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Jul 6, 1997 09:25 PM

Arizona Mexican

  • p

My heritage is Sonoran- Mexican, as with most Mexican-American families in Arizona. Unlike the rest of Mexico it's cattle country, and the tortillas are made of wheat flour. As with any Mexican food, the best Mexican food is served in the home of a Mexican farm or ranch family--even in Arizona.

I'm not going to give you my mother's address, but I'll give you a good "foodie" alternative for Mexican.

In Tucson, Arizona go to St. Mary's Tortilla factory order at least a dozen of the finest Sonoran thin flour tortillas you'll ever eat, and order a "Machaca Burro" (In AZ there's no such thing as "burritos")and savor a true Sonoran Mexican nosh. Machaca is a stew of dried beef (jerky or carne seca in Spanish) and in this case it is mixed with mild green chiles and refried beans.

I will follow with the address of St. Mary's Tortilla factory later. (I think it on St. Mary's Rd and Silver Bell Rd.)

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  1. d
    Dave Beckstrom

    do you have any recipe's for shreaded beef machaca?

    6 Replies
    1. re: Dave Beckstrom
      jonathan gold

      Machaca is a pretty basic dish, but you might try:

      Briefly char over a grill or a stove flame,
      then peel, a couple of tomatoes and
      a handful of green chiles (serrano or jalapeno),
      chopping them up with, say, half a white onion, and
      frying them hard a few minutes in oil until the water
      sizzles out of the tomatoes.

      Then add a cup or so of shredded carne seca
      --which may be hard to get in
      your neck of the woods, but is the key ingredient--
      fry for another five or so minutes, and beat in a
      couple of eggs at the last if you like that sort
      of thing. If you think you've overcooked everything
      and the meat begins to singe, you've probably got
      it exactly right. (I hate soggy machaca.)

      There is a godhead Sinaloan version that is pounded
      in a mortar to almost a powder, seasoned heavily
      with cumin, and never mixed with eggs, but I haven't
      worked that one out yet.

      Good luck. And if you can't find the carne seca
      (I live in L.A., where you can find it in most
      Mexican delis, though it is expensive), you can
      always thinly slice flank steak and fry the
      hell out of it, though the texture won't be
      the same.

      1. re: jonathan gold

        Jonathan and David

        The recipe is basically right. I like soggy machaca though. Add fried potatoes to it and we call it "Casuelo".

        Another way to make beef jerky is to cut long thin strips of beef, salt, pepper and perhaps lime juice or chile powder (pure chile, not the McCormick crap)and bake in a very low oven (200 maybe) for long hours, until dry and hard. It works for my dad in a pinch.


        1. re: Pete Feliz

          "I like soggy machaca though"
          I know you do, Pete! I've just twenty minutes ago
          walked out the door of your fave, St. Mary's Tortilla
          Factory here in Tucson, where I ate a burra (burrito,
          for the rest of us) muchaca.
          amazing stuff, though I'm not sure I want another (g).
          The tortilla is amazing; big and gossamer thin, wheaty
          and tasting almost like Indian nan bread; it doesn't
          yield to goal-oriented chewing, but it will melt in
          your mouth if you wait another second.
          The machaca was similar...fibrous, moist, extremely
          concentrated and intense, and you can't eat it like
          food; you've got to give it time. This is not food for
          angstful hurried New Yorkers.
          Great place, though. I'm just now finishing off my last
          sip of horchata, which I'll toast in your honor!

          1. re: jim leff

            Thanks for the toast Jim. As for flour tortillas, St. Mary's is the standard by which all other Sonoran Tortillas de Agua must be compared. The rest are either what we call gorditas (only 12" in diameter and more than 1/32" thick) or crap. Please tell me more of your AZ adventures when you get the chance.


            1. re: Pete Feliz

              "Please tell me more of your AZ adventures when you
              get the chance"

              I'm just putting the finishing touches on a long photo
              essay! Also, there are slightly better tortillas in
              the same style, at the Yaqui Indian place, Yoeme!
              Glad to have you back active on the site!

              1. re: Jim Leff

                I'll be spending a few days with my
                sister in Phoenix in March (going
                to hike down to Phantom Ranch),
                and I'd appreciate any tips on good
                places to eat. I want to find the
                kind of spots Jim encountered on
                his trip (see his article) and avoid
                the trendy spots. Spots to stop at
                on the drive up to the Canyon also

    2. Hi, Peter!

      I hope you don't mind me resurrecting what appears to be the oldest available thread on CH--from July 1997.

      Gosh, I even see that St. Mary's Tortilla Factory is still in business, 16 years later.

      Is it still as good as it was in '97?


      1 Reply
      1. re: kaleokahu

        It's still as good as it was in 1968, that's the first time I had them. Tucson still has alot of great food that goes way back (and I hope it stays that way!