First developed in Mexico in the 18th century, the modest taco stands as one of the nation's most customizable and universally loved foods. It's easy to see why these delectable little pockets full of juicy meat, melty cheese, and tangy, peppery sauce have an entire day of the week dedicated to celebrating (and, of course, devouring) them. But in a food haven such as Phoenix, Arizona, every day can be Taco Tuesday. The city is home to a plethora of Mexican establishments, from fast-casual to fine dining, with most of these restaurants slinging tacos in all their glorious forms. From shrimp to chorizo and al pastor to pescado, there's a type of taco to please even the fussiest of foodies.
Located less than 200 miles from the Mexican border, the bustling Arizona city of Phoenix is an obvious choice for authentic Mexican fare in the U.S. In this list, we'll showcase a varied selection of taco-centric eateries adored by both tourists and locals. These restaurants make a flavorful contribution to the community by demonstrating the delights of Mexican cuisine throughout the city, transcending cultural boundaries to unite everyone and celebrate the unquestionably perfect food known as tacos.
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Located in the heart of the city, Ta'Carbon is a fast-casual eatery boasting the freshest carne asada in the entire nation — a brazen claim, but one that the restaurant's diehard customers can attest to. Don't let the establishment's casual atmosphere fool you; Ta'Carbon's tacos rival those of Phoenix's finer Mexican joints with a budget-friendly price to boot. There's no such thing as a quiet hour at Ta'Carbon. The restaurant is bustling non-stop, but the service is always prompt and professional.
Patrons can indulge in Ta'Carbon's salsa bar, which boasts a wide variety of spicy sauces and other toppings like red onions, lime wedges, and pickled carrots. Use these sauces to spice up a carne asada taco –- specifically, the Taco Hazz. This big, beefy bite is absolutely brimming with meat, green chilies, and gooey Mexican cheese. Unlike some of Ta'Carbon's competitors, only a couple of these tacos are enough for a filling lunch so that you can leave with a satiated appetite without emptying your wallet. Ta'Carbon is open daily for brunch, lunch, and dinner.
2929 N 43rd Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85019
Located in an unassuming neighborhood in south-central Phoenix, Kiss Pollos might be described as a hole-in-the-wall by tourists who stumbled upon it by chance. But after indulging in one of the restaurant's iconic pollo asado tacos, this place will forever be on your radar.
Truly perfect chicken can be hard to come by, but Kiss Pollos stands true to its name and delivers this juicy, succulent meat as it was meant to be: loaded with seasonings and grilled to perfection. Try the Kiss Papa taco –- a tortilla stuffed with grilled potatoes and Sinaloa-style marinaded chicken. Or indulge in the Vampiro if you're a lover of all things cheesy and crunchy. This taco is loaded with melted cheese and chopped chicken, all nestled in a crispy, fire-roasted corn tortilla. Kiss Pollos is open until 5 p.m. on weekdays and 2 p.m. on Saturdays but is closed on Sundays.
306 W Yavapai St, Phoenix, Arizona 85003
Although tacos are usually casual, that doesn't mean they must be cast aside when it comes to fine dining. Javier Verdugo opened Casa Corazon in 2018 after refurbishing an old cottage in central Phoenix. Everything in the restaurant's construction pays homage to a vibrant culture, from the art on the walls to the tile on the floors. The restaurant's small, intimate setting makes you feel as though you're awaiting a homecooked meal at a family gathering in Mexico. You can enjoy the aromas that fill the quaint dining room while sipping on a fresh, crisp, and spicy margarita made with cucumber and jalapeno.
Casa Corazon boasts an authentic Oaxacan-Yucatecan menu that showcases the versatility and unique flavors of Southern Mexican cuisine. Indulge in the flautas (aka crispy rolled tacos) or any number of classic tacos, including two types of shrimp fillings. Choose a homemade red or green sauce to accompany them, or, if you're feeling extra saucy, opt for a hearty dose of both, otherwise known as "Christmas style." Casa Corazon is open daily for lunch and dinner.
2637 N 16th St, Phoenix, Arizona 85006
Tacos Tijuana, with six locations in and around the valley, was voted "Best Tacos in Phoenix" by The Phoenix New Times in 2019, and not much has changed since. When the Torres family moved to Arizona from Mexico to open a modest taco stand in Peoria, they brought two decades of taco-selling experience with them. Arizonians immediately fell in love with the distinctive, authentic flavor of the Torres' food, tasting passion and dedication to the art of cooking in every juicy bite.
Tacos Tijuana's maxim is based on the belief that the humble taco was designed to serve as an affordable and quick lunch option for working-class people. The restaurant is proud to offer a simple menu with only two meat options: carne asada or al pastor. A taco may be less than $3, but each one teems with meat and veggies, all stuffed in a soft, warm tortilla. All tacos are served simply and deliciously, dressed with just cilantro, salsa, and onion. These simple additions complement the savory flavors of the meat, adding a touch of zest and freshness. Tacos Tijuana is open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner.
La Santisima combines sophistication with a laid-back atmosphere, offering a range of handcrafted dishes that Phoenix locals can't get enough of. The interior is adorned with beautiful Mexican art and charming, dangling light fixtures, providing a cozy yet elegant ambiance.
La Santisima is home to over two dozen gourmet a la carte tacos. Specialties include the Oaxacan black mole taco, served with your choice of protein. The sweet and nutty mole sauce pairs perfectly with tender chicken, but any choice of meat will prove to be savory and satisfying. For those who choose the plant-based path, La Santisima hosts a plethora of vegan options, like the chile en nogada taco, featuring a stuffed poblano pepper topped with walnut cream sauce, pomegranate, and a unique blend of herbs and spices. This taco acts as a tribute to Mexican independence, showcasing every color of the flag with pride. Mix and match your order, and then top your gallery of gourmet gastronomic creations with any sauce from the eatery's extensive list of homemade salsas.
4117 N 16th St, Phoenix, Arizona 85016
Tacos El Paisa
On Phoenix's outskirts, as well as in multiple locations around Arizona, lies Tacos El Paisa. This fast-casual gem exists as a beacon of quintessential Mexican fare. Whether you drop by in the morning for a breakfast burrito or choose to relax with an indulgent dinner, you'll savor dishes crafted from Arizona's freshest ingredients.
Tacos El Paisa offers traditional street food and innovative fusion dishes that cater to diverse tastes. The restaurant takes pride in presenting an eclectic range of specials, from classic Mexican menudo (spicy beef tripe stew) to its unique Pizzabirria, a Birria taco presented pizza-style in a crispy tortilla filled with beef and cheese. However, the highlight of Tacos El Paisa's menu is its extensive array of street tacos. With 12 distinct combinations, you're sure to discover a favorite. We recommend the Cabeza taco, featuring tender meat, fresh onions, herbs, and creamy cheese. Tacos El Paisa is open daily, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
1259 East Southern Ave, Mesa, Arizona 85204.
In 2019, partners Singh Sodhi and Juan Cornejo Pena founded Taco Boy's and imbued their establishments with a vivacious flare to reflect their personalities. It worked in their favor — as more locations began spawning across the valley, Taco Boys' fanbase grew stronger. The restaurant's whimsical name reflects its cool and cozy vibe, with graffiti art and a bold Mexican-American style. This taco joint is perfect for enjoying a quick, delicious bite and a refreshing, beverage.
The owners live up to their name, providing Phoenix with some of the city's best and beefiest tacos. Choose between carne asada, pollo, tripa, cabeza, pastor, or barbacoa to fill your tortilla. The restaurant famously fills its tacos to the brim while maintaining a low price point. Taco Boy's also specializes in meals for large groups, providing a lengthy catering menu with affordable deals. Every Taco Boy's location operates daily, shutting down at 10 p.m. during weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends. Drop in for drinks and a late dinner if you want to experience Phoenix-style nightlife.
The Fry Bread House
As the most unconventional spot on our list of taco-slinging establishments, The Fry Bread House is not to be missed. The restaurant was opened by Cecilia Miller, a woman of the Tohono O'odham Nation and a lifelong Arizona resident, and has been serving the Phoenix area since 1991. Since then, the Native community of Phoenix -– many of whom were displaced from their ancestral homes -– have had a place to gather and share a meal.
The Fry Bread House soon became a household name in Phoenix, serving people of all backgrounds and giving those unfamiliar with indigenous cuisine a delicious taste of dishes that had existed long before Arizona was a U.S. state. The restaurant, winner of the James Beard Foundation's 2012 America's Classic award, serves its namesake tacos in a multitude of styles. Although these tacos –- made with traditional fluffy fry bread specific to indigenous American culture –- differ from conventional tacos, The Fry Bread House serves them with a unique Mexican flare. Get your tacos stuffed with refried beans and beef, topped with spicy hatch chilies, and savor a delectable taste of a rich and diverse local culture. The Fry Bread House is open from Tuesday through Saturday for lunch and dinner.
4545 N 7th Ave, Phoenix, Arizona 85013
Pepe's Taco Villa
Considered one of Phoenix's best-kept secrets, this charming eatery serves traditional tacos in an authentic environment to make you feel as if you were settled into a cozy Mexican village. The restaurant was established in 1981 and has accumulated a diehard customer base ever since. Almost every traditional option is available at Pepe's, from burritos and chimichangas to a wide selection of house specialties, including fajitas, skirt steak, and beef ribs. To accompany the enticing menu, Pepe's famously serves $5 house margaritas that rival Phoenix's artisanal options.
Pepe's culinary expertise goes far beyond conventional tacos; the restaurant's meticulous preparation and use of premium ingredients have solidified its standing in the Valley of the Sun. For an extraordinary dinner, consider the Taco Monterrey, a savory blend of dried beef, eggs, and flavorful chilies nestled in housemade flour tortillas topped with tomatoes and onions. Pepe's Taco Villa is open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner.
2108 W Camelback Rd, Phoenix, Arizona 85015
Presidio Cocina Mexicana
When time-honored cooking convenes with modern, made-from-scratch recipes, you're left with Presidio Cocina Mexicana. Centrally located and considered one of Phoenix's best Mexican restaurants, the restaurant gained notoriety by providing Phoenicians with Michoacán-inspired food derived from old family recipes, putting a twist on the Mexican food that Americans already know and love.
Situated modestly in a strip mall, Presidio Cocina Mexicana may seem unassuming from the outside. Still, locals are well aware that its humble exterior belies the exceptional quality of its cuisine. Try a taco made with housemade Mexican chorizo or the Cochinita Pibil taco loaded with braised pork and chile de Arbol salsa. For vegetarians, the restaurant offers a delicious taco made with grilled peppers, onions, and homemade guacamole. Presidio Cocina Mexicana is open Tuesday through Saturday for brunch, lunch, and dinner, and Sundays for lunch. The restaurant closes on Monday.
519 W Thomas Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85013
A downtown Phoenix fixture, Baja Roots is owner Chef Emilene Carrillo's testament to her Mexican ancestry while serving as a lesbian-owned safe space for the LGBTQ community. Her cuisine represents her passion for authenticity, and in a city brimming with Mexican-fusion eateries, consistently shines as a representation of quintessential Mexican flavor and flare.
The most noteworthy menu item at Baja Roots is easily the Birria taco, voted the best Birria in Arizona by AZ Central. The flavor is unmatched, with slow-cooked meat braised to perfection that melts in your mouth, making every savory bite taste like a vacation in Tijuana. Try the Birria ramen with your taco to get a double dose of melty beef and cheese, complete with heat and expertly seasoned. Visit the brick-and-mortar restaurant and try one of the restaurant's famous pink tacos, or stay on the lookout for pop-ups around the city. Baja Roots, which currently operates out of Jobot Coffee & Bar and Cobra Arcade Bar, is open Tuesday through Sunday for brunch, lunch, and dinner.
It's nearly impossible to find a Phoenix local who hasn't had the pleasure of taking a delicious dive into a taco from Tacos Chiwas. The original restaurant's location opened less than a decade ago by Nadia Holguin and Armando Hernandez and quickly established itself as a Phoenix landmark. The restaurant has since expanded to include three locations, all paying homage to a cultural cuisine that cemented itself in the city long ago.
Select from either handmade corn tortillas or flour and explore numerous combinations. We suggest trying the Lengua taco, crafted with beef tongue, cilantro, and onions for a straightforward yet flavorful choice. If veggies are your vibe, the vegetable-laden Calabacitas taco offers a delightful mix of grilled Mexican squash, corn, onion, and Asadero cheese. The barbacoa taco is another standout option, featuring meat slow-cooked to perfection for a tender and tantalizing taco that surpasses the ordinary. Tacos Chiwas in Phoenix is open every day for brunch, lunch, and dinner.
Taco Guild might not initially strike you as a typical restaurant. Nestled in a tranquil area in central Phoenix, this taco establishment resides within a picturesque building that served as a Methodist Church long ago. Dating back to 1893, the church has been repurposed to accommodate this renowned taco-slinging venue. Beautiful memorabilia from the building's history is tastefully displayed throughout the restaurant — you'll even find echoes of its past at the bar, which is ironically fashioned to resemble an altar.
The elegant atmosphere at Taco Guild acts as the perfect accompaniment to the restaurant's next-level food. Indulge in the duck confit taco for a unique, upscale spin on a simple dish. The charred octopus taco dominates as a one-of-a-kind option in the city and, therefore, is a must-try. Perhaps the most iconic taco at Taco Guild is the chipotle cherry steak taco. This beefy bite includes chipotle cherry glazed skirt steak, bleu cheese, and poblano peppers, all nestled in a toasty tortilla. Taco Guild is open every day for lunch and dinner.
546 E Osborn Rd, Phoenix, Arizona 85012
The Beach House
The Beach House -– formally The Two Hippies Beach House before it was purchased by corporate chef John Lichtenberg -– is known in Phoenix for its dedication to funky style and a no-frills attitude. The restaurant was initially established in 2007 and reopened under new management in 2013, continuing its longstanding reputation for serving quality food promptly and in a simple but eccentric setting.
The establishment is a roadside taco stand accompanied by an old VW bus as a nod to the "hippie" theme of its past. The Beach House's menu exudes a SoCal vibe, offering a variety of fish tacos and vegetarian options. Notably, the Baja shrimp taco stands out as the eatery's top seller. These tacos are packed with plump and juicy shrimp and deliver a robust kick of heat, making them a solid choice for those who appreciate bold flavors. Try the marinated prickly pear cactus tacos if you're vegan or the melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork tacos if you're not. The Beach House is open Monday through Saturday for brunch, lunch, and dinner.
501 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, Arizona 85012
Tacos Sahuaro, located in scenic East Camelback Village, is viewed as a hidden gem among Phoenix locals. The unpretentious fast-casual joint stands out among many similar options in the city by serving consistently delicious tacos quickly and for a great price, rivaling some lesser imitations.
There's nothing flashy or gimmicky at Tacos Sahuaro –- just tacos made simple and delectable. The restaurant offers nine protein choices for its tacos, each made in traditional Mexican fashion. Try the carnitas taco, which serves up Mexican-style pulled pork in a sweet and slightly tangy sauce. The chicken tacos are stuffed with tender meat and come simply dressed so that you can load them up with various housemade salsas and crisp, fresh toppings. Come in early and try a steak and egg taco for a gourmet breakfast without the high-end price. Tacos Sahuaro is open every day but Wednesday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
2320 N 32nd St, Phoenix, Arizona 85008
A compilation of taco spots wouldn't be complete without an effortlessly chic venue catering to the city's vibrant and youthful community. CRUjiente Tacos' stylish ambiance, marked by high ceilings, subdued lighting, and exposed brick, creates an atmosphere of refined elegance that invites you to linger well into the night. The establishment attracts both locals and tourists with a lively happy hour and enticing taco deals.
As the grand champion of the Arizona Taco Festival two years in a row, CRUjiente Tacos has a lot to brag about. Its menu is eclectic yet unpretentious, boasting an array of taco options that feature a fun and unconventional Korean-Mexican fusion of flavors. Try the Korean fried chicken or the red curry grilled pork belly taco for an innovative take on a dish you know and love. CRUjiente Tacos is open every evening for dinner except Sunday.
3961 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, Arizona 85018
Read the original article on Tasting Table.