The story of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s love is a tale of twists and turns; of passion and drama. They were an odd pair, as Diego was twice Frida’s age, portly, and masculine; while Frida was fragile and sensitive.
Restauranteurs Luis Montaño and Veronica Fernandez were inspired by the duality of the famous couple. Hence the name- El Panzón y Frida. El Panzón is Spanish for potbellied. They used that inspiration as a guide when designing the interior and creating the menu. Everything in the restaurant has a duality- something very masculine, and something very delicate and feminine.
I love how the restaurant just fills with natural sunlight, brightening the industrial-meets-rustic interior in all its’ glory. The owners really took the ‘duality’ into consideration when combining the tile with the concrete, the wood with the brick and pressed tin. I feel that the flower motif that was stenciled in and is seen throughout the space, contributes to the decor’s femininism.
Executive Chef Paulina Martinez has always been inspired by the arts, especially while spending her youth painting with her grandmother in Sonora, Mexico. She went on to study culinary arts at GLION Institute of Higher Learning in Mexicali. After spending time immersing herself in the world of hospitality, food styling, fine dining, and other various aspects of the industry, she eventually found herself in Scottsdale, AZ.
I’m so glad that she was chosen to help with the creation of the artsy dining establishment. The restaurant is branded as a place that serves international and New American cuisines, yet if she can’t find a certain ingredient, she’ll just substitute for a Mexican ingredient. She creates dishes that are largely inspired by Frida’s paintings. “I would describe the menu has very intense.”
Since I’m vegetarian, with some exceptions of dairy and salmon, there’s unfortunately not a whole lot of meat-free options on the menu, however, there are a couple options that I HIGHLY recommend. The House Gyozas ($10) are inspired by Frida’s flower crowns, and just happen to be my favorite dish. The little flower-like dumplings are stuffed with sweet potato, carrots, and beet puree; while floating on a punchy citrus soy sauce. Edible flowers are sprinkled on top as a sweet finishing touch to the exotic dish. I usually have to ask for bread to dip in the sauce once the gyozas are gone, as I can’t stop eating it. I also love the Classic Tomato Soup ($8). Chef Paulina really took this childhood classic and amped it up by adding goat cheese, cherry tomatoes, and pesto. It hit every taste bud at exactly the right time. I usually wash everything down with the iced green tea, which is steeped at the table. The tea and coffee are locally sourced from Passport Coffee– a company based in Scottsdale. Their wines are boutique, and beers/cocktails are craft.
They’ve recently added brunch to their menu. It’s available Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm. You guys, you MUST try the Amaretto French Toast ($10). Have you ever seen such a beautifully-plated dish, that it makes you almost burst into tears? Welllll…. I almost did. Chef just puts her whole heart into her cooking and plating. She also adds her signature edible flowers as a finish to the dish. Its’ flavors include amaretto, lemon curd, micro mint, and I also tasted some cinnamon as well.It is probably the best French toast I’ve ever tasted. I also suggest getting the French Pressed Coffee, as it was the perfect accompaniment.
Chef tells me about her most popular dishes. “The Grilled Octopus ($14) is remarkably popular, as it takes time to prep and cook it, but it’s worth it. The Sea Bass Ceviche ($11) is a very colorful dish. The Bone Marrow ($16) is a messy, eat-with-your-fingers rustic dish… We use techniques and dishes from all over the world and make it our own.”
I do think that if Frida and Diego were around today, they’d approve of this concept!
Huge shout-out to all the wonderful staff! You guys are always so friendly and welcoming!
El Panzón y Frida is located at:
7323 E. Shoeman Lane
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Have any of you visited the restaurant? If so, tell me in the comments, what were your experiences? Favorite dish(es)?