One of the year’s most anticipated restaurant openings in downtown Phoenix is almost here. Gallo Blanco Café is now expected to make its official reappearance in June of 2017. The new Gallo will take over the former American Way Market building on the northwest corner of 10th and Pierce streets in the Garfield Historic District, with new renovations looking to push capacity to around 76 diners.
But don’t call it a comeback.
For most of us, Gallo never left. Formerly housed within the Clarendon Hotel in Midtown, Gallo Blanco was, for years, the “go-to” for quality, consistent, New World American and Mexican food. Indeed, it seemed to always be among the first restaurants valley newcomers were taken to by local residents on their individual “welcome-to-Phoenix” tour. Gallo Blanco remains a household name for me; it was where my wife and I met for dinner on our first date.
And if you are wondering how the new Gallo will measure up with the old, have no fear, the fire roasted salsa….is back!
But, why the resurgence? And why Garfield?
Chef Owner Doug Robson says that his goal has always been to bring back that familiar sense of community to downtown. “We all feel a degree of ownership and belonging at Gallo,” Doug told us, “everyone who comes here seems to feel that way. I chose Garfield because this neighborhood needs to feel it, too.”
Having earned successes at both the former Gallo and at Otro Café, his “other” restaurant on 7th Street and Bethany, Doug is betting on Garfield as the next wellspring of prosperity and growth for downtown. “After two years of searching, I knew right away that this was the spot.” he said. “This place spoke to me. I knew we were in it for the long haul.”
The name “Gallo Blanco” is a somewhat unconventional term for “White Guy” in Spanish. It stems from Doug’s years growing up in Mexico City and subsequently working in a kitchen on the East Coast, where his colleagues would playfully warn others to be careful what they said in Spanish around Doug; this “Gallo Blanco,” they cautioned, knows what you were saying.
For this project, Gallo has had help from Holly Street Studio with the redesign of the 1920s building, and will be working with New Pathways for Youth, a neighborhood nonprofit for mentoring and life skill development, to promote hiring from within the community.
For many, including myself, the memories of that old neighborhood-friendly restaurant never really leave you; and we maintain high expectations for Gallo’s triumphant return this summer. For anyone still doubting whether Doug’s gamble will pay off, it might be wise to watch what you say around this “Gallo Blanco,” he seems to always have an ear to the ground, and has yet to disappoint.
If You Go:
What: Gallo Blanco Café
Where: Northwest corner of 10th and Pierce streets in the Garfield Historic District in downtown Phoenix. Anticipated Grand Opening: June of 2017.
*Photos by Jeffrey Borup