Aunt Chilada’s Mexican restaurant in Tempe, Arizona offers families a fun, bold atmosphere in a casual setting with delicious food.
Aunt Chilada’s (pronounced similarly to enchiladas) is painted in bright blue and orange and is difficult to miss. It is bordered by a small man-made pond with striking blue water, green tropical plants, large mature trees, and lovely multi-colored flowers. Small bridges lead guests over the waters and into the main room of the restaurant where the bar and hostess area is located. Guests have the option of dining outside or in among the series of small buildings that give the feel of small casitas all opening up into a central courtyard.
Since it was just April and the Phoenix sun had yet to bring out all it’s fury, we ate outdoors in the patio that connects the casita style architecture and layout. The courtyard and the casitas work together to evoke the feeling that many families from the surrounding homes and areas were coming together to enjoy a large, relaxing family meal in a time and place that I wish still existed in our culture.
The service added to this family feeling and was as warm and friendly as I would expect my own Aunt Chilada to be at a family meal. The patio was bustling with energy, color and even several birds, which kept my kids entertained for a large part of the meal. Our server told us that a family of ducks visited the patio almost every night and that the kids always enjoyed watching them. Although we did not see the ducks while dining, we spotted them right outside the gates. We did unfortunately have some unwanted flies that also seemed intrigued by the smells of yummy food, but they were mostly just a slight nuisance.
The menu has both your typical expectations of a Mexican-American restaurant such as carne asada, flautas, sizzling hot fajitas, chimichangas, and fifteen budget minded combination platters. It also features some lesser known Mexican specialties such as Fideo, a tomato based angel hair pasta with Mexican spices that looked scrumptious. I started my meal with the Gazpacho de Cocktail de Camarones, which was a fancy shrimp cocktail served in an amazing sauce blended with avocados. It was cool and delightful, although not too tempting to my young and not-so-adventurous children. We also made it just in time for Happy Hour and enjoyed one of their signature blended Sangria margaritas that was wonderfully refreshing for mom and dad. For the main course, I dined on their Pollo-asada chicken fajitas that were tender, moist, and full of juicy flavor. The kids always love watching a plate of fajitas make its way to the table as it seems to be a side show if it’s own.
The kid’s menu is pretty traditional in its offerings: grilled cheese, quesadilla, burritos, tacos, and chicken. A few fun touches were that the kid’s plates were served with a tiny pack of Oreo cookies and the French fries came with a miniature Heinz bottle of ketchup that my daughter brought home as one of her very treasured souvenirs. It was a bit difficult to get them to focus on eating their meal after seeing the Oreos on the plate, but in the end it served as helpful motivation to finish eating the more healthy part of the meal first. They offer a few fun desserts such as deep fried ice cream, caramel flan, cajeta cheesecake, and sopapillas - a dish that combines Mexican flatbread deep fried and topped with honey and cinnamon sugar. Yum!
As we left the restaurant, I couldn’t help but notice that the bright blue and orange colors of the building matched that of the setting sun in the desert sky. We had enjoyed a great time together, our bellies were full of delicious food, and even the sky reflected the joy and colors of the food and culture of Aunt Chilada’s. I would recommend this location to any family seeking a relaxed tasty Mexican meal that offers friendly service, a casual and great food.
Disclosure: My family did receive a complimentary dinner in order to complete this review. The restaurant did not ask me to express any particular viewpoint and, as always, all reviews reflect my honest opinion.
After eating at he other locations at Pointe South, my husband finally talked me into trying the Mexican food at Aunt Chiladas. Mexican food in Phoenix usually has a different flair and I was quite surprised. It seemed like they were trying to be more upscale with the menu but honestly in Arizona the only thing I want is a Cheese Crisp. I ended up getting something but I wasn't very impressed.