15.Quince Grill and Cantina is located at 747 S. Main Street in Cottonwood. For more information, call 928-634-7087 or visit www.visitjeromeaz.com.
It's a long way from Bolivia to Jerome, but Vladimir Costa made it. Now, the chef-owner of 15.Quince Grill and Cantina is taking his "food is life" philosophy and spreading it to taco-hungry tourists and regulars alike.
© Jeff Kida
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By Kathy Ritchie
15.Quince Grill and Cantina in Jerome isn't just a restaurant, it's the realization of one man's imagination. In March 2009, chef-owner Vladimir Costa opened Quince in what once was the state's first Safeway store, and if the little hidden gem is Wonderland, Costa is Alice.
"Everything you see [here] is my vision," he says. "I don't have partners. I don't have consultants. It all comes from my mind."
Turquoise-colored walls are covered in crosses and ornately decorated steer skulls. Images of Frida Kahlo and the Virgen de Guadalupe occupy wall and table space. Day of the Dead keepsakes are scattered throughout. There's meaning in every detail. Even the name Quince is significant — according to Costa, the number represents humility.
At lunchtime, Quince is packed, and it's easy to get lost in the cacophony. The kitchen is just a few feet away, and dishes clank, pots bang and laughter erupts from almost every table. Costa's New Mexican-style cuisine is exquisitely prepared. Fresh, fragrant and full of color and flavor, every bite is just a little bit of heaven.
First-timers should try the fish tacos. The fish is battered using Full Moon Belgian-style white ale from Mudshark Brewing Co. in Lake Havasu City. Each taco — there are three per serving — is covered with a mango pico de gallo, cabbage and sweet pomegranates.
The enchiladas also are incredible — smoky with enough heat from Hatch chiles to make them delicious, but not so much that it overwhelms the dish. Of course, if you do need to put out a flavor fire, there's nothing like one of Costa's freshly made margaritas. That is, with the exception of the Spicy Guera, which is made with jalapeños.
For the tattooed, Bolivian-born Costa, food is love. "People don't think about what they're actually putting into their bodies," he says. "Food is an afterthought." Needless to say, he's serious about his craft and everything that comes out of his kitchen.
"I'm feeding people. That's where it starts. I'm feeding a customer, a human being, a friend, a guest," he says. "Food is art. Food is life. Food is love. Food is family."
EDITOR'S NOTE: At the time of publication, 15.Quince was located at 363 Main Street in Jerome. It has since moved to a larger location at 747 S. Main Street in Cottonwood.
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