Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Top 5 Taquerias in Phoenix


I don't know if you know this about me, but I'm OBSESSED with tacos. I'm not even kidding. I could eat tacos every day. I kind of did this past week while my dad was visiting. We went on a journey to find the best taco in Phoenix. While we only hit up 3 taquerias, I've been secretly creating this list and doing research for a while. It's time to reveal my favorite taquerias in the valley.

These are my own opinions and I wasn't paid to give these reviews. But it sure would've been nice to get payment in tacos! Is it possible to get sponsored by a taqueria? If it is, we need to chat. Like yesterday. Anyhoo, onto the best tacos in Phoenix. I've decided that the best tacos reside in Central/South Phoenix and the West Valley. I've yet to find tacos on the East Side that blew my mind. If you think there's a taco joint I'm missing on the East Side of town, come at me. I want to try this out. I will test it out in the name of science. Food science that is.

So here's my criteria for the best tacos in the valley: they have to be authentic tacos. Not hipster tacos. No offense to hipsters or hipster tacos. I want the real deal. The place where I need to order in espanol for the best experience. The basis of the taco has to be the tortilla and meat. Then let's add the fixings like cilantro, onions, salsa, lime, etc. Ya feel me? Ok now that we're on the same page, let's take a Taco tour through Phoenix.

#5: Tacos Chiwas - Phoenix, AZ
Tacos Chiwas is definitely a great taqueria, however, it is borderline hipster. Just going to throw that disclaimer out there. But taco quality is still pretty legit in order to make it to this Top 5 list. My favorite things are the carnitas, pastor, asada, pollo, frijoles charros (a delicious bean soup) and their jamaica. They serve them street style so the tortillas are small and you need at least 4 to feel full plus some of the bean soup which is off the chain. There's a salsa bar with lots of spicy salsas and roasted peppers to choose from.

It's a small location, so you better go during non-busy hours or prepare to wait in line for a seat. The first time I went it was right after they opened. Literally the same week. Since then, they've been featured in New Times Best Of and have won other taco awards. So it can't be that bad, right?!

#4: Taquerias El Chino - Phoenix, AZ
The options at this place are ridiculous. You can get pretty any type of Mexican food your little heart desires. But who am I kidding? I went for tacos. I really liked the variety of the meats that they offered, however, a lot of them were so juicy that it caused the tortillas to disintegrate. Aside from that, the flavors were amazing and they had a great salsa bar. I stuck to the not-so-spicy options and got my usual green tomatillo salsa and avocado because that's how I roll.

They are open during normal business hours. Normal as in 9-6 Monday through Sunday. Odd hours, but it could be due to the location over by Capitol Hill. I'm sure this place gets packed during the lunch and dinner hours. I went on a Saturday afternoon and it wasn't too bad of a wait. Bring your appetite because you're going to need it! These are regular sized tacos.  

#3: Tacos Sahauro - Phoenix, AZ
I stumbled upon this taqueria by accident. I used to work within a mile from it and never knew it existed until one day I ventured out during lunch on my own and found it. It is a total dive so I decided to check it out. The best food joints are usually the most divey places so don't judge the outer appearance!

GUYS. They make their tortillas! Even their corn tortillas! So you know right off the bat that these bad boys are going to be delish. They have the usual suspects: asada, pastor, pollo and then they have the crazy stuff like cabeza and lengua. They also have other non-taco options. I can't remember what they are at the moment, because TACOS. I tried pretty much all of the tacos including the cabeza and lengua because I'm adventurous like that.
They also make a variety of salsas ranging from mild to holy sh*t my mouth is on fire. Each plate is served with limes, cucumbers and radishes. Honorable mentions go to their variety of aguas frescas like Horchata and Jamaica (which is my favorite). This place definitely gives Tacos Huichos a run for their money.

#2: Tacos Huichos - Phoeniz, AZ
I originally came across Tacos Huichos at the Arizona Taco Festival last year as my last stop on the taco tour. I guess I saved the best for last because those tacos beat all the other tacos I had tried that day. I had quite a few of them before I ended up at their tent. So glad I did. The ridiculous wait in line was totally worth it.

This was the first stop on the taco journey while my dad was in town. I was going to prove that Phoenix had memorable Mexican food. We got there at a good time because it was after the lunch rush so we had the place to ourselves. It's in a weird location off of Oak Street & 20th Street right smack next to the 51 Freeway and Phoenix Children's hospital. The plaza had a convenience store, a closed laundromat and the taqueria. So don't judge a book by its cover or else you will be missing out on some bomb.com tacos.
They have a variety of meats to choose from. I went for the pastor, asada, pollo and the cecina compechanos (asada & pastor mixed). Again, these are street tacos so they are smaller than "normal" tacos. My dad got a few of the same kind. In addition to tacos, they also offer other options. I can't remember what they are at the moment because I was there for tacos. So yea. The salsa bar was also pretty decent. I went for the green tomatillo salsa with avocado and a mixed green salsa and of course limes.
Overall, Tacos Huichos make a legit taco. This is a lot closer to home than Ta Carbon which is my number one place for tacos. It's also very close to Tacos Chiwas, so if you go there and there's a long ass line you can always mosey on over to Tacos Huichos. But there is a reason it's my #2 on this list. It's definitely a mouf party and worth the 5 tacos I ended up inhaling. Oh yea, my dad and I ended up going for round two. I was so stuffed after.

#1: Ta Carbon - Glendale, AZ
My dad and I drove 40 minutes to get to this gem. FORTY minutes people. Who does that?! This girl and her dad. But we're used to driving all over the place for food. And guess what, it was totally worth it. We went to the original one on Camelback & 59th Avenue. We went right at the tail end of the lunch rush, so we decided to hit up the Goodwill in the same plaza and get our thrift store on. After we found some treasures and worked up an appetite, we headed over to the taqueria. The first thing you notice before you go in, is the smell. The grilled meat smell. My mouth started salivating the second I breathed that in. Once inside it overwhelms your senses, but in a good way. Like brace yourself for the mouf party that is about to ensue in your mouth.
I ordered for my dad I in Spanish. I got asada (steak), pastor (pork), chicken (pollo) and mixto (asada/pork). I can't remember what my dad got, but it was a combination of what I got. I ordered 4 because A.) I'm the hungry latina, B.) they're street tacos and C.) I have the appetite of a man. If you're feeling frisky, you can order lengua (tongue), tripa (tripe) or cabeza (head). They also have other options like burritos, quesadillas, etc. but if I'm driving 40 minutes, I'm getting tacos. I've tried the lengua and cabeza tacos and they are also fantastic. That day I decided to stick to the basics.
Their salsa bar also has a lot of variety. Sliced cucumbers, key limes, onion/cilantro mix, radishes, roasted jalapenos, pickled jalapenos/carrots, blended avocado, green/red salsas, pico de gallo and spicy salsas that will have you crying the next day if you know what I mean.
My dad and I were in unison that Ta Carbon was the best taqueria that we had visited the past couple of days. I knew this and that's why I saved the best for last. If you have a chance to go, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! DO IT. It is that good. You won't regret it. They even cater. So if you have a party with Ta Carbon catering and I don't get an invite, I'll be really, really, REALLY sad. Just sayin'.

Are there any taquerias that didn't make the list that you think should've? Let me know! I'm a food scientist and love to test things out in the name of science. 😎