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What are the best Mexican restaurants in Phoenix?

We're originally from Dallas and we're looking for the best Mexican (non-chain) restaurants in and around Phoenix.

Where do you recommend we eat?

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  1. Here's a link to the local newspaper's "reader survey" for "Best Mexican Restaurants" in Phoenix. Carolina's was the top choice, and gets a lot of love here on Chowhound as well:


      1. Thank you all very much. We'll give some of the suggestions a try.

        1. Well, some of the recs. could well be predicated on WHERE you are staying in Phoenix. The Phoenix-Metro Area is over 500 Sq. miles, so my rec. might be 50 miles away from you, and may well not be worth the drive.

          Now, we live near a Carolina's, and have dined there many times, and at each, we ask, "what's the big deal?" OTOH, we love El Bravo, which is about 3 miles south of us, and much farther away.

          One thing to remember is that Phoenix is not that big on Tex-Mex (a favorite of ours), but is more Sonoran, and Bajan, which is different, as you might imagine.

          For the closest to Tex-Mex, we like El Conquistador, which is of Jaliscan influence (Guadalajara, but actually closer to Tex-Mex). However, they are in a small, strip-center, out in North Phoenix, but not far from the North location for Carolina's.

          Now, there is nothing in Metro-Phoenix, that I have encountered, that I would term Tex-Mex, but then some of the restaurants represent states, that are not too far away.

          Most of all, enjoy, and there is nothing wrong with Sonoran, or Bajan, they are just different, and there are several good threads on CH, that articulate the differences.


          1. Rito's (on 14th St. near Roosevelt)

            2 Replies
            1. re: ipsedixit

              2nd Ritos.
              No sign.
              No inside dining but outside picnic tables
              Very, very limited menu.

              Clearly, Bill is very food knowledge.
              Having said tha,t the green chili burro, add cheese, at Carolinas is not to be missed.

              Is Mia's in Dallas still open?
              The food and the owners and the staff use to be terrific.
              Still remember it after 20yrs.

              1. re: au lait

                Mia's is still open and going great. Very busy as usual.

                Thanks for your recs.

            2. Rito's is a local urban myth. It's a Disney-safe experience for gringos at lunchtime who would not go there alone at night. The green/beef chile is soupy and may even be out of a can -- it's no better than that -- served with store-bought white tortillas out of plastic bags. You have to kind of drink your burrito, tilted upward, if you eat it by hand, out of a foil tin, outside at a soiled picnic table under the hot sun after standing in line. Your Coke will some from a can, too. Enjoy!

              1. You'll find plenty of cookie cutter Mexican restaurants or bastardized specialty Mexican dishes in the upscale Foo-Foo places. The best are always the "hole in the wall" places. Carolina's is always a great choice (14th St and Mohave in South Phoenix is the original, Cave Creek and Cactus and there is a third location in the west valley but I can not remember the cross streets), La Canasta, La Casita and Pepe's Taco Villa (Camelback and 20th St. North side of the street in a small building)... Have fun :-)

                2 Replies
                1. re: tseptember

                  Pepe's is 20th avenue, not street.

                  Also, for a good hole in the wall place is Tacos Atoyac on 19th ave and Glendale.