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Moderate-bargain southwestern/Mexican restaurants

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fancylulu Nov 22, 2011 05:33 PM

We are traveling to Phoenix (from NY) in Jan. and are on a budget. We'd love to sample authentic southwestern and/or Mexican cuisine that we cannot get at home, but we are on a budget (would not want to spend more than $20/entree, preferably less). Also looking for good lunch suggestions.
Many thanks!

  1. johnseberg Nov 23, 2011 06:22 AM

    I'm sure you'll get some responses, but, it helps to let us know where you'll be staying. There are over a thousand cheap Mexican places in the Phoenix area, and it would help to narrow it down, somehow.

    1 Reply
    1. re: johnseberg
      f
      fancylulu Nov 30, 2011 07:10 PM

      Thanks to all who replied. We'll be staying with a friend's family in Chandler (south east of Phoenix, I believe). We will have a rental car, but I am not sure how far my companions will wish to travel. We may also be looking for lunch in the Whitman/Surprise area.

      Many thanks!

    2. Bill Hunt Nov 23, 2011 07:36 PM

      Along with the location of you inn, knowing if you have an auto, and are willing to drive a bit, will be helpful.

      If staying in South Scottsdale, I do not want to recommend El Bravo, in North Phoenix, as it is off the limited public transportation in Phoenix.

      Enjoy,

      Hunt

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      El Bravo
      3800 E Sky Harbor Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85034

      1. Melanie Wong Nov 30, 2011 10:23 PM

        Anyone have recent experiences to share at Los Dos Molinos in Mesa, Blue Adobe Grille in Mesa, or Si Señor in Chandler?

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        Los Dos Molinos
        260 S Alma School Rd Ste 137, Mesa, AZ 85210

        Blue Adobe Grille
        144 N. Country Club Drive, Mesa, AZ 85201

        Sí Señor Restaurant
        600 N Alma School Rd, Chandler, AZ

        5 Replies
        1. re: Melanie Wong
          johnseberg Dec 1, 2011 02:48 AM

          I have not been to that location of Los Dos Molinos in a couple of years, but, I was considering recommending it to the OP. I usually go to their downtown Phoenix location, as it is more convenient to me.

          I have read about a fair share of taco and torta shops in Chandler, here, but, I haven't had personal experience at many of them. One I like is Espo's. It's kind of a guilty pleasure.

          I was thinking about trying Secreto. These days, my reasons to travel to Chandler involve trying some non-Mex restaurants. I eat too much Mexican, closer to home.

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          Espos Mexican Food
          3863 W Chandler Blvd, Chandler, AZ 85226

          1. re: johnseberg
            exit2lef Dec 1, 2011 05:01 AM

            I've been to Secreto twice. It's pretty good. More New Mexican & Southwestern than Mexican.

            1. re: exit2lef
              johnseberg Dec 1, 2011 06:33 AM

              I added the place.

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              Secreto
              4232 E Chandler Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85044

            2. re: johnseberg
              themis Dec 2, 2011 06:39 PM

              I will ditto both Espo's and Secreto, happily. I used to live near Espo's, and while it is a neighborhood dive, the people there are happy to tell you how long the beans have simmered or how many generations back their chile recipe comes from. Secreto is a dark, comfortable sit-down joint with classic and flavorful New Mexican standards and a few inventive specials on the menu every night. I lived in NM for seven years, and I'm fussy about New Mexican style cuisine, and I take visitors there with no complaints.

              For a true bargain and lots of flavor, consider Carolina's for lunch. I think if you order a foot-long burro enchilada-style for lunch you won't pay more than $5.85. The tortillas come off the press minutes before your order is fired and are wonderfully pilable and toothsome, thin enough to read a newspaper through, and the "brown sauce" they smother with isn't spicy, but so flavorful. Take a dozen tortillas home and eat them still warm, they are a delight.

              I actually live fairly near the South Mountain outpost of Los Dos Molinos and take visitors there, also, happily. Really, don't order more than one margarita per evening unless you have called a cab. They are potent. People like to talk about how spicy their green chile is. I don't find it so fiery, just eminently satisfying.

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              Los Dos Molinos
              8646 S Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85042

              Secreto
              4232 E Chandler Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85044

            3. re: Melanie Wong
              m
              MesaChow Dec 1, 2011 06:21 AM

              We go to Blue Adobe Grille in Mesa when I'm in the mood for their lobster dip appetizer. Their food is good, but not stellar, and sometimes inconsistent. If you're willing to travel a little further north from Mesa, I like Carlsbad Tavern better.

              Haven't been to Si Señor for at least a year, but I enjoy the trio of salsas that come with the starter chips. I also like the sopapillas that end the meal. They focus on New Mexican flavors (i.e., hatch chilis), but presentation and quality-wise, i find it on par with or slightly better than several other local Mexican food sit-down chains.

            4. b
              Beach Chick Dec 1, 2011 06:34 AM

              If your going up to Sedona for a day or two, Elote Cafe for dinner is one of the best Southwestern Mexican restaurants I've ever been to...reasonable too.
              2 hour drive up from PHX and one of the prettiest places on earth.

              www.elotecafe.com

              6 Replies
              1. re: Beach Chick
                hohokam Dec 2, 2011 01:03 AM

                Because the geographic scale of the state is not always obvious to first-time visitors, I'll note here for the OP that Sedona is roughly 2 hours from the Whittmann/Surprise area and about 2.5-3 hours from Chandler, depending on traffic conditions.

                1. re: hohokam
                  m
                  MesaChow Dec 2, 2011 06:41 AM

                  I'm glad you mentioned this. Every time I see Elote recommended it reminds me that I need to get up there, but it's a solid 2 (if not 2.5) hour drive from where we live in north Mesa, and is only open for dinner (beginning at 5). I hate the 20 minute drive home from Phoenix after a nice dinner, which puts Sedona outside of striking distance without an overnight stay for me. But, I'm sure others are much more intrepid travelers than I.

                  Back to OP's request, Los Taquitos for lunch near Chandler would be a great inexpensive choice. Located just off of I-10 on Elliot Rd, it's a very casual family operated storefront next to a Safeway. They gained some national attention when they were featured on Guy Fieri's show, but I've enjoyed going there for many years before that. www.ltgrill.com

                  1. re: MesaChow
                    hohokam Dec 2, 2011 07:25 AM

                    Indeed. As I found out on a recent dinner run to Flagstaff, the *post-dinner* trip back down I-17 starts to feel a whole lot longer than the 2 hours it actually takes. By the time we hit New River, I was wishing for one of those things they used to hold open Malcolm McDowell's eyelids in A Clockwork Orange.

                    1. re: hohokam
                      m
                      MesaChow Dec 2, 2011 07:46 AM

                      Ha! That's quite a visual!

                      If OP is near downtown Chandler, Guedo's is also an inexpensive lunch option for tacos and the like.

                      This might be a little out of your way, but you could make a stop on your way to/from Chandler - Surprise at Tacos Atoyac, located just off of I-17 at Glendale & 19th Ave. It's small and very casual but everything I've had there has been fantastic. There's another dedicated thread that has more details.

                      1. re: MesaChow
                        f
                        fancylulu Dec 5, 2011 09:49 AM

                        Thanks to all who replied..Looks like there are some good options!

                        1. re: fancylulu
                          OldJalamaMama Dec 23, 2011 08:50 AM

                          Los Dos Molinos- (Alma School Road) was a suggestion to us, as we went last week for our daughters ASU graduation...FANTASTIC food! This particular location is basically in a auto repair zone- once you walk through the door you are swept away by the colors and the aromas.
                          We had no alcohol- but they had a awesome bar- distressed to see them using the soda machine to dispense them- though they were labeled PATRON, 1800 etc......since I didn't get to enjoy one- I will assume they are good.....
                          Our meal was lovely- the green sarza and red sarza that came with the chips-was outstanding and insured that our lunch would be out of this world- and it was.
                          I only know what I had- a reallano wrapped in an egg, smothered in dark red sauce. Delicious!

              2. a
                azkathy Jan 8, 2012 02:30 PM

                You might try the new Barrio Queen in Scottsdale. The food is very reasonable and authentic. It is run by the same woman who owns the Barrio Cafe in Phoenix. It is located near downtown Scottsdale.

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