FOOD & DINING

Why this Phoenix restaurant was on HBO's 'Hard Knocks in Season' — and what didn't air

Bahar Anooshahr
Arizona Republic
Chef Rene Andrade of Bacanora cooked the food that the Cardinals served to UMOM on Thanksgiving.

HBO Max's Emmy award-winning show "Hard Knocks In Season" turned the lens on the Arizona Cardinals this year. The documentary follows the team, their training and the games, but also shares a peek into the lives of the players off the field.

In the first episode, one scene finds wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and linebacker Isiah Simmons at the acclaimed Phoenix Mexican restaurant Bacanora. The dining room is empty except for the two players and chef-owner Rene Andrade, who stands behind the bar talking about cooking some ribeye and chicken wings.

Andrade, a big sports fan, has hosted dinners for the Arizona Cardinals and the Arizona Coyotes at his small restaurant on Grand Avenue, which was nominated for a James Beard Award and named best new restaurant by Esquire, GQ and local media since opening in 2021.

And he has history with Hopkins. The two were spotted together at Taco Boys this summer.

Episode 1 showcases the friendship between a star chef and a star football player

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins takes questions from media Tuesday afternoon at team headquarters.

In the episode, Hopkins shares his disappointment three games into a six-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. "I feel like I let you all down," he says to Simmons.

"You got three games. You gotta be tough," Andrade says before going to check on their food.

While Hopkins's suspension was fodder for many stories, the series seems to set out to show there is more to him than that. Former Arizona Cardinals assistant coach Vernon Stephens said: "These are some of the most involved young men when it comes to civil duties, but unfortunately what makes news is their mistakes."

To his point, in episode 4, the cameras follow Hopkins on Thanksgiving day on his way to UMOM New Day Centers, a nonprofit organization that provides shelter for women, children, homeless families and victims of domestic violence.

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Chef Andrade is also behind the scenes in episode 4

"My mom was in a domestic situation that left her without her eyesight," Hopkins says as he drives to the shelter to serve the residents a holiday meal. "For me, it's part of my life. We have been through a lot as a family and we try to smile and help other people smile."

VIDEO: Cardinals Players And Staff Serve Over 500 Thanksgiving Meals

What's not shown in the episode is the chef behind the meal, which is none other than Andrade, who posted a live Instagram video on Thanksgiving morning from the kitchen where he was preparing the food for UMOM. "DeAndre Hopkins, Bacanora, Cardinals and me. The whole team, we are feeding 450 to 550 people. Pull up, come say hi, come to help the ones who need help the most. Please come over and help us out," Andrade said in the video. "I've never done this before. So if you have nothing to do for Thanksgiving, we're gonna start serving from 2 to 4."

Hopkins commented: "🙌 man of the people."

How to watch the series and eat at Bacanora

Episodes one to four are streaming now. New episodes are available on HBO and HBO Max on Wednesdays at 8 p.m.

Reservations at Bacanora are recommended. The restaurant is located at 1301 Grand Ave., Unit 1, Phoenix.

Details: 602-612-4018, bacanoraphx.com.

Happy hourTropical vibes rule at this Cuban-themed Phoenix bar from the Rough Rider crew

Reach the reporter at BAnooshahr@azcentral.com. Follow @banooshahr on Twitter.