Anhelo Brings Fine Dining to Downtown Phoenix

Anhelo is Spanish for desire. To chef Ivan Jacobo, desire applies to the guests, the staff and the experience. “We focus on the full experience from the moment you walk into the restaurant to the moment you leave,” he said. “We offer fine dining, but we like to have fun and create a relaxing environment. Many of our reservations are for celebrations and it’s our privilege to share our guests’ special occasions.”

Jacobo was born in Mexico and grew up in the West Valley. “I didn’t cook growing up because I had a traditional Mexican mother who cooked everything,” he said. “I was thinking about being a mechanic but in high school I was inspired by ‘Iron Chef.’ I had never seen food that looked like art like that.” 

Jacobo studied culinary arts at Estrella Mountain Community College in Avondale. The first in his family to go to college, he didn’t know about scholarships and worked his way through school with his parents’ help. A few classes shy of graduating, he left school to take his first job at Verrado in Buckeye, which was a great learning experience. 

After spending time working in California, Jacobo moved back to the Phoenix area. He worked long hours at a few restaurants, then opened a food truck. Volunteering at a charity event inspired him to start doing pop-up dinners. “I saw strangers coming together to enjoy a meal while supporting a cause, and I fell in love with hospitality,” he said.

His pop-ups started small but soon became so popular that they regularly sold out, which led to the opening of Anhelo in Heritage Square in downtown Phoenix in 2019. 

“It started out as a more casual concept but grew into fine dining as we got more business clientele,” Jacobo said. “With so many bars and casual restaurants, there was a need for a fine dining restaurant in downtown Phoenix.”  

In 2022, Anhelo moved to the historic Orpheum Lofts building and the restaurant has flourished due to its excellent service, expansive wine list and beautiful dishes featuring high-quality ingredients. 

Anhelo offers a three-course or seven-course menu with a la carte items available on request. Some items on the menu change based on seasonality. Popular items on the recent menu include foie gras torchon with papaya and pomegranate, duck with honey glaze and lavender crust, and Australian lamb with whipped potatoes. Menu favorites include roasted cauliflower, scallops with sweet potato puree and beef wellington with wild mushroom duxelles and prosciutto.

A Wine Spectator Award winner, Anhelo offers expert wine pairings with its menus. Anhelo also hosts wine dinners with some of the world’s best winemakers.

Giving back has always been important to Jacobo. A portion of sales from the restaurant’s house wines benefit LoveIAM, a nonprofit dedicated to helping families and children with congenital heart defects. He recently started a scholarship fund for culinary students at Estrella Mountain Community College, inspired by his own challenges paying for school.   

“Our staff is like a family, and we love coming together to support worthy causes,” Jacobo said. 

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About Shoshana Leon

Shoshana Leon is a culinary writer for Frontdoors Media and creator of Foodie Fo Sho.

From Frontdoors Magazine

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