15414 N 19th Ave, Suite K
Phoenix, AZ 85023
Everyday: 11:00am – 9:00pm
Can’t decide between Chinese or Mexican today? Wouldn’t it be nice if someone combined them together so you can get the best of both worlds? Well…here at Chino Bandidos that is their specialty…fusing the flavors of both into Chi-Mex (and even a little of Caribbean) with combination like jerk fried rice, Machaca, and Chinese pork. I heard about this place from a local and decided to give them a try after doing a little Yelp and Urbanspoon due diligence (one of the higher rated places in Phoenix BTW). The due diligence also said it gets really busy during lunch and dinner time. So I tried to hit up this place right after work thinking I would beat some of the dinner rush. No bueno???? It was still pretty busy when I got here at 5:30PM with four or five groups of people dining and another 5 or 6 people waiting to order. Not a big deal if people in front of you have been there before. If not, you may be in line for a while. The congestion is typically from the noobs receiving samples of the food and trying to figure out the complicated ordering form. Unfortunately, I was one of those noobs…I couldn’t figure out how to fill out that damn form so I just went up to the counter and told them that I wanted “that” (and pointed to the Red Jade Chicken meal). The cashier then asked if I wanted white rice or fried rice…of course I had to get the fried rice (an extra $.75)…then she asked, “do you want jerk fried rice?” Recalling on Yelp people raving about the jerk fried rice I went with that (more on these Yelp reviews later). The total for the meal after tax was about $8.
In the 10 mins I waited for my food there was a steady stream of people coming in to do to go orders. By the time I got my food there was probably about 15 people waiting in line and another 8 or 9 waiting for their order. I took my food to go but if you decide to eat-in there’s plenty of tables to accommodate 30-40 people.
I’ve had the Red Jade Chicken and the Diablo Chicken. The Diablo is like any other Hong Kong/Chinese style fried chicken with jalapeno peppers.
The Red Jade Chicken was like a sweet and sour chicken with some hints of orange chicken to it. For the most part it seems these guys follow the same basic recipe as most Chinese places: vinegar, sugar, ketchup, and corn syrup for the sweet and sour sauce. I thought it was good but nothing that blew my mind. The Jerk Fried Rice on the other hand…mind blown. I have had amazing fried rice dishes in my day (including my favorite, Green Village which is now closed) but this was something different that my taste-buds were also loving. The sweet and tanginess of the jerk sauce mixed with the savory/saltiness of the fried rice was an amazing combo. It also came with little chunks of chicken, green onions, and a generous amount of black pepper. I’ll probably just order a whole plate of this stuff next time I’m in town.
An added bonus to the meal was a snicker doodle cookie that came with it. This was a pleasant surprise as this is neither a Chinese or a Mexican tradition. Regardless, the cookie was nice and crunchy on the outside and soft inside, almost like it was just baked. For me to give props to a desert is a pretty big deal. I don’t normally eat sweets but this cookie may have changed my mind.
Remember I mentioned I did some due diligence on Yelp before coming here? Well, although mostly positive, I noticed there were some pretty harsh reviews on this place on Yelp. Is it the best Chinese place? No. Is it the best Mexican spot? No. But is it damn good food on the cheap that is completely different than most places? Hell yeah! I think if you come here with an open mind you’ll have a pretty unique culinary experience that you can share with your friends and co-workers about.
Side Note – There was a poster of Guy Fieri on the wall so I guess he ate here on Triple D or something…whatever. Maybe I should post a picture of myself on the wall everywhere I eat. Or not, I’m not that conceded?