There aren’t many restaurants with names like “Glory” or “Glorious” — unless, of course, they’re in Spanish. Around the world, it’s not uncommon to find eateries with “Las Glorias” in their names, and Phoenix has two of them. One is a seafood restaurant in south Phoenix. The other one, Las Glorias Grill on the north side of town, has a broad menu with a good seafood selection of its own. This particular Las Glorias is located across the street from the 19th Avenue / Northern light rail station.
Las Glorias Grill occupies a worn strip mall. There are no bike racks, but plenty of metal fences as an alternative. The restaurant is a bright spot in between a smoke shop and a corner convenience store. While the building’s exterior is non-descript, Las Glorias is unexpectedly busy and cheerful inside. Booths ring the room, with one in the corner pocket being particularly well suited to large groups. The restaurant is full service, and although there’s no official host station, staff are usually quick to greet arriving guests and seat them in the dining room.
All meals start with a basket of chips served warm and fresh from the fryer. Two dips are provided by default. One is a lively salsa with a moderate spice level. The other is a warm, creamy bean dip. It’s not terribly different than the refried beans that come with most entrees and combination plates, but it’s slightly less viscous than refritos and easily scooped by the edge of a chip. For thrill-seekers, a hotter salsa is available upon request at no charge, and a chunky guacamole can be ordered a la carte, bringing the total of all possible chip dips to four.
The menu is expansive with distinct categories for burritos, enchiladas, chimichangas, fajitas, and the expected combination platters. The Las Glorias combo is suitable for the indecisive or hungry with its hefty assortment of a beef or chicken taco, an enchilada of one’s choice, a red beef tamale, a chile relleno, and, of course, sides of rice and beans. It’s a huge platter of gooey goodness for those who want it all. Fortunately, all the components are available individually on an a la carte basis or at the center of more manageable entrees.
At lunch, smaller combination platters provide value and just enough food to satisfy without inducing an office siesta. The #7 platter offers two chicken enchiladas, rice, and beans. The poultry is tinga, a mix of shredded dark & white meat. Choose the tomatillo sauce over sour cream, and the reward is an unexpectedly spicy dish. The #12 combo includes a red chile burro, rice, beans, guacamole, and sour cream. It’s served enchilada style with sauce on top, and the meat is braised until tender with a subtle chile flavor throughout.
Although Las Glorias Grill isn’t the Las Glorias typically thought of as a seafood restaurant, aquatic fare is actually a strength of the menu. A separate section lists specialties such as shrimp rancheros, an entree full of plump crustaceans simmered in a zesty sauce of tomato, bell peppers, and jalapenos. Shrimp en diablo take the heat to an even higher level, while dishes such as the shrimp burrito mellow the spice with a sauce based on sour cream. In most cases, octopus, or pulpo, can be substituted for prawns.
Shrimp with garlic is enlivened not only with the named ingredient, but also with slices of lemon. Pescado al ajillo is tilapia in a light sauce flavored by smokey, slightly spicy dried peppers. It’s a good match for the mild white fish underneath. Most seafood dishes have rice and beans on the side, as well as a choice of flour or corn tortillas. A small bowl of Caesar salad topped with pepitas and cotija cheese is a complimentary appetizer in most cases. The salad can be ordered on its own and combined in a light meal with a bowl of tortilla soup full of chicken, squash, and potato.
While the tortilla soup is itself a satisfying light choice, Las Glorias also serves big bowls of soup known as caldos. They’re available with shrimp, a mixture of shrimp and octopus, or the “siete mares” version, which incorporates all sorts of seafood. With tortillas on the side, these vessels provide a hearty entree option. On weekends, yet another meal in a bowl is the menudo, served in the customary fashion with tripe in a seasoned broth and a platter of chopped white onions, minced cilantro,and fiery chiles served on the side as condiments.
The cocktail menu lists any number of flavored, specialized margaritas. They’re potentially worth exploring, but it’s hard to say no to the house margarita, which seems to be eternally discounted to $1.99 in a sort of perpetual happy hour. It’s a generous, potent pour with or without salt on the rim. Most familiar brands of Mexican beer are also available. For dessert, the flan is a straightforward, pleasing choice. Children’s meals come with a free dessert of small churros with vanilla ice cream. The serving is generous enough that the adults at the table can often scavenge a few bites.
With the South Central extension of light rail now moved up to 2023 from an original date of 2034, the other Las Glorias should eventually be served by light rail. In the nearer term, however, Las Glorias Grill on 19th Avenue is accessible and appreciated after years of construction in that part of town. The words “glory” or “glorious” may be be used infrequently in the somewhat cynical dialect of American English that prevails today, but they come pretty close to describing the stronger dishes, especially the seafood, at Las Glorias Grill.
7835 N. 19th Ave., Phoenix AZ 85021