BEST NEIGHBORHOOD MEXICAN, CENTRAL PHOENIX - 2005
Nearly every 'hood in the Valley has its own "Best Neighborhood Mexican" restaurant, sometimes more than one. The category exists not for those gourmet, highfalutin Mexican places -- the same four places you always see listed in rags around town, and deservedly so, for exceptional, haute Mexican cuisine. We love those spots, but sometimes you just want a good enchilada, taco, or plate of beans, without having to deal with a lot of B.S., and that's when we cruise over to a spot like Rosita's Place on McDowell Road, just east of the 51, where the albóndigas melt in your mouth and the frijoles are as appetizing as the flan. Some of the best tacos in the Valley vie for your tongue's attention with enchiladas that'll forever make you turn your nose up at the gringo versions sold elsewhere. The environs are authentic as well: Brown, glazed Mexican pottery hangs from orange roof beams, vintage black-and-white pics of Mexican soldiers hang from the walls, and a gurgling, stone-lipped pond/fountain filled with goldfish sits before a makeshift shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe. Rosita's is a neighborhood Mexican eatery that inspires neighborhood pride. And if you live or work nearby, you're fortunate indeed.