Best Neighborhood Mexican Restaurant, South Phoenix - 2008
If you walk into Poncho's and think the place feels homegrown, well, you're on to something. Turns out this South Phoenix favorite was raised from a takeout business to a full-fledged restaurant back in the mid-'70s, when the Vasquez family converted their house into a dining room to accommodate a growing crowd of regulars. True to its history, Poncho's menu's full of homestyle recipes, and the wallet-friendly prices are a refreshing blast from the past, too. Many items come wrapped in a tortilla, from enchiladas and crisp chimichangas to burros like the El Crudo, stuffed with juicy machaca and tomatillo sauce. Other specialties include the Tamale Especial — a green corn tamale slathered in green sauce and jalapeño cream cheese — and the gooey, golden fried chile relleno. No matter what you choose, expect generous portions fit for a family feast. And if that Diet Coke just doesn't quite quench your thirst, be sure to check out the cozy cantina in the back. When you see the bar with a string of tiny beer bottle lights overhead, you'll know you've found the right place.