According to Smithsonian Magazine, Navajo Fry Bread originated 144 years ago when the United States forced Indians living in Arizona to make the 300-mile journey known as the “Long Walk” and relocate to New Mexico onto land that couldn’t easily support their traditional staples of vegetables and beans. To prevent the indigenous populations from starving, the government gave them canned goods as well as white flour, processed sugar and lard—the makings of Fry-Bread.
Now, when you think of Fry Bread, visions of a colorful carnival come to mind. You think of sweetened fried bread coated in layer of powdered sugar, but the fried breads at The Fry Bread House (1003 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85014), are something else. And when I say something else, I mean it: the fried pockets of goodness were wonderful.
In 1992, a Tohono O’odham woman named Cecilia Miller opened the original Fry Bread House in Phoenix with just three items on the menu. Over the years the restaurant has grown in popularity and as a result has found a new and even larger location to serve out some of the most delicious fried delicacies that have ever been tasted in the food world. Now two decades after they opened in their first small, quaint location, the James Beard Foundation has named the restaurant one of “America’s Classics,” and it has been recognized for its “timeless appeal” and “beloved for quality food that reflects the character of the community.”
As we entered the modest, plain building in which The Fry House is housed, the smell hit us. This smell was not like any other smell, and it hit us hard. The delicate yet powerful smell of the bubbling, greasy, oozing fry breads cooking was enough to serenade a large bear.
Before we stepped up to the ordering stand we took a stop in the bathroom to wash our hands after a long day in the city of Phoenix. As we entered the bathroom, another smell hit us. This smell was not like any other smell, and it hit us hard. But this was not a good smell. I do not think I can describe the horrible odors and aromas eroding off each nook and cranny of the small, unappealing bathroom. To be brief in my description, it seemed as though the bathroom had not been cleaned since the restaurant opened.
After struggling through washing our hands, we made it to the ordering stand and began to list what fry breads we chose to dine on.
We ordered three fry breads: the Green Chile Pork Fry Bread, the Bean and Chorizo Fry Bread, and the Cinnamon Sugar and Butter Fry Bread.
The Green Chile Pork Fry Bread was wonderful. The hot, spongy, moist bread was served at the perfect temperature, and was topped with hot, tender, juicy pork dribbling with a slathering of spicy, rich, full-bodied Green Chile Sauce.
The Fry Bread in its original form did not look to appealing, but as you have been told: don’t judge a book by its cover!
The Chorizo and Bean Fry Bread was quite delicious.
The fiery, hot succulent chorizo literally melted like butter on the tongue of anyone lucky enough to indulge in the delectable Fry Bread. In addition, the juicy meat melded nicely with the grainy, toothsome black beans- ultimately creating a medley of wondrous flavors when put together.
Finally, the Cinnamon Sugar and Butter Fry Bread was simple yet elegant.
The bread was crispy and crusty on the outside and pillowy and fluffy on the inside. This Fry Bread unlike the others, was served pizza style, not rolled up like the other two. The dish was topped with a hefty dusting of sweet yet robust cinnamon sugar, and a slathering of melted butter. Delicious!
Overall, The Fry Bread House was truly quite wonderful. The only tip I would give you, would be to wash your hands and use the bathroom before entering the restaurant! I would give it, ZZZZ- 4 Z’s- yum!