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True Taqueria in Phoenix Area?

I used to live in San Francisco and there were a plethora of amazing taquerias with fresh tortillas, chorizo on the spit, homemade drinks and salsas. Simply amazing. Anyone from there knows Taqeria Cancun in the mission among others.

Are there any true taquerias around here?

Not a chain, not for tortas (although a good taqueria may make killer tortas too). I don't care where I have to drive to find it.

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  1. Used to live in SF also and have not found anything comparable here...there are good taco shops, but not the same type of Mexican food you find at the Bay Area taquerias, which I have found to be totally unique. Let me know if you find any.

    1. Probably the closest thing you'll find to what you're looking for would be one of the Phoenix Ranch Markets .

      1. There are many places with the elements you describe, fresh drinks, salsas, great tacos, etc.

        Most places in PHX, however, aren't that much into presentation, such as smokey spits in plain view, and a tortilal flipping mamma up front. I'm not talking about higher end places with tableside guacamole - but the many small, independent places scattered all over. Part of the reason might be due to that very scattering... PHX is unlike more dense, walking cities where people often choose a place while walking by. Here, we're pretty much decided on a place before we walk into the door. And it also seems a lot of places are restricted by their space. It also requires a lot of cajones and adherence to regulatory stuff to put a lot of cooking in the open. We seem to be happy with a taco place that delivers great plate from a back kitchen, no questions asked!

        If you want to watch someone making tortillas and others grilling meats in the open, check out Tradiciones. I join you in the desire to see more of the cooking in action and think it'll become more popular as consumers embrace the idea.

        5 Replies
        1. re: tastyjon

          I don't think you know what I'm talking about. A taqueria that I'm describing is a basic hole in the wall. In the Mission in the SF, it is the street food. $5 burritos and free chips. If you are ever in SF, go to Mission and 20th street and hit up one of the taquerias. You will be blown away.

          1. re: danieli10

            There are plenty of inexpensive hole in the wall Mexican places here that produce street tacos, but if you are looking for some place that cranks out Mission-style rice-and-bean log burritos, you are probably going to be better served by going to chains.

            A few of my favorite stops for cheap street taco-type fare:

            Taco truck on NE corner of Broadway and 7th Ave (next door to Gordon's Feed Store @ 600 W Broadway)

            El Nopalito
            2831 N 24th St, Phoenix, AZ 85008

            La Barquita Restaurant
            2334 E McDowell Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85006

            Taco Nazo
            1405 W Southern Ave Ste 2, Tempe, AZ 85282

            1. re: danieli10

              I also grew up in sf and know exactly what you are talking about. I still haven't found anything like that in Phoenix. If you do find something please share it

              1. re: danieli10

                Taqueria El Pastorcito D.F.

                4105 N 51th Ave. Ste #100, Phoenix, AZ85031

                Wonderful El Pastor tacos. Very small place, 4 tables and no English. We usual go there and buy a dozen tacos to go.

                1. re: aquablue

                  Thanks, but too far west, looking for something central or east side.

            2. Zinc Bistro chef/partner Matt Carter has announced plans to turn the former site of Union Bar & Grill (Old Town Scottsdale) into something along those lines. And rest assured, Carter's got the chops to deliver whatever he sets his mind to. Knowing him and his pedigree as I do, I'm hoping for something akin to the street taco scene you find in places like San Diego, where vendors chop their crispy barbacoa on well-seasoned woodblocks right under their customer's noses, and serve their wares wrapped in grill-scored tortillas adorned with little more than a squeeze of fresh lime, shredded cabbage and cilantro.
              Hurry up, Matt, I'm freakin' hungry.

              4 Replies
              1. re: cabbageking

                You're making me hungry. I love a good street taco. Or a nice hot dog in an urban setting. :)

                1. re: cabbageking

                  Sound like a place way out in Apache Junction called Los Tacos. On Apache Trail across from Wall Mart. Serve tem up just like you describe.

                  1. re: chimay5

                    I know I said I would drive anywhere, but AJ is a little far for me. Thanks for all the good chatter on this topic. I wouldn't mind a killer taco stand as described above.

                  2. re: cabbageking

                    Sounds great, but is it going to be priced for the Old Town/Tourist scene?

                    As a local, I'd love a place where I might go for lunch and spend $5+ for lunch, or $5-10 for dinner. But on other occasions, spend $5-10 on tacos and $50 PP on margs, beers and tequila shots.

                    But that's me :)

                  3. It has long been rumored that LGO Hospitality plans to open a taco stand, designed by no less than Will Bruder, on the northwest corner of 40th and Campbell. It's the small piece of land that is now an oddly configured parking lot. Now, I'm the last person to advocate yet another restaurant crammed in at that corner, but if it might be the type of place the OP is looking for -- if it ever gets built.

                    1. I'd suggest LuLu's Tacos in Gilbert (610 N Gilbert Rd). It's mainly Guadalajaran style, and I have no idea whether its similar to taquerias in San Francisco, but it is very good. Although I will note that they've expanded their menu to include a lot of Sonoran/Arizonan dishes, which makes it tough to sort out what they're really good at - the menu at one time was just double wrapped tacos and seafood platters, which I'd reccomend.

                      1. My favorite cheap taco place is the Salsitas at Central and Southern - aqua frescas are really good - tacos can be oustanding or adequate depending on the day (good torta too)

                        1. I thought El Nopalito was great, but yeah...no tortilla-flipping mama up front or spit in plain view, atmosphere nothing like Farolito or Cancun...Really good tacos though.

                          Couple o' pics (of the tacos) here:

                          1. This place is today's "Review of the Day" on Yelp. I've never been there, but it sounds like it might be close to what you're looking for.


                            Tacos Mexico
                            2333 N 16th St, Phoenix, AZ 85006

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: silverbear

                              Tacos Mexico was one of our go-to casual Friday night options.

                              If indeed Tacos Mexico is still in business, I'm not sure it's exactly what the OP is describing. The menu is (was?) more along the lines of that at El Nopalito, but with a special focus on pollo asado cooked on an outdoor charcoal grill. It differs (differed?) from similar holes-in-the-wall in that area in that it has (had?) a modest bar in the dining room, less glaring lighting and/or less seedy decor (hard to judge in the dim light), and, on weekends, roving mariachi performers.

                              I equivocate here because I could have sworn that I saw a different sign on the building when I drove past that location back in June or July. The sign I remember was for something like "1 Minute Burrito" or "60 Second Burrito", which, as it turns out, might actually be closer to the model the OP is looking for.

                              The Google maps street view image is not much help, but seems to suggest that the "Tacos Mexico" sign had been painted out when the Googlemobile drove by. Of course, I suppose I could have been hallucinating or somehow confused 24th St for 16th St when I was out driving around. I'll try to check it out this week.

                              1. re: silverbear

                                Just following up on this morning's post. Indeed, Tacos Mexico is no more. The restaurant now occupying that location is called One Minute Burrito (see photo) and has a menu similar to but not quite as extensive as those at other restaurants in the area (e.g., La Barquita, El Nopalito) with familiar items tacos, tortas, burritos, rellenos, enchiladas, and so on.

                                The interior is much the same as (if not identical to) what was there when Tacos Mexico was there. The outdoor grill, however, appears to have been idled. I forgot to ask about the mariachis. ;-)

                              2. I am kind of confused by this thread, because I've been to taquerias in the mission and they were nothing like an architect designed taco stand or an old scottsdale version; they were mexican taquerias. I have had some scrumptious tacos at casita del mar [n. of oak on 32nd st.] esp. their al pastor & carnitas tacos. The waitresses do not speak english usually--but you can point to the menu if you don't speak spanish. I will try to get you a good recommendation using my usual method-- by asking a mexican patient. [I'm a nurse and I speak spanish.] I would have a list of recommendations, but I'm usually looking for mariscos.
                                Speaking of which, Mariscos Altata at 59th ave. & Indian School--que bueno!!

                                1. I know of an awesome place. I used to live near SF and I know what you're talking about. The tortillas are freshly hand made (corn). They have Al Pastor, Carnitas, Asada, Chorizo (very spicy), Lengua, and I think Tripas.

                                  It's on 95th Ave and Van Buren in Tolleson right behind a Sonic's.

                                  Name is La Flor de Michoacan. Their mini tacos are only $1.15 each. Let me know if you tried any of the suggested taco places and recommend them! Thanks!

                                  I also recommend "Pupusas" If you like street tacos, you'll love Pupusas. It's a Salvadoran dish. It's freshly made corn tortillas stuffed with meat or cheese. There's one on 75th Ave and Thomas named El Salvadoreno II. There's another one that stuffs more meat in it and they're cheaper in downtown, but the entrance is in the back. I can't recall the name, but it's in front of the hospital that's near 7th street and McDowell (I'm not from AZ), and next to an Asian restaurant named Hong Kong. I always see people who work at the hospital eating there.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: MsMexican

                                    Awesome. Thanks for the rec. I've heard of/seen pupusas, but have never had them, I will definitely give them a try. Sounds great!

                                    1. re: MsMexican

                                      You're thinking of Guanaquito.

                                      1434 E McDowell Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85006

                                    2. I just noticed this post is quite old, but I already wrote this so I'll just leave it...

                                      "I hate pee in the punch bowl, but SF has virtually no authentic taquerias, especially not Taqueria Cancun - with the exception of their tomatillo / avocado salsa, which you find in several regions in Mexico and all over Mexico City. Why do SF taquerias fall short? They all cut corners...crappy tortillas, reheating carne asada, pastor, etc on flat top grills - which basically steams the meat, imparting little or no carmelization or charcoal notes, sloppy construction that lead to tacos that fall apart, etc.

                                      I have to assume that the Phoenix area has a handful of places, like LA, that don't take the easy way out. A general rule of thumb I use is if they aren't making their own tortillas look elsewhere.

                                      Best of luck seeking them out! I'm off to spring training in a few weeks and thus constructing my list of places to hit..."

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: mattyfatty

                                        Not real helpful... Please feel free to pee elsewhere...

                                        1. re: danieli10

                                          In the sense that it isn't helping you to find what you're looking for, I agree.

                                          In the sense that it (brusquely) challenges the notion that "$5 burritos and free chips" characterize a "true taqueria"... well, I can't say there isn't value in that, even if tangential.

                                          I think the point is that if you're looking for SF Mission style taquerias, let's talk about those, and people who have a familiarity with the genre might be able to help steer you. But the implication that some others being suggested are somehow less than "true" by virtue of their not being SF Mission style is both incorrect and, whether you intend it or not, condescending.

                                          To be constructive about this, however, no, I'm not familiar with any places that -- based on my admittedly limited experience in the Mission -- mimic the subset of the genre you're seeking. That said, you'll find some mighty fine street tacos at El Rinconcito del DF in Sunnyslope (provided you avoid the carne asada and stick to stuff like the tripe, cabeza, or the al pastor off the trompo on the weekends, etc.), or Tacos Atoyac, just to name a couple of favorites.

                                          Happy hunting!

                                          1. re: Dmnkly

                                            thanks...I had Atoyac on my list but not the others.