Food & Drink

Here's Every Single Taco You Have to Try in the Valley

Published On 06/07/2016 Published On 06/07/2016
Diego Pops

Diego Pops

Old Town Scottsdale

Diego Pops was one of the big winners at the 2015 Arizona Taco Festival, so it's probably worth checking out. If you do (and you should), order up the braised pineapple pork taco. It wonderfully mixes the tropical flavor of pineapple relish with a smoky pork -- kind of like the name suggests. While a simple choice, that cotija cheese and house slaw topping takes it to a whole new level.

Joyride Taco House

Joyride Taco House

Central Phoenix

This is one of the simpler, yet satisfying, tacos in the Valley. Featuring chicken, avocado, Mexican slaw, and just the right amount of spice from the aji amarillo, the Standard is made on a corn tortilla and comes in at just under $4. Sure, it's... standard, but dammit, it's worth it.

America's Taco Shop

America's Taco Shop

Phoenix

It’s hard to go wrong with classic carne asada. Even when it's bad, it's still pretty good. But this one takes it to the next level, thanks to America's Taco Shop's commitment to using authentic family recipes, perfectly sautéed onions, and citrus marinade.

Blanco Tacos & Tequila

Blanco Tacos + Tequila

Scottsdale

Blanco Tacos + Tequila might not be where you go for the most authentic tacos in town, but the ingredients it uses do make for a damn tasty taco, especially the chipotle shrimp, house-chopped cabbage, pico de gallo, and fresh lime. It's zesty, it's spicy, and it's worth every penny.

Modern Margarita

Modern Margarita

North Phoenix

Modern Margarita flawlessly lives up to its name with every dish. It adds a modern twist to everything on the menu, from the tacos to the margaritas (and even the burgers). A perfect example: the fish taco. It features beer-battered mahi mahi and lime-spiked aioli. Yes, there’s a time and place for a simple taco, but the complexities of this one are too good to pass up.

Otro Cafe

Otro Cafe

Central Phoenix

Veggies are often overlooked in the taco world. In fact, they’re usually just an addition. But not at Otro Café. This place boasts a great veggie taco that's never exactly the same (read: the ingredients change), so you'll never be bored with the same old creation.

Barrio Café

Central Phoenix

It’s hard to decide which of Barrio's tacos are the best because all of them are just that good. But the fresh cabbage, avocado, and beer-battered fish in this joint's fish taco truly do deserve some praise. In a sea of fish tacos (HA!), it's hard to stand out. But this one does.

Retaurant Atoyac

Restaurant Atoyac

Glendale

If you’re looking for authentic Mexican food and tacos that'll make you forget you’re still in the US, head on over to Restaurant Atoyac. Among the great options are the Tacos de Lengua, which translates to -- yikes! -- cow tongue. BUT WAIT. Don't scroll yet. Hear us out: it tastes much better than you think. Seriously. Live a little! It's only $2.25, anyway.

The Stand

Arcadia

The Stand's chicken taco is so fresh, you can practically taste each individual ingredient used to make it. It's stuffed with pickled red onion, queso, and fresh cilantro, and placed on a warm tortilla. Both the freshness and portion size are unprecedented, and the speed at this authentic restaurant is incredibly impressive. So if you're famished and in need of a taco now, here's your pick.

La Santisima Gourmet Taco Shop

La Santisima Gourmet Taco Shop

Glendale

This taco is simple, yet flavorful, and what's most exciting is that if you order it, you're eating a taco made from a shark. A beer-battered shark. One that tastes delicious, and not at all like chicken. Using locally sourced produce and tortillas imported directly from Mexico, La Santisima is as authentic as it gets. Come for the experience, or just to plot your revenge on a shark.

Taqueria Los Yaquis

Central Phoenix

These little grilled chicken tacos have the perfect mix of cilantro, salsa, and guacamole. Plus, at just a dollar, the price is beyond right.

Urban Taco

Urban Tacos

Central Phoenix

This wouldn’t be a proper taco bucket list without some unusual picks, and this gourmet asada taco is almost as unusual as it gets (it's no cow tongue, but still weird). It's of octopus origin, and combines that with cilantro aioli and cucumber salsa. Just trust us, it's worth the try.

Taco Guild

Central Phoenix

This steak taco is topped with bleu cheese and chile aioli. It might sound a little strange, but after one order it'll likely become your next go-to. Aside from the food, Taco Guild is also one of the hippest spots for Mexican food in Phoenix, thanks to the impressive cathedral-esque interior and a live DJ on Friday nights. So even if you don't like the taco you’re in for a fun time.

Two Hippies Beach House

Two Hippies Beach House

Central Phoenix

This eclectic hippie paradise boasts a beach vibe, an always-friendly staff, and some great food. The standout is this grilled fish taco, one of the freshest in the Valley -- and not just because of that ocean vibe. It's topped with (an addicting) chipotle mayo sauce, plenty of cheese, and pico de gallo, so be ready for a mouthful of flavor to come alongside the fish.

Speedy Street Tacos

Speedy Street Tacos

Phoenix

The breakfast taco proves that this food knows no boundaries. If you're in the vicinity of Speedy Street Tacos, you can get all different variations around the clock. There's a vast selection on the menu, but start with the egg, steak, and cheese taco. It's a safe bet. Of course, the plain egg & cheese and chicken versions aren’t bad, either.

Barrio Queen

Barrio Queen

Old Town Scottsdale

The cochinita pibil goes way beyond your typical pork taco. It's marinated in sour orange, which gives it that distinct citrus flavor. It's then topped with sour orange onions and perhaps the tastiest pico de gallo in town.

El Hefe

El Hefe

Old Town Scottsdale

Yes, El Hefe is a great option for a wild night out when you’re looking to drink a little more tequila than you should. But believe it or not, the restaurant also serves excellent food. Case in point: the chicken tinga taco. It offers a little bit of chorizo, some mango passion fruit salsa, and a dash of jicama relish.

Phoenix Burrito House

Central Phoenix

If you're a fan of that authentic green chili flavor, this particular taco is a no-brainer for a number of reasons: the sauce is incredible; the pork is tender; and the combination of flavors in the soft corn tortilla is about as good as it gets.

LuLu's Taco Shop

Lulu’s Taco Shop

Gilbert

These tacos are arguably the most authentic you’ll find in Gilbert. They’re made from traditional family recipes that have been perfected over the last 20 years. The shrimp tacos are simple and straight-up, with plenty of shrimp and just enough vegetables. So if you want that "authentic" taco in Gilbert, you've found it.

The Henry

Arcadia

The Henry heirloom quinoa tacos are a vegetarian's dream. The combination of corn, avocado, quinoa, and black beans is a surprisingly delicious mix, one that's more hearty and filling than your typical veggie taco. It's probably not enough to convert a hardcore carnivore to the veggie scene, but it'll definitely satisfy them for a while.

The Coronado

The Coronado

Phoenix

You certainly don't have to be a vegetarian to enjoy a good vegan restaurant -- or a vegan taco. Even carnivores won't be able to get enough of The Coronado's potato taco. Topped with cotija cheese and a cilantro-lime dressing, this thing might make you question your meat-eating habits… probably only for a few minutes. Afterwards, you can tell all your friends how you "went vegan" that one time.

Mi Patio

Central Phoenix

Mi Patio has been one of Arizona’s go-tos for Mexican food for over three decades, and this sour cream beef taco is partially why. It's simple, sure, but it's also a staple. This taco is full of flavor, packed with delicious beef and topped with lettuce and cheese (and tomatoes, and onions, if you ask nicely).

SumoMaya

SumoMaya

Scottsdale

Just when you thought you've seen nearly every kind of taco imaginable, something comes along and shocks you. Such is the case with SumoMaya's sesame ginger chicken taco. It hits the perfect combination of Mexican-Asian fusion, mixing Asian-inspired chicken with traditional Mexican flavors (avocado and chili coleslaw). If you thought you've tasted it all, think again.

The Mission

The Mission

Scottsdale

Each taco at The Mission is handmade, created with top-quality ingredients, and tastes as delicious as can be. And while the menu as a whole is notable, the pork shoulder taco is the star. Featuring beef that's been smoked and braised, and a spicy pineapple glaze, this taco is a definite can't-miss. So really, don't.

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1. Diego Pops 4338 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251 (Old Town Scottsdale)

Although this Old Town Scottsdale Mexican eatery is catering to the night owl crowd with its late night menu (think a la carte tacos), it also has plenty to offer during the daylight hours. Decked out with requisite houseplants, mid century modern seating, and neon signage, Diego Pops serves up creative Mexican fare (think braised pineapple tacos, poke, and Sonoran hot dogs) and boozy snow cones.

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2. Joyride Taco House 302 N Gilbert Rd, Gilbert, 85234

Bright and cheery Mexican joint with a '60s flair.

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3. America's Taco Shop 2041 N 7th St, Phoenix, AZ 85006

This small, family-owned Phoenix chain doles out authentic Mexican fare, such as carne asada and al pastor, which are made memorable thanks to America's Taco Shop's commitment to using authentic family recipes, perfectly sautéed onions, and citrus marinade. Also on the menu are homemade guacamole, fresh salsa and homemade beans, along with traditional Mexican beverages.

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4. Blanco Tacos + Tequila 2502 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016 (Biltmore)

You know exactly what you’re going to get when you visit Blanco Tacos + Tequila; the name is pretty direct. There are approximately a million tequila choices available with which you can create a billion variations on the margarita, and its modern-Mexican dishes cut back on the grease and lighten things up with the freshest vegetables and cheeses.

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5. Modern Margarita 5410 E High St #115, Phoenix, AZ 85054 (North Phoenix)

With 12 different margarita options, house cocktails, and a variety of beers and wines, there’s something that will please everyone at Modern.

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6. Otro Cafe 6035 N 7th St, Phoenix, AZ 85014

This vibrant, relaxed spot in Central Phoenix is known for it's casual Mexican fare and, local beers, and signature cocktails. In addition to standards like ceviche, queso fundido, and burritos, this place boasts a great veggie taco that's never exactly the same (read: the ingredients change), so you'll never be bored with the same old creation. Be sure to pair your meal with a discounted daily happy hour drink.

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7. Barrio Cafe 2814 N 16th St, Phoenix, AZ 85006 (Uptown Phoenix)

Barrio Café’s brand of Mexican food is the central-southern, give-your-mouth-a-red-chile-burn, hearty stuff that’s spiced up by local culinary legend Silvana Salcido Esparza with some French influences for good measure. Esparza’s chips and dip are too precious to merely dole out as a precursor to the meal; instead, diners enjoy crust French bread with an olive tapenade accompaniment. The menu features salads, tacos, tortas, enchiladas, pan-seared fish, and bone-in meats, and highlights include the acclaimed Cochinita Pibil, pork marinated in achiote and sour orange, wrapped in a banana leaf and slow roasted overnight, and topped with pickled red onion and Yucatan-style pico de gallo, and Filete Mignon de mi Tita, topped with a crab and queso de cabra mélange. You’ll have a hard time choosing a favorite dish, let alone finding a flaw in any of plates that grace your table. So don’t even bother; simply relish the spread in front of you.

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8. Restaurant Atoyac Estilo Oaxaca 1830 W Glendale Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85021 (Glendale)

If you’re looking for authentic Mexican food and tacos that'll make you forget you’re still in the US, head on over to Restaurant Atoyac. Among the great options -- which are all traditional, Oaxacan street food are the Tacos de Lengua, which translates to cow tongue (don't know it until you try it). If that's not your style, get the carne asada tacos, quesadilla, or masa fritters with potato and chorizo

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9. The Stand 3538 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018 (Arcadia)

This Arcadia joint has a pretty limited menu, but once you've tried its burgers, tacos, fries, and corn, A) you've tried basically everything, and B) you won't need any other options to be satisfied.

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10. La Santisima Gourmet Taco Shop 5932 W Glendale Ave, Glendale, AZ 85301 (Glendale)

La Santisma blends traditional Mexican food from around the country with the family’s own special take on Southwestern cuisine. They use local farm produce and tortillas imported from Mexico to achieve the most authentic, fresh flavor possible.

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11. Taqueria Los Yaquis 705 W Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85013

The Central Phoenix location of this popular is known for it's cheap, standard Mexican fare, including quesadillas, "super mega nachos," and burritos. Taqueria Los Yaquis' little grilled chicken tacos have the perfect mix of cilantro, salsa, and guacamole. Plus, at just a dollar, the price is beyond right. This spot also supplies hotdogs, hamburgers, and horchata.

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12. Urban Taco 6522 N 16th St, Phoenix, AZ 85016

Inspired by Mexican street food, this familiar, modern eatery dishes out favorites like salsa flights, "urban" and "gourmet" tacos -- with proteins like chicken, braised pork, and octopus, hearty burritos, and cocktails. A trip to Urban Taco isn't complete without trying one of the margaritas, which come in a variety of flavors: classic, moonshine, and prickly, to name a few.

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13. Taco Guild 546 E. Osborn Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85012

If you’re looking for the finest tequila in a beautiful setting, look no further than Taco Guild. Quality is king here so you can be confident your drink, whether you opt for straight tequila or a margarita, is the best The Valley has to offer. And if you want to build a base before your booze, the fantastic Mexican eats here should do the trick.

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14. Two Hippies Beach House 501 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85012

This eclectic hippie paradise boasts a beach vibe, an always-friendly staff, and some great food. The standout is this grilled fish taco, one of the freshest in the Valley -- and not just because of that ocean vibe. It's topped with (an addicting) chipotle mayo sauce, plenty of cheese, and pico de gallo, so be ready for a mouthful of flavor to come alongside the fish.

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15. speedy street tacos 25 N 40th St, Phoenix, AZ 85034

Although this casual spot offers all of the Mexican standards -- steak tacos, carne asada, and quesadillas, the breakfast taco proves that this food knows no boundaries. If you're in the vicinity of Speedy Street Tacos, you can get all different variations around the clock. There's a vast selection on the menu, but start with the egg, steak, and cheese taco. It's a safe bet. Of course, the plain egg & cheese and chicken versions aren’t bad, either.

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16. Barrio Queen 7114 E Stetson Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85251 (Old Town Scottsdale)

Barrio Queen has it all –- uniquely Southwest, yet also authentically Mexican dishes, a hip atmosphere, and a lot of variety, especially if you’re looking for a great margarita. The award-winning restaurant also has some great deals, and you can look forward to a great weekday happy hour, Margarita Mondays, and Taco Tuesdays.

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17. El Hefe Scottsdale 4425 N Saddlebag Trl, Scottsdale, AZ 85251 (Old Town Scottsdale)

This lively bar/Mexican restaurant in Old Town Scottsdale slings excellent food. Case in point: the chicken tinga taco. It offers a little bit of chorizo, some mango passion fruit salsa, and a dash of jicama relish. El Hefe is also a perfect venue for a night out, featuring Djs, a battalion of 20 oz margaritas, and a famous "Bulldog Garita" -- a 32 oz house margarita with a 7 oz Dos XX.

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18. Phoenix Burrito House 4140 N 7th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85013

Overstuffed, hearty burritos are offered at this no frills Mexican joint, along with South of the Border-inspired breakfast options, tacos, and quesadillas. And if you're a fan of that authentic green chili flavor, the pork taco in particular is a no-brainer for a number of reasons: the sauce is incredible; the pork is tender; and the combination of flavors in the soft corn tortilla is about as good as it gets.

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19. Lulu's Taco Shop 610 N Gilbert Rd Ste 303, Gilbert, AZ 85234 (Gilbert)

The tacos at this fast-casual, colorful Mexican spot are arguably the most authentic you’ll find in Gilbert. They’re made from traditional family recipes that have been perfected over the last 20 years. The shrimp tacos are simple and straight-up, with plenty of shrimp and just enough vegetables. So if you want that "authentic" taco in Gilbert, you've found it. Mixed drinks and domestic and imported beers are also available.

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20. The Henry 4455 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018 (Arcadia)

This American standby in the heart of Arcadia is perfect for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with its homemade pastries, American comfort-style dishes, and carefully-crafted cocktails. Menu highlights include cauliflower polenta, grilled cheese, and, for dessert, the croissant bread pudding. The adjacent coffee bar -- aptly named The Henry Coffee Bar: XV -- supplies a variety of blends for any palate.

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21. The Coronado 2201 N 7th St, Phoenix, AZ 85006

Built in the interior of a converted farmhouse, The Coronado is an idyllic restaurant for vegetarians and their dogs. Dishes like jalapeño waffles and rosemary-mushroom-gravy-topped biscuits make it easy to forget the absence of bacon or sausage on the brunch menu, and the afternoon fare, featuring grilled street corn and fried guacamole, is equally filling and delicious. Cocktails and food both come at great prices during the restaurant's daily happy hour, and the extensive cocktail (and mocktail) menu is replete with drinks crafted exclusively with house-made syrups.

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22. Mi Patio 3347 N 7th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85013

Mi Patio has been one of Arizona’s go-tos for Mexican food for over three decades, and for good reason: this family-owned joint supplies some of the best traditional Mexican dishes in the area, including chile relleno, tacos, and tostadas. Be sure to try the sour cream beef taco -- it's simple, sure, but it's also a staple. This taco is full of flavor, packed with delicious beef and topped with lettuce and cheese

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23. SumoMaya 6560 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85253 (North Scottsdale)

At this Scottsdale spot, you can go for a traditional sushi roll or mix it up with house creations, including a crispy pork belly roll with sweet and sour plums, chicharron, and a Brussels sprout slaw. Add that to a great brunch and late-night menu and craft cocktails, and you have the recipe for a diverse and interesting restaurant.

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24. The Mission 3815 N Brown Ave, Scottsdale, AZ 85251 (Old Town Scottsdale)

The Mission takes its name after the Old Adobe Mission just around the corner, and though, accordingly, it should be austere, The Mission opts for sin and offers decadent, indulgent Mexican street food and cocktails (which, though pricey, are certainly boozy enough to be worth the pretty penny). At least a dozen intricate chandeliers dangle from above, reflected in giant mirrors, adding up to unmistakable impressions of luxury and intimacy, only amplified by the glow of the tens of candles against the Himalayan salt block wall by the bar. After you’ve taken in the beauty of your surroundings, you’ll likely have worked up an appetite; the menu is extensive, so choose wisely from among the salads, soups, starters, handmade tacos, grilled meats and fish, sides, and, of course, desserts. We recommend the buttery pork shoulder tacos, smoked and braised for 12 hours and brushed with pineapple habanero glaze, as well as the malbec-braised short rib, with crispy queso fresco potatoes, red pepper chimichurri, olives, capers, and huancaina.

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