Searching for Phoenix’s Primo Taco

Editor
By Editor February 16, 2016 10:37

Searching for Phoenix’s Primo Taco

By: Brian Garrido

Definitely Hecho en México, but brought to the Sonoran desert in the early 20th century, the popularity of the taco in the Valley has reached epic proportions. Tacos are everywhere – at your local taquería, corner stands, and even five-star dining. You’ll find tacos at the breakfast table, served as a snack at a “madre-y-padre” restaurant, or made into a chic dinner at home. We love tacos, so we asked a selection of noted Valley food bloggers to select a few of their own taco raves:

Christina Barrueta, Write-on Rubee: My favorite tacos are al pastor, and my favorite spot to find them is cash-only Super Tacos Los Cuais, tucked away in a strip mall in Glendale. Thin slices of pork are marinated in an adobo of dried chilies and spices, and then stacked onto a spinning vertical spit (or trompo) and topped with pineapple so that the meat is basted by its flavorful juices. Order a plate of $1.75 tacos and your handmade tortilla will be piled high with tender meat carved off the trompo and crisped up on the griddle, then served with salsa, lime, radish, cilantro, and onion. Tip: Ask for al pastor con piña to ensure the wonderful combination of chile-spiced charred pork and sweet pineapple.

David Bickford, PHX Rail Food: Paz Cantina set up shop at Third Street and Roosevelt in late 2014 only to be demolished a year later in order to make way for a new apartment building. Paz will have a new home in that building, but construction will take over a year. In the interim, Paz is operating a food truck found at various locations in downtown Phoenix. Paz offers all sorts of tacos, including standards such as carne asada, tinga, and carnitas; but there are also specials such as grouper, salmon, pork belly, and rajas. The last is a meatless choice with far more to offer than the standard veggie taco. The meat fillings are accentuated with flavorful touches such as pickled onions. Until the new restaurant is built, look for Paz’s tacos, burritos, tortas, quesadillas, posole, and brunch items in and around Roosevelt Row. Follow the truck on Facebook for the latest on its location and hours.

Tacos from Paz Cantina

Tacos from Paz Cantina

Diana Brandt, Arizona Foodie: I am crazy for Gadzooks! Give me two street tacos with Modelo braised bison at lunch or guajillo braised short ribs for dinner and I’m happy. The meats are braised until tender, and I opt to put them on top of Gadzooks scratch-made half-and-half corn flour tortillas. I’m no purist, so I’ll add uncle Rico’s pico, scratch-made crema, crumbled cotija cheese, lots of pickled onion, and a drizzle of jalapeño ranch sauce and Gadzooks buttermilk. These beauties are packed with flavor and gone in a few minutes.

Brian Garrido, AZLatinos.com: I love creative takes on tacos. It’s all in the meat and the tortilla. Therefore, I love the carne asada taco at Joyride. It’s a fusion of Asian and Mexican – salty from the soy sauce, with orange juice for a bight, fresh flavor, and of course the chopped ribeye. I know Joyride’s Chicken Taco won Best and People’s Choice at Arizona’s Taco Festival 2015, but I definitely prefer this one. I also have an unshakable adoration for breakfast tacos. Arizona Biltmore’s Frank & Albert’s breakfast taco needs a shout-out too. The housemade chorizo, the cheese, the scrambled eggs… Sure, it’s a little gringo-like, but still a fun spin on the taco.

Joyride Taco House

Joyride Taco House

David Tyda, Founder of the Arizona Taco Festival: I’m always on the hunt for good tacos; not just as research for my Arizona Taco Festival, but because I love tacos more than anyone. The best carne asada can be found at Otro Café, where flavorful ribeye is marinated in cola before getting grilled, diced, and placed on what I believe to be the best tortilla in town. The best al pastor comes off a trompo at Taqueria El Fundador, an authentic, family-owned joint on the west side. I’ve always preferred grilled fish tacos until I tried the breaded version at Joyride. It’s the freshest tasting fish taco in town. The best chicken taco can be found at Gadzooks. Get it with a 50/50 corn/flour tortilla and add cornbread stuffing before topping it with picked red onions. Weird, but worth it. And the best cochinita pibil comes from the funky Most Wanted Taco Shop. Every taco they serve is the bomb, but this one is a life-changer.

Chicken Taco from Gadzooks

Chicken Taco from Gadzooks

Taryn Rosenblum Jeffries, PhoenixBites: Salmon is not typically a protein that would be associated with tacos, but it works so beautifully in the salmon smokehouse taco at Bootleggers. The salmon is light and fresh, and with the house made boot aioli – when paired with the crazy fresh pico – creates a symphony of harmonious flavors. At the Otro Café, the pork belly tacos have the richness of slow roasted heritage pork belly that dances on your tongue with a slightly sweet citrus glaze. Then, they top that off with a spiced relish and some cool, creamy avocado. The sweet, briny, and creamy contrast results in everything a taco should be. And finally, all of the tacos at Wadaa Street Tacos are as close as you’re going to get to that authentic Mexican street taco experience without crossing the border. You can smell the smoke from their grill blocks away, and it will draw you in like the pied piper. With a straight-forward and uncomplicated menu, you’ll find that you have an even more difficult time making a decision. The steak taco, however, is an epic street taco experience – with its rich, buttery flavor and texture… you’ll be sticking around to order again and again.

Pork Belly Tacos at Otro Café

Pork Belly Tacos at Otro Café

Editor
By Editor February 16, 2016 10:37

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