Where to Find the Best Mexican Food in Phoenix
These taquerias and restaurants are serving up Phoenix’s best tacos, spicy margaritas, nachos, burritos, and more.
The influences that Phoenix’s Latino American culture have on the city are both innumerable and invaluable. And the impact is especially apparent throughout Phoenix’s diverse and thriving culinary spaces. While we may not have a City of Gastronomy designation like our neighbors to the south, yet, these Valley restaurants sure deserve some love. And the best way to show your affection is by frequenting them when those cravings for quesabirria start to bubble up. From elevated takes on Mexican classics to sloppy, dippable, delicious street tacos, these Mexican spots are some of the best restaurants in Phoenix.
This Grand Avenue spot is climbing to the top of every discerning epicureans must-visit list. And for good reason, too. Bacanora is as real as it gets. Everything that finds its way to the table is fired to perfection over the kitchen’s wood grill. And there’s simply no shortage of flavor, literally and figuratively, oozing from the Grand Avenue spot. Its tight but well curated menus, vibrant atmosphere, and compact dining room set the scene for an unbeatable culinary experience. Bacanora effortlessly brings a taste of Sonora to this arts district neighborhood.
Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza’s Barrio Café is a master class in the art and retooled tradition of Mexican cooking. Barrio Café’s menu is brimming with elevated takes on popular staples, think tableside Guacamole sprinkled with pomegranate and an inventive version of Chiles en Nogada, a must-order for first timers and favorite among regulars, notably. Seriously, forget everything you thought you knew about Mexican food. The Calle 16 restaurant has been a pillar in the community since opening 2002 and today ranks among the best restaurants in the city, and the country.
Los Olivos Mexican Patio
Los Olivos Mexican Patio has a family history that goes beyond a century. Named for the olive trees that thrived in the area way back when, Los Olivos has survived the test of time since opening as a restaurant in the 1940s and remains the last surviving business of the redevelopment of the Scottsdale Barrio in the 1970s. This Old Town Scottsdale spot is a sort of time capsule where the history and the stories that have unfolded over the years here have been carefully preserved. From the restaurant’s iconic Blue Room to the artwork and intricate details at every turn, Los Olivos delights every single one of the senses, especially taste. Los Olivos’ handmade salsa washes over the palate, igniting a feverish appetite for what’s next to come—piping hot fajitas, Tacos al Carbon, sauced-up enchiladas, and packed-full platters, specifically.
You’re not seeing double. Tacos Chiwas is multiplying. The Chihuahua-style taco joint has expanded. And more tacos is always a good thing. This family-owned Mexican restaurant has a casual vibe. It’s the type of spot where you order at the counter—you can’t miss the order here sign. Also unmissable are Tacos Chiwas’ Barbacoa and Asada Tacos. And if you’ve still got room for more after cleaning your plates, get back in line and order the Tres Leches or reach for one of those traditional Chihuahuan Dessert Cones overfilled with sticky caramely goodness.
Casa Corazon Restaurant
Casa Corazon emerged on the scene in early 2018. And it’s practically unmissable, thanks to its vibrant exterior. Today, Casa Corazon complements the existing array of Latin restaurants that decorate Central Phoenix’s humming 16th Street. But its bright exterior isn’t the only reason this spot stands out from its neighbors. Casa Corazon puts their own spin on your favorite Mexican fare. The menu is festooned with elevated dishes inspired by Mexico’s southern region, including Enchiladas slathered in a purply beet sauce (green and red are on standby for the purists), citrusy Aguachiles, charred Chile Rellenos, and a shortlist of refreshing Agua Frescas. The sugar-dusted churros? Absolutely worth saving room for.
Aged in both American and French oak barrels and finished in port wine casks, 1800 Cristalino Tequila is an ultra-premium, crystal-clear añejo meant to celebrate life’s special moments with taste. So, this Cinco de Mayo, elevate your experience and raise a glass with 1800 Cristalino instead—your taste buds will thank you.
When Pachamama says that they’re entirely plant-based, it means that they are entirely plant-based. You won’t find any processed, fake meats on the menu here. Instead, you’ll find totally vegan takes on Mexican favorites like Burritos stuffed with tasty walnut chorizo and Hibiscus Asada Tacos drizzled with avocado crema. After seeking out quality vegan food in the city, and ultimately being dissatisfied with what was available at the time, co-owners Maria and Kevin Lebron sought out to create something new. And in 2018, Pachamama was born. The vegan spot began as a farmers market pop-up and today you can get your fill of plant-based noshes at their brick-and-mortar or out and about at fests, markets, and happenings across the Valley.
Testal Mexican Kitchen
One of the latest restaurants to swing open their doors along Grand Avenue, Testal Mexican Kitchen is a tribute of sorts to the culture and cuisines of Northern Mexico’s state of Chihuahua. Testal’s straightforward menu acquaints you with uncomplicated Chihuahuan staples, namely perfectly prepared burritos abundant with poblanos, pork, and potatoes, among other savory ingredients. And what’s a meal without a bev? Testal offers a short selection of unique housemade agua frescas, including a Roasted Corn Drink and a Chia and Lime Pick-Me-Up, that can keep you satiated.
Tacos are great. But tacos al carbon? Even greater. Cooked over fire, Taco Boys’ exhibition of flame-kissed tacos, vampiros, burritos, and quesadillas is nothing short of impressive. Varieties run the gamut from standbys like carne asada, pollo, pastor, and barbacoa to tripa, and cabeza. And you can dress up your order at the fully-stocked salsa bar. This fast-casual taco spot has two Valley locations. The latest, Taco Boys Tap Room, is just steps away from ASU campus. Tacos and beer? Say less.
Nothing hits better than a weekend breakfast burrito. And for the best, you’ve got to go find Mi Catering. A market favorite, Mi Catering can be found at the Downtown Phoenix Farmers Market slinging grilled burritos of the chorizo, chicken, carnitas, vegan, and breakfast-style varieties. Loaded full of eggs, potatoes, beans, and cheese, Mi Catering’s Breakfast Burrito is perfection wrapped in a tortilla. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, after all. For more, you can always order online. Mi Catering’s famous burritos, salsas, enchiladas, sides, and DIY tacos are just a click away.
It’s no apparition. Downtown Mesa recently welcomed a new dining spot, Espiritu. A product of the culinary savants who blessed us with Bacanora and Tacos Chiwas, Espiritu is a little sexier, a little more mischievous, and a whole lot boozier than its culinary cousins. Bottles on bottles of agave selections satiate the backlit bar. And a sapid spread of Mexican seafood dishes, think ceviches and aguachiles, pair oh-so nicely with Espiritu’s creative batch cocktails.
In the early days, this Mexican sandwich shop had just three items on the menu. Today, Tortas Paquime has seven locations across The Valley and far more than just three options to choose from. While Tortas Paquime may have outgrown its humble beginnings, the integrity and approach to Mexican cooking has remained unchanged. The tortas are made fresh each day and serve as vessels to hold proteins like Achiote-Marinated Pork and other tasty accouterments. The sandwiches undoubtedly steal the spotlight here. But that’s not to say that Tortas Paquime is just a sandwich shop. Burritos, nachos, Mexican hot dogs wrapped in bacon, flautas and tostadas, tacos, birra, and desserts like homemade flan complement Tortas Paquime’s unparalleled sandwich offering.
This trendy spot fits nicely into its Roosevelt Row arts district digs. The ultra-hip hangout is decked out with murals and eye-popping neon that set the vibe for what’s to come —tacos and a round of drinks, most likely. A collaboration between Chef Suny Santana, artist Gennaro Garcia, and restaurateur Aaron Chamberlin, Taco Chelo just does not miss. Rolled tacos, gooey quesadillas, crunchy chicharrones, and a procession of tacos delivered on handmade corn tortillas are just some of the tastebud pleasers you can choose from at Taco Chelo. And the margs? Order two.
The Original Carolina’s Mexican Food
Like burritos and tacos, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Don’t let the hole-in-the-wall demeanor of this tried-and-true Mexican food institution hold you back from experiencing the nirvana that is Carolina’s iconic, cheese-covered combo plates. The Original Carolina’s is famous for their incredible tortillas, rightfully so. Other main attractions like the crispy Chimichangas and footlong Chorizo Burritos are what keep Carolina’s devotees coming back again and again.
Not all, if any other, Mexican restaurants serve flapjacks all day. Gallo Blanco does. Mexican-born Chef Doug Robson’s Gallo Blanco checks the boxes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even brunch and happy hour. Go-tos include Gallo Blanco’s Chilaquiles, any ceviche, really, and the one-pound, Mesquite-Grilled Center-Cut Bisteca. Gallo Blanco reopened late last year in the historic Garfield neighborhood. And boy are we glad they did.
Taqueria El Fundador
Taqueria El Fundador has been perfecting their taco game since 1985. And these folks know their way around a trompo, too. The longstanding family-owned taqueria steals hearts by way of the stomach with their selection of street tacos, hefty burritos, enchiladas, tostadas, and new favorites like those craveable Birra Flautas.