La Vida

  • Readers Choice

    BEST SPANISH LANGUAGE TV/RADIO PERSONALITY Johnny Dilone (Mas Channel 55) 480-607-9222 BEST SOUTHWESTERN RESTAURANT Z'Tejas Grill several Valley locations BEST SALSA Macayo's several Valley locations BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT Garduño's Margarita Factory 8787 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale BEST MARGARITA Garduño's Margarita Factory BEST TEQUILA SELECTION Garduño's Margarita Factory… More >>
  • Best Piñata Shop

    Reyna's Party Place

    There's no better way to relieve stress than to bash the shit out of someone with a large stick, and you can do this legally at Reyna's Party Place. With a few days' advance notice, and for around $25, Reyna's people can provide you with a custom-made piñata -- just bring in a photo or a description of the character… More >>
  • Best Curandero O Brujo

    Las Potencias Africanas

    Boss on your case? Feeling hexed? If you're in need of a quick spell removal -- or a spell installation, for that matter -- Las Potencias Africanas might be able to help. The small storefront next to the Azteca Cafe offers just about anything you might need for a self-help take on the ancient Catholic-and-African-fused method of Santeria -- including… More >>
  • Best Yerberia

    Yerberia San Francisco

    Long before it became popular to take homeopathic remedies, Mexicans have used herbs as a natural, ceremonial alternative to traditional medicine. The problem is finding the yerberia that supplies just what you're looking for. But for an inexpensive cure to your every ailment, Yerberia San Francisco is a one-stop homeopathic shop. Stomach hurt? Some yerba buena (or "good herb," otherwise… More >>
  • Best Latino Gay Dance Club

    Paco Paco

    From 10-inch heels to cowboy boots, you can find it all at Paco Paco. Gay or straight, you can dance to the beat of Shakira, Ricky Martin and cumbias all night long Tuesdays through Sundays, usually for just a $3 cover. The dance floor is small but often packed tight with a lively crowd jamming to the techno beat of… More >>
  • Best Latino Drag Club

    Club Zarape

    Better get some extra padding for that black lace outfit! Seedy, dark, loud and desperately in need of a face-lift, Club Zarape is home to beautiful, campy drag shows that are a blast to watch. On weekends, a cover charge gets you in to dance to cumbias, salsa, mambo, Tejano or just about anything else that gets you going. Or… More >>
  • Best Spanish-Music Dance Club

    El Capri

    Start polishing those cowboy boots and dusting off that big sombrero, because if it's Tejano or norteño music you're looking for, El Capri is waiting. For a $5 cover charge on weekends, you get admission to Tejano heaven. Inside you'll find two massive dance floors packed with couples moving and grooving quebradita-style -- like a Mexican tango -- fun to… More >>
  • Best Mexican And Spanish Karaoke

    Casa del Mariachi

    Love to sing? From Julio Iglesias to Enrique Iglesias, you can give it your best shot -- in Spanish. Whether you're after some karaoke or real live mariachi, either way you can start warming up your vocal cords for Casa del Mariachi. The new-from-the-ground-up Casa stays true to its name, featuring nightly live variety shows; check out the open mikes… More >>
  • Best "Little Mexico"

    Van Buren to Thomas on 16th Street, Phoenix

    In Mexico, the streets are full with street vendors, shoppers and folks just out for a stroll. And we get flashbacks of that whenever we're traipsing along 16th Street in Phoenix. The stretch from Van Buren north to Thomas has quickly become a district of one-stop shopping for everything Mexican, with lots of foot traffic at all hours of the… More >>
  • Best Chips And Salsa

    ¡Cantina! del Pedregal

    Chips and salsa. They go together like love and marriage. A horse and carriage. Like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, Batman and Robin, Britney Spears and her belly button, they're inseparable. We're addictive dunkers, never able to stop at just one basket. But we're highly particular about our chips. They must be thin, crispy, lightly salted, blooming with rich corn… More >>
  • Best Mexican Restaurant

    Acapulco Bay Company

    Phoenix is only four hours from the Mexican border. You'd think we'd be swamped with excellent, authentic Mexican restaurants. Not so -- unless your idea of real Mexican cuisine is that bloated chain stuff topped with a tiny paper flag. For the real deal, we go to Acapulco Bay, where we can sample some of the finest comida Mexicana y… More >>
  • Best Cheap Mexican Food

    El Norteño

    Even when we have no money, we still can eat like royalty at El Norteño. The most expensive thing on the menu at this casual, counter-service shop is a Mexican pizza, and for $6.75, it's huge, loaded with ground beef, beans, guacamole, sour cream, tomatoes, jalapeños and onions. Most everything else comes in at less than $5, with flavors and… More >>
  • Best Upscale Mexican Cuisine

    La Hacienda

    For so long, "upscale" hasn't been a word associated with Mexican cuisine. Just this year, though, we've had several restaurants open, hoping to tap into a moneyed clientele who realize that Mexican is so much more than tacos, enchiladas and burros. But it's still that grande dame of south-of-the-border that wins our heart. La Hacienda even looks delicious. We imagine we're… More >>
  • Best Mexican Seafood

    San Carlos Bay Seafood Restaurant

    Sometimes we wonder if we've gotten boring when, year after year, we award the same "Best of" designation to the same restaurant. But when the category is Mexican seafood, and the restaurant is San Carlos Bay, we know we'll never apologize for the repetition. How does this tiny, white stucco shop keep in stock such an ocean of riches? Who cares,… More >>
  • Best Nueva Mexican


    So owner Richardson Browne has a sign in his restaurant that reads, in Spanish, "Restaurant critics can kiss my ass." So he celebrated a former New Times Best of Phoenix designation by mounting the plaque on a toilet seat in his rest room. So he bluntly warns diners that his chile policy is: You Order It, You Own It. It's… More >>
  • Best Mexican Hideaway

    Rito's Market & Mexican Take Out

    The first time we went to Rito's, we spent more on gasoline than on our lunch. That's because we drove by a few times before realizing that, yes, this cozy stucco house in a residential neighborhood was what we were seeking. There's no sign outside; the only giveaway is the side yard of primary-color picnic tables packed with people putting… More >>
  • Best AZ-MEX Restaurant

    Gecko Grill - CLOSED

    Gringo-friendly Sonoran-style Mexican food -- isn't that an oxymoron? Not if it's in the hands of the Moreno family. Then it becomes reliably safe even for the most timid taste buds, yet still so well-prepared it gets a rise even out of us. We're in for standard tacos, tamales, enchiladas, burros, tostadas and such, minus too much spicing or surprises.… More >>
  • Best Mole


    Mezcal's mole is, in a word, magnificent. It's hard to choose among the distinctive varieties -- mole rojo, mole amarillo, or mole verde -- each served over chicken and paired with fresh vegetables plus sweet potato purée, Swiss chard, rice or chochoyotes (masa dumplings). So we do the smartest thing and get them all in the appetizer tamale combo: three moist,… More >>
  • Best Tortillas


    When we're in Rocky Point, we start most of our days with a steaming hot cup of coffee and a handful of made-that-morning flour tortillas. We pull them one by one, still warm in their plastic bag, delivered right to our doorstep. Since 1968, Arizona's closest contender for a Rocky Point tortilla experience has been Carolina's. And to this day, it… More >>
  • Best Pozole


    We have a friend who drove in all the way from far southeast Gilbert to our neighborhood Arriba in north Scottsdale. It took them about an hour, but they'd been told there was something really special going on at this New Mexican cantina. They're right. Chalk it up to generous portions, fresh ingredients and lots and lots of Hatch green… More >>
  • Best Quesadilla

    Tequila Grill

    What is it that makes a quesadilla so compelling? There's not much to it -- a flour tortilla smothered in cheese, maybe some meat, maybe some vegetables, folded and grilled. But when a chef gets creative with those fillings, a quesadilla can be a real creation. And in the case of Tequila Grill, that chef is us. It's like building our… More >>
  • Best Tacos

    Dos Gringos

    We could do without the party crowd here, like the kids who drink tequila out of each other's belly buttons. But there's no discounting the quality of the tacos, served Rocky Point-style with seasoned cabbage and cilantro. The six-inch tortillas are cheap and hefty, $1.70 for marinated steak, charbroiled chicken or chorizo sausage. For just a few pennies more, we… More >>
  • Best Tequila Selection

    Coyote Grill

    Coyote Grill's menu warns us that mescal is a "less smooth" tequila. We wonder if owner Chris Harter will step up and pay our dentist bill when we need to have the enamel on our teeth replaced after kicking back a shot of his Dos Gusanos. The liquor -- plumped up with two worms per bottle -- is a taste… More >>
  • Best Margarita


    What makes a margarita so exquisite, paired with a basket of crisp, salty chips and an assortment of salsas? No doubt it's the bullish grip of lots of good tequila, tart and dusty to complement the earthy tones of our chips and dip. But most important, it's the add-ins that make or break a margarita. We like a little character with… More >>
  • Best Fish Tacos

    Rita's Mexican Food

    We remember many years ago when Rubio's arrived in Phoenix. You'd think people had gone nuts. Food writers lauded the simple fish taco served by this California-based chain, swooning over the deep-fried, mayo-sauce-slathered, cheese-drenched fish bits. We just shook our heads. Hadn't these people ever made it over to Rita's, where chef-owner Rita Aramburo has been fashioning authentic fish tacos… More >>