Cinco de Mayo 2022

cinco de mayoCelebrate Cinco de Mayo with Phoenix’s top places for tacos!

Carolina’s
1202 E Mohave St, Phoenix, AZ 85034 – 602.252.1503

Carolina Valenzuela is the O.G. of the Phoenix’s Mexican food scene. Since 1968, the smell of freshly made tortillas has attracted diners far and wide. After more than 60 years, having only three options for tacos — shredded beef, chicken, and machaca (the one to get, featuring dried meat mixed with spices and rehydrated) — has not slowed business in the least.

Fry Bread House
4545 N 7th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85013 – 602.351.2345

Phoenix residents have long argued over whether or not fry bread counts as a taco, but Arizona’s indigenous peoples had customized and mastered the “Indian taco” long before it was introduced to modern audiences. Fry Bread House owner Cecilia Miller of the Tohono O’odham Nation has made her Melrose District spot the epicenter of Indian fry bread, which serves as a soft and filling blanket for homemade refried pinto beans with cheese and lettuce.

Taco Chelo
501 E Roosevelt St, Phoenix, AZ 85004 – 602.368.5316

While most are drawn to the Instagram bait that covers the walls, Monterrey-born Chef Suny Santana does an impressive job bringing the taqueria flavors to trendy Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix. A classic carne asada will satisfy, thanks to the handmade flour or corn tortillas, but the barbacoa is what makes the trip worth it — especially with some frijoles a la charra or chicharrones on the side.

Barrio Cafe
2814 N 16th St #1205, Phoenix, AZ 85006 – 602.636.0240

Alongside Chris Bianco, Barrio Cafe’s Silvana Salcido Esparza is the face of the Phoenix food scene. The James Beard Award winner has gone against the grain of the usual northern Mexican food in the Valley with Barrio Cafe, which features an array of Mexico’s southern delicacies. While her chiles en nogada (a traditional stuffed poblanos dish) have become synonymous with her cooking, Esparza’s Tecate-battered fish tacos are crisp but light, making them a must-have dish.

Crujiente Tacos
3961 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018 – 602.687.7777

Chef Richard Hinojosa has said that his Arcadia joint isn’t a Mexican restaurant. Upon first glance at the menu, his statement rings true: Hinojosa’s innovative take on dishes include a Korean fried chicken taco topped with gochujang and mojo de cebollin (a sauce made from chives), and handmade tortillas fused with ingredients like cilantro or cardamom. The potato taco is equally noteworthy thanks to its legitimately spicy taste, which stems from a secret hot sauce and mashing of poblano chiles in the potato.

Tacos Huicho
1941 E Oak St, Phoenix, AZ 85006 – 480.398.6766

If a taco shop’s litmus test is how nondescript the location seems, Tacos Huicho takes the cake. Situated in a dead-end street against the massive wall of the 51 freeway, Cuernavaca natives Maria Torres and Mauricio Mena make the best al pastor in the city. The couple layers their pork with chiles and pineapples and throws it on the spit twice a week to roast and carve, where it can weigh up to 80 pounds.

La Santisima
1919 N 16th St, Phoenix, AZ 85006 – 602.254.6330

Maybe it’s because owners Felipe Guzman and Cristina Meillon are from Guadalajara, one of the most metropolitan cities in Mexico, that La Santisima offers such a wide array of regional dishes. The seemingly endless menu options, huge salsa bar, and gigantic servings may be overwhelming at first, but it’s hard to go wrong. Noteworthy tacos include the Andalucia, with potato and chorizo, the Baja Sur dogfish shark taco, or some surprisingly impressive vegan and vegetarian options like La Condesa, with poblano and mushrooms.

Cocina 10 at Crescent Ballroom
308 N 2nd Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85003 – 602.716.222

Pizza legend Chris Bianco’s time in Phoenix has rubbed off on him, and it can be seen in his development of the menu at downtown Phoenix’s Crescent Ballroom. The music venue and bar offers Mexican food that can stack up against any taqueria, with standouts like the barbacoa, al pastor, or fish tacos. Regardless of the order, ask for their molcajete salsa, always perfectly mixed with a kick.

Ta Carbon
2929 N 43rd Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85019 – 602.682.7701

Ta’Carbon is almost worth visiting purely for its name, which is a play on words of the Mexican saying, “Está cabron” (used amongst friends to mean anything from “that’s awesome” to “that’s tough”). But the true reason people come to this westside restaurant is almost exclusively for the carne asada. Behind a flurry of employees at the counter, heaps of smoky, well-cut carne are piled onto tacos from the mesquite. This can only be improved by ordering the Taco Hazz, a mix of melted cheese and green chile.

Tacos Jalisco
3060 N 68th St, Scottsdale, AZ 85251 – 480.941.9095

Old Town Scottsdale is covered from head to toe in flashy restaurants that prefer to be labeled as “concepts,” so the traditional taqueria style of Tacos Jalisco is a welcome respite. Despite the growth of the surrounding area, the spot has been a neighborhood favorite since 1996, thanks to the Reyes family’s carne asada. Its standout taste is thanks to the red adobo salsa in which it’s cooked, though the family has refused to reveal how it’s made.

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