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The Valley venerables

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By Coty Dolores Miranda

Valley residents have long had cravings for good authentic Mexican food as evidenced by three area Latino restaurants that are celebrating decades of longevity.

La Perla

One of the longest lasting local restaurants is Glendale’s La Perla Café, one of Arizona’s oldest restaurants. Serving authentic, home-style recipes for more than six decades, La Perla is still owned and run by the Pompa family. Four generations have had an active hand in this popular eatery.

La Perla Café opened in 1946 by the late Joseph (Joe) Peralta Pompa and his wife Eva Macias Pompa. The La Perla Café’s 60th anniversary was honored by Ed Pastor before the U.S. House of Representatives with the honorarium entered into the Congressional Record.

“In an industry where small business owners sometimes struggle to survive, the Pompas have thrived by following one simple rule: serving food as good as what you make at home,” saysPastor.

Joe, the patriarch, was born in Sonora.  His wife, Eve, came from Chihuahua with her widowed mother. La Perla was the pet name Joseph bestowed on his beloved wife, and that is the origin of the restaurant’s name. Chef Gabriel Pompa serves up the family recipes at this Glendale restaurant where everything is made from scratch and the chips and margaritas are unbeatable.

La Perla is at 5912 W. Glendale Ave., Glendale. (623) 939-7561. Hours are 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Los Olivos

One could say Los Olivos, 7328 Second St. in Scottsdale, grew up alongside Old Town. The property was owned by Tomas and Cecilia Corral, and once held a pool hall and Hispanic community gathering place where Catholic services were held before the Catholic church was built on First Street and Brown Avenue in 1933 — constructed from adobe made by the Corral family.

Cecilia’s homemade tortillas and tamales were well received by all, and Alvaro Corral opened the official Los Olivos restaurant in 1948. In 1996 opened the second Scottsdale location at 15544 N. Pima Road.

The past year proved to be a hard time for the Corral family. Both Alvaro Corral, Sr. and Alvaro Corral, Jr., 56, passed away. Ruby Corral-Peck says it’s hoped this year will be a better year.

Dining at the original location is entertainment on its own with the whimsical columns in the main dining room or the unusual ceiling and décor of the Blue Room.

The original Los Olivos restaurant is located at  7328 Second St.; for information call (480) 946-2256. Los Olivos norte is located at 15544 N. Pima Road; for information, call (480) 596-9787.  Hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday.

Los Dos Molinos

Although this family-owned restaurant opened on Main Street in Springerville more than 31 years ago, the Chavez family has expanded to locations in Phoenix, Mesa an Union Square in downtown Manhattan.

Best known is the always busy location at 8646 S. Central Ave. Weekends are boisterous with the long waits for a table mitigated by their marvelous margaritas, chips, exceptional salsas and homemade guacamole.

Spicy hot are the words that best describe the food, with every dish overseen by chef/owner Victoria Chavez. The New Mexican cuisine and  high-octane ambience, has been lauded by Zagat and Rolling Stone magazine.

The name, Spanish for ‘two grinders’ was selected by Victoria and her husband Eddie for two antique chili grinders passed down to them by his great grandmother from the family’s ranch in St. John, and her grandmother in New Mexico.

Other locations are 260 S. Alma School Road, Mesa, (480) 969-7475, and the original on east Main Street in Springerville (928) 333-4846. The South Phoenix restaurant phone is (602) 243-9113. A new restaurant opened in  at 1010 E. Washington in Phoenix, (602) 528-3535.

Closed on Sundays and Mondays, they are open Tuesday through Friday for lunch from 11 to 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. for dinner and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Frank and Lupe’s Old Mexico

Frank and Lupe’s celebrates 28 years serving old Mexico and New Mexico cuisine in Scottsdale. The owners operate another Frank and Lupe’s in Socorro, N.M.

Home-grown chilies are a key to their success, but be prepared to enjoy spicy, authentic New Mexico and Sonoran dishes. The homey-cottage refurbished by the Bernal family is rustically decorated and offers outside dining, and the Santos Lounge (where you’ll find a great selection of hand-selected tequilas)

Frank and Lupe’s is located at 4121 N. Marshall Way. and  is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday-Saturday. For information, call (480) 990-9844.

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