PHOENIX, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- Google the word "neighborhood" and it says "A section lived in by neighbors, usually having distinguishable characteristics."
Well, the neighborhood known as the "16th Street Barrio" certainly lives up to that definition.
Its character is evident on the walls all along the street. Big art, front and center. But the art is only the beginning of the tale. This is the story of a community rising up and shining, and putting everybody on notice that 16th Street in Phoenix, Arizona is the place to be!
There are no tourist trappings on 16th Street. No white-washed buildings or green lawns.
In fact, 16th Street is a color wheel: Unabashedly bold and bawdy, moody and raw, and oddly comforting all at the same time.
"It's a neighborhood, barrio is your neighborhood. It's where your heart is at, and this is where my heart is at. Calle dieciseis," says Silvana Salcido Esparza, chef/owner of the Barrio cafe.
Esparza is one of the main reasons this community is alive and thriving. She doesn't create the standard Mexican food you grew up with. Instead, she creates what she calls Mexican-inspired cuisine.
Clearly her formula's working. It has earned her a James Beard award nomination and praise from critics from Los Angeles all the way to New York.
"I feel I represent my community through my food, and now a group of us, some great artists, are representing their city, through their art."
Some of that amazing art comes in the form of murals, created by graphic artist, Angel Diaz.
"Lots of people want their art hanging up in a gallery, but I would think having your art on a wall where everybody can see it as they drive by... because not a lot of people walk into galleries... this has got to be pretty big."
"It's just something that I've been doing for a long time, and fortunately I get to do it now as a professional," says Diaz.
We asked Diaz about his inspiration for the murals. "My culture. My culture's my number one inspiration," he says.
Craving coffee while in the Barrio neighborhood? Forget the chains; try some "mud."
We're talking about the "Mud Dabber" coffee shop. "It's one of the best hole-in-the-wall secrets anywhere."
Locals refer to this whole area as "the hive."
"The hive is part gallery, part community space, part resale boutique. We have four other micro-businesses here and we have several artist studios."
A vintage resale boutique called the Bees Knees specializes in new and used men's and women's clothing, as well as jewelry and unique retro items.
There's also an urban garden and a place to fix bikes.
When visiting this neighborhood, don't miss Ranch Market. For the uninitiated, this place can be a pretty overwhelming experience. It's a veritable foodie fantasy land.
"Ok, I've been in a lot of markets across the country and I've never been in anything like this place." You'll find dried chilies, corn husks for tamales and unusual ingredients like tamarind and Mexican squash.
Ready for a cool treat to top off your day? Here's the scoop: La Michoacana Ice Cream has some of the most delicious frozen goodness in the area.
Arizona Highways Television is brought to you by APS, the Arizona Commerce Authority, Wells Fargo, the Arizona Office of Tourism and the Arizona Lottery.