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Jan 2, 2012 06:40 PM

Quick Phoenix report

Hello Phoenix Hounds,

Three days gave me a chance to try some of your recommendations. Here’s a quick rundown of my experiences:

1. Gallo Blanco – Good coffee, pleasant if hipsterish atmosphere, and sweet and hardworking waitstaff. The chicken chilaquiles were good, except that the whites of the sunny-side up eggs were not fully cooked, which is something I hate. Anyway, I’d be willing to try Gallo again on my next trip.

2. Tacos Atoyac – I really enjoyed this hole-in-the-wall Oaxacan taqueria in spite of its somewhat scruffy location. Exceptionally friendly atmosphere. The fish tacos and molotes were good, not great. However, the memelita (kind of like a sope) was delicious and I wished I had ordered a couple.

3. Carolina’s North – This was the big disappointment of my trip. I can understand why some Hounds like this place – You grew up eating it, it’s nostalgia, the real taste of Phoenix…But this food is just not prepared with enough love. I got the machaca (shredded beef) burro. There’s a silver lining here – I learned the name of the greatest item of Mexican food I have ever eaten, sold to me by church ladies at a fundraiser in Fort Hancock, Texas. Turns out it was a machaca burro. That burro was the Platonic form, of which the Carolina’s version is but a pale, stringy, sodden shadow. The wet, flavorless filling overwhelmed the homemade flour tortilla, which was what had drawn me there in the first place.

4. El Bravo – I hit El Bravo after Carolina’s for a green corn tamale. It was o.k., but not something I’d make a special trip for.

5. La Condesa – Totally inspiring, the highlight of my trip. Two tacos, shrimp with creamy cilantro sauce and the Sonoran carne asada, set me back $12, but it was money well spent. The carne asada, which included a disk of Oaxacan cheese griddled until brown on one side, flirted with perfection. If La Condesa were in my town, I’d eat there every week.

Thanks for the tips.

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  1. Thanks for the report back-! I'm sorry Carolina's was a disappointment; I've not been to the northern one, I prefer the seedier central location :).

    1. Nice feedback, I concur with the Carolina's review...not sure why it is so highly rated? I've tried it a couple of times and won't go back.

      1. Yesterday, on the way to Sky Harbor made the usual stop at Rito’s. Flight cancelled with no notice but at least a good lunch.

        Today, on the way to the airport picked up a green machaca burro at Carolina’s on Mohave.

        The shredded beef was tender not chewy and dissolved in the mouth.

        The green sauce seasoning was in perfect balance with the flavor of the meat, cheese and tortilla. No reason to add any extra anything.

        The tortilla was soft and chewy did not get hard at the end and held together until the last delicious bite.

        Instead of “pale, stringy, sodden shadow” it was perfection. For a moment I regretted not ordering two.

        As an aside, as always, even when there is line the counter guys readily answer questions and the kitchen prepares the food quickly and as ordered.