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Local Phoenix restaurant named one of the best restaurants of 2023

Chilte, owned by former NFL player and wife team, is one of 24 restaurants on the list and the only eatery from Arizona.

PHOENIX — Only one restaurant in Arizona was named to the Best New Restaurants of 2023 list — and the up and coming eatery is right here, in Phoenix.

Bon Appétit Magazine named 24 restaurants to the 2023 list and the new restaurant at the Egyptian Motor Hotel along Grand Avenue, Chilte, made the cut.

“We started as a small 10 x 10 pop-up during the farmer’s markets during the pandemic,” Lawrence Smith, chef and co-owner of Chilte said. “We did that for a year, grew it into a food truck.”

Smith owns the restaurant alongside his wife, Aseret Arroyo. While many may know Smith from his career in the National Football League, the former wide receiver attended the Arizona Culinary Institute and worked in various roles within the food industry across the state before starting Chilte. 

“Once the sports career ended, I kind of just naturally progressed into chasing down food, jumped into culinary school and it just stuck with me ever since,” he said. 

When you step inside the new restaurants, it’s easy to see why Smith and Arroyo have come a long way in such a short amount of time. The pair is known for combining some of the traditional elements of Mexican food and putting their own spin on it, using local tortillas and other mouthwatering ingredients.

“We’re just new, getting rocking and rolling,” said Smith. “We do new school, I guess we call it new school experimental Mexican.”

 Thecouple also said they aim to keep the marketing authentic, especially on social media.  

“From the very beginning, we wanted to create a story and document our journey,” said Arroyo. “…the highs, the lows, the days where we had no sales.”  

And clearly, it’s working. The Bon Appetit writer called the menu “an impressive, constantly changing roster of ambitious Mexican dishes.” 

“The fact that this article came out is huge,” Arroyo said. “We’re proud of our team, what we’ve accomplished in such a short amount of time, but we also strive to continue pushing the boundaries and continue being better.”

Lawrence and Aseret are looking ahead with optimism. 

“We’re looking forward to seeing new faces, excited…. regulars, so it’ll be cool,” said Smith. 

To check out all of Bon Appetit’s picks for the best new restaurants of 2023, head to their website.

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