My Favorite Yuma Mexican Restaurants
Yuma is full of good Mexican restaurants; many are very similar, most serve similar dishes, but there are three that I frequent most regularly, ones that I would recommend folks try.
The first is Los Manjares de Pepe, located on 8th St. between A & B across a side street from Grigson’s tack and saddle shop. Los Manjares located in an old house serves a wide range of well prepared Mexican dishes. I don’t believe I have ever been served something that was not at least good, and many dishes are excellent. The pollo al carbon, barbecued on premises, is well marinated and tasty, and the pollo plates with rice, beans, tortillas and two or four pieces of chicken are a great deal. And this barbecued chicken is also the main ingredient in all the chicken dishes like chicken burritos (the taco salad con pollo, not listed on the menu (ooops!), is supremely tasty too). Also, standard favorites, like burritos (plain or enchilada style), steak ranchero, lengua, chile verde or colorado, fajitas, camerones ranchero, etc. are all good. The daily specials, whether caldo de pollo, puerco in tomatillo sauce, costillas in chipotle sauce, albondigas, or whatever they are featuring are always tasty values. Posole, the Friday special, is the best in town and also the best I’ve ever had. The homemade agua frescas (jamaica or horchata) are as good as you will find. Service, often a bit rushed around lunch time, is always friendly and competent.
Putting Mi Rancho, located on 4th Ave around 27th St., on my list is a little like rooting for the Yankees as it is the largest Mexican restaurant in town located in a prime location on Yuma’s most trafficked street. The atmosphere here, while not fancy, tries to give one the feeling of Mexico. The place also has a wide range of mixed drinks and good margaritas. The service is about as good as you will find in a Yuma Mexican place – meaning usually at least adequate. The food is also good, though I find it a bit more inconsistent than Los Manjares. Nonetheless, the al pastor, machaca, barbecoa, filete de pescado (get it with garlic butter), carne en su jugo, and green or red chili are normally outstanding. The numerous lunch specials (only $4.99) are some of the best deals in town – particularly fine is the caldo de pollo (Wednesday only). My main complaints: I don’t much like the asada, and sometimes the dinner specials will be stuff that has been sitting too long on the stove. The salsa here is thick, spicy and outstanding and matches well with the warm, freshly prepared, thin style chips. This place is open for breakfast and stays open until 9:30 in the evening, which is good for folks looking for a late meal. Some people like their older, smaller, original location (Tacos Mi Rancho) at 2nd and 4th, but I quit going to it because service was uneven, and it was crowded and smoky from cigarettes.
At the opposite end of Yuma Mexican choices is El Jarocho, located in the back of a strip mall on 4th Ave behind Gonzo’s market between 13th and 14th. This tiny place (4 tables) is only open from around noon to 6 pm. There is no menu; instead the 3-6 daily specials and burrito and taco choices for the day are listed on a grease board. What that means is that every dish is freshly prepared and extremely tasty. Since I discovered this place last January, I believe I have eaten a meal there almost every week. Everything I have ordered has been as good or better than I can get elsewhere – some items like the camerones con verdura, caldo de res, tacos de cabeza, bistek ranchero, caldo de camerones y pescado, enchiladas verde, campechana, lengua en salsa tomate, and menudo are truly great. Most entrees are $6; tacos and burritos less. There are some shortcomings: there is little English spoken, the hours are limited, beverages are mostly canned soft drinks, the chips that come with the outstanding salsa de casera are normally store-bought, and you never know for sure what will be available. But for an anglo like me, this is as close as I can come to eating real Mexican food in a Mexican household. Fresh home cooking at its best!
About me: I am a community college professor who loves to eat and explore unusual restaurants. When it comes to Mexican food, I am open to all types, but most often will choose chicken dishes, seafood dishes, chile rellenos, or dishes like green chile – though I do try to eat a wide range of items. More often I eat Mexican food for lunch than dinner as I enjoy cooking and eating at home most nights. Your results may differ. There is no guarantee stated or implied. Your mouth is on its own. Please respond, dialogue, agree, disagree, add to, or update. I can only eat at one place at one time, so your help is appreciated.
It's nice to see chow details about Yuma on this board. So many people travel on I8 between PHX/TUS and San Diego and never make it past the bad fast food options directly off the interstate. While I must admit a weakness for Mr. G's and Papagallo these will definitely be considered the next time our travels take us through Yuma.
Thanks for the kind words. I have had friends in Yuma since 1985 and have been living here since 99. Being somewhat food-obsessed, I have tried hard to find the best spots. I have just added a post about other good Mexican eateries, will soon post about Yuma taco trucks, and your comments have led me to begin work on a post about Yuma food options for those just zooming by on I-8. I hope to post these over the next few days.