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Looking for one great Mexican meal in Phoenix

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I'm coming to Phoenix (from Seattle) for the holidays. Since I'm visiting family, I'll probably only manage one meal out, probably lunch.

I'm looking for some mind-blowingly good Mexican food. In the past, I've enjoyed Barrio Cafe, Los Sombreros, El Tlacoyo, Mariscos de la Playa, and Restaurant Mexico, and Carolina's. (Not a fan of Los Dos Molinos). I'd appreciate any suggestions for places to go and dishes to order.

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  1. You mentioned two of the "Holy Trinity" of Gourmex in Phoenix area, Barrio and Los Sombreros. The third is Richardsons. If you haven't been, that is where I would recommend you head to. As far as dishes I can't really help you there, although I can tell you I have thouroughly enjoyed everything I have had there.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Billy Bob

      I thought Richardson's was more New Mexican than Mexican. Not that I'd turn down a meal there, as their carne adovada is spectacular.

      1. re: Firenza00

        Yeah, I'd be a little concerned that Richardson's would be more similar to Los Dos Molinos. I like Richardson's quite a bit better, but, I like them both, and they're both heavy on New Mexican style food.

        1. re: johnseberg

          I wouldn't even compare the two, other than the use of our neighbors in the description.

          Los Dos is New Mexican Hatch Chili inspired Mexican.

          Richardson's is more of a gourmet New Mexican. Lots of fish and steaks.

          Two of my favorites, but distinctly different.

        2. re: Firenza00

          I see your point, but I have always sort of viewed New Mexican as another variation of Mexican style, like Oaxacan and Sonoran are different styles. I guess technically since it is heavily influenced by New Mexico, you cold argue it isn't true Mexican, but I would guess most of the practioners have heavy Mexican heritages :-)

      2. I'm going to say go to Tradiciones at Phoenix Ranch Market. Everything I've had there except for the combination plates has been utterly wonderful, and the atmosphere is bar-none the best of any Mexican restaurant in Phoenix.

        1602 E Roosevelt St, Phoenix, AZ 85006

        4 Replies
        1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

          Seconded! They have a mixed grill that you could order if you brought a friend or two -- but I'd steer you away from that, and suggest maybe the mole, the carne asada, the snapper Veracruz, elotes, sopecitos. I can never decide between a margarita or one of the aguas frescas, so I order both. Afterwards, stop by the grocery and take home a bag of tamales for your family; a terrific holiday tradition.

          1. re: themis

            Thirded! I was introduced to Tradiciones through this board and now we are regulars. Great food and lively atmosphere! The cilantro margaritas are great.

            1. re: themis

              Ah, the margaritas! How could I forget the margaritas there, they're fantastic! It's the only place in town where I regularly get the fruit margaritas; they use the same fresh fruit that they're selling in the grocery store, and as a result they come out terrific. Mentioning the aguas frescas (I get those every time I'm in the grocery store; their carts really need cup holders!) has me wondering... anyone ever seen them try a margarita de jamaica before?

              1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                Gotta agree on this one, and add that the service is outstanding. Whoever is training these folks has got it spot on. And based on a lunch visit earlier this week, the rice has been brought back to it's former glory.

          2. I've had some outstanding "Gourmex" (thanks, billybob) meals at Such is Life/Asi es La Vida in central Phoenix. If you see cochonita pibil on the lunch menu, stop reading and start ordering--theirs is the finest I've ever had. I would also highly recommend their sangria, unless you are highly prone to addictive behaviors. ;-)

            Such Is Life
            3602 N 24th St, Phoenix, AZ 85016