman wearing a lucha libre mask, closing her eyes in ecstasy after what must have been an epic match, small cuts visible on her neck and shoulders. If it’s not there anymore, I stole it.

a dining room table
Dining room at Chilte (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

Like the restaurant itself, the menu is pleasingly small. “Chilte” is short for chiltepin (a small but mighty pepper native to the Southwest). Because the menu is small and everything is delicious, Bon Appétit recommends you go with a crew and order everything.

I started with a Sangre De Maize — a Negroni made with Mezcal Carreño and Nixta Licor de Elote. It was light and sophisticated, with a cute little yellow flower on top. I stole the glass.

a glass of orange juice on a table
Sangre De Maize Negroni at Chilte (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

We were headed to another function that night, so ordering everything seemed imprudent. We went for two small plates and two mains, below:

Yucca Frites at Chilte (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

I’ve had many yucca fries. These were the best I’ve had. The breading was absolutely perfect. They’re hand-cut, topped with furikake and queso cincho, and served with Buddha’s Hand Aioli, which is as good as it sounds.

a bowl of food on a plate
Black Pink at Chilte (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

The best part of the dish Black Pink is the chocolate and corn aguachile (the dark sauce on the plate above). It was so good, we rolled the yucca frites in it. Also on the plate — Argentine prawns, prickly pear, avocado, cucumber, onion, chiltepin, corn tostada, tallow aioli.

a plate of food and a cup of coffee
Tacos de Birria at Chilte (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

The birria tacos come in beef, vegetarian, or vegan. I still can’t decide which part of this dish was the best — the squid ink corn tortilla (such a great texture and taste), the queso asadero, or the miso consommé (pour or dip at your pleasure). Also on the plate — cabbage, onion, salsa taquera.

a bowl of food on a plate
Pozole Recado at Chilte (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

My favorite: the Pozole Recado (brown buttered hominy and huitlacoche in a recao broth) was amazing. There wasn’t enough of it. The chicken was in my way. I wanted a whole bowl of just the Pozole. L.T. or Aseret (if you’re reading this), as the temperature begins to cool, please serve us this pozole in a giant bowl. We’ll charter a bus for that. A pozole bus from TUC to PHX. Let’s. Go. Also on the plate — chicken, slaw, and avocado.

Browsing Chilte’s website, I noted “Finding common threads through food” under Who We Be, which is not that dissimilar from Tucson Foodie’s new mission statement: to bring people together over a shared love of food.

I was right at home.

Pro tip: Stay the night and go to Dark Hall Coffee in the morning.

Chilte is located at 765 Grand Ave. For more information, visit

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