Blue Adobe Grille (Mesa, AZ)

Back in mid-December, I had a brief work trip to Tucson, AZ. While I can nominally fly into Tucson, it always involves enough connecting flights that it’s pretty much just as easy to fly into Phoenix and drive. This also gives me a good opportunity to have a visit with my parents, and usually that involves a trip out for dinner. In this case, we opted to go for a long-time favorite of both myself and my parents, Blue Adobe Grille.

Blue Adobe Grille opened back in 2000 in a converted A-frame familiar to Arizonans as a former Village Inn Pizza, with the goal of serving, not Mexican cuisine itself, but New Mexican cuisine, that fairly unique-to-the-Southwest fusion of Pueblo Native American cuisine with Spanish and Mexican cuisine, featuring the frequent and bold use of chile peppers. While they’ve had a bit of a complicated history with spin-off restaurants in Scottsdale (still around, although billing themselves as Blue Adobe Sante Fe Grille) and Chandler (now closed), with both the Mesa and Scottsdale places claiming to be the “original”, but in any case, they’ve been around and successful for quite a long time. And with almost 24 years under their belt, I think Blue Adobe Grill has now occupied the building even longer than Village Inn Pizza did.

Since my first visit back in 2001, the actual interior hasn’t changed that much (although several internal decorated panels have been recently added, probably as a byproduct of the Covid-era restrictions); a large bar with a good array of specialty margaritas, a nicely decorated dining room covered with colorful fiesta-style startbursts, and a very vibrant dining room (interestingly, there are still a few Village Inn architectural details remaining, like the stained glass). Menu-wise, it’s a solid Southwest menu of Mexican and Tex-Mex favorites, with the addition of a handful of New Mexican stalwarts, like stacked enchiladas, red chile posole, carne adovada, and heavy use of Hatch green chiles. And like most places I like in actual New Mexico, almost anything that’s sauced comes with the automatic question of “red or green” for the sauce.

Normally a trip to Blue Adobe would have me focusing on a few favorite menu items, like the stacked enchiladas or their “spooning rellenos” (a plate of roasted anaheim peppers, stuffed with beef tenderloin, chorizo, jack and cheddar, served all spooned together on the plate), but it had been quite a bit of time since my last visit, and my day of airline travel had me quite hungry, so I decided to go for one of their showcase entrees: The Land of Enchantment. This is a beef tenderloin medallion topped with chipotle shrimp and dressed with jalapeño Hollandaise, accompanied by a red-chile chicken enchilada, a green chile potato, and some seasonal sautéed vegetables. Yeah, it’s a lot of food. But you know, they do this quite well. The tenderloin was very tender and flavorful, with a nice spicy chile rub. The chipotle shrimp were nicely smoky, grilled just to the right point of crispiness. Both the shrimp and tenderloin were well-complemented by the bold jalapeño Hollandaise. The chicken enchilada was a nice counterpoint with a softer, milder red sauce, and the “green chile potato” is really more of a “chipotle-potato-stuffed green chile”. Added up, I count at least six different types of chile peppers involved here, and the overall dish was both well-composed and balanced in flavor despite all the different peppers.

It was a quick visit, but I enjoyed hitting up Blue Adobe again. The food was boldly spiced, flavorful, and well-prepared. Definitely still having a good thing going almost 24 years after opening.

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