Warming up in Flagstaff…
We got to have a brief break during the holidays to go play up in the snow. Even as native Arizonans there is just something about seeing snow during December that just feels right. That said, I only lasted so long before needing to warm up and Criollo Latin Kitchen was the perfect spot to do just that.
Having just opened in December, Criollo is right in the middle of Flagstaff’s downtown located on San Francisco Street. I have always loved Flagstaff for its seasons and merciful temperature drop from Phoenix in the summer months. It has been nice to see the transformation that has been taking place up there over the past few years. The downtown area has begun to mature with the emergence of independent shops, galleries and restaurants are starting to add a local flavor and become a destination all their own. Criollo is adding its own flavor, Latin to be exact, that was missing from this mix. It is owned by Paul and Laura Moir, the same people who own Brix in Flagstaff, another favorite haunt of ours when in the northern country. If you haven’t tried Brix, that alone is worth the two hour drive.
Having spent the morning playing in the snow and working up an appetite, Sean, Aidan and I were ready to attack the menu when we got to Criollo. I was so hungry and cold at that point I would have settled for nearly anything. Thankfully I didn’t have to settle at all. Criollo offers brunch, lunch, dinner and tapas menus, although they offered to prepare us anything from their repertoire. A big thank you for that, since I couldn’t get past the Fingerling Potatoes with duck fat, sea salt and aioli on the tapas menu before looking at what they offered for lunch. Aidan turned his nose up at the aioli at first, but after accidentally getting a taste, he nearly finished off the whole plate.
Not to worry, I did have a Sandwich Cubano coming. I love a good Cuban Sandwich, and this one ranked right up there with the best. Sean and Aidan both went for the fish tacos, once they heard that they came with Mahi Mahi. I only got the briefest of bites from Aidan’s taco, since he was being a little territorial, but after having had a bite, I completely understand. The entire menu offers wonderfully authentic selections that all come with great care paid to organic ingredients and sustainably raised meats. Oh, and they have churros for dessert with Venezuelan chocolate! We were happily full by that point, but Sean has never turned down a churro. Why don’t all churros come with Venezuelan chocolate?
Flagstaff had been long overdue for noteworthy fare when Brix finally arrived four years ago. Brix turned up the notch for Flagstaff dining, moving away from the college/ski town fare to true cuisine. Criollo Latin Kitchen follows in that same tradition. It is nice to now have some real dining options in Flagstaff.
Latin food in cold weather, what a revelation!
Criollo Latin Kitchen
16 North San Francisco
Flagstaff, AZ 86001