Pozole (pronounced poh-SOH-lay) just might be the ideal Mexican comfort food.
Enjoyed nearly everywhere in Mexico and throughout the American Southwest, the hearty meat broth, laced with chile and enhanced with hominy (essentially dried maize kernels soaked in lime) boasts several variations. Most feature pork garnished with shredded lettuce, onion, radishes, oregano, and sometimes chicarron (fried pork skin), chile, and tostadas.
And the soup's color -- red, white, or green (pozole rojo, pozole blanco, o pozole verde) -- depends upon the color of the ingredients used. Namely, the color of the corn and peppers.
But the best part of pozole may be the many ways in which it can be prepared. From the traditional, to the more modern, to all-out gourmet, no two places prepare it exactly the same way.
Now get those spoons ready. Here are 10 of our favorites.
The contemporary, downtown vibe may be one reason to visit this new urban gathering place on the second floor of the Hotel Palomar at CityScape, but chef Stephen Jones serves up another: his version of pozole. What may be the best dish on the menu, this heady, sweet-and-smoky concoction features tender Ancho chile braised pork neck, cabbage, hominy, avocado, and pickled red onion topped with a fried egg and toasted bread for soppin' nestled in a jet-black iron pan.
The Ochoa sisters, who own these two cheerful Mexican diners (one in Phoenix and one in Ahwatukee), use family recipes and fresh ingredients for their delicious dishes -- like their red pozole. With a flavorful broth and tender pork, this good-size portion satisfies, especially with fresh accompaniments and tasty tortillas on the side.
Chef Matt Carter's sophisticated spot of modern Latin cuisine in Scottsdale might mean shaking the piggy bank for some extra coin, but the culinary journey is worth it -- especially for his take on pozole. Carter makes his version of the popular Mexican soup with luscious smoked pork, red chile, hominy, avocado, lime, and corn tortillas for a highly flavorful start to an exceptional meal.
This neighborhood hangout in Central Phoenix, named for the historic Sierra Bonita Ranch in Southeastern Arizona, invites guests to sip a bowl of their green chile pozole by the fire. And why not? Thanks to wonderfully tender pieces of pork and hominy bobbing about in a mild green chile broth topped with shredded cabbage, onions, and cilantro, the taste is comfort food fantastic. And with two sizes available, the amount of indulgence is up to you.
This unassuming little breakfast, lunch, and dinner spot in Mesa offers two ways to enjoy their rich red pork pozole: a big, single bowl for $6.50 or all-you-can-eat for a buck more. No matter which option you choose, make sure to accompany the pozole with a chilaca (roasted green peppers) quesadilla for extra meal-time goodness.
Soup lovers on the west side (way west, like Tolleson west) will be glad to know there's tasty pozole to be found at this small, clean, and friendly eatery. The red pozole is served hot, flavorful, and chock-full of tender pieces of pork and hominy. But those looking to score a bowl take note, this restaurant closes at 3 p.m.
Celebrity chef Jose Garces' modern Mexican restaurant inside The Saguaro hotel in Old Town Scottsdale may have it's flaws, but the pozole isn't one of them. Garces' gourmet version features a deeply flavorful tomatillo stock with crispy pork belly, littleneck clams, smoky chorizo, and stinging discs of serrano peppers. Alongside a side dish of lime, radishes, and onions to add as you please, this soup's worthy of star status.
What makes the pozole so good at this casual eatery of Mexico City-style food inside the Clarendon Hotel in Central Phoenix? Why, you do -- kinda. A side plate of goodies (cabbage, avocado, dried oregano, diced onion, and lime) as well as a cup of black pasilla chile make for the ingredients you'll use to enhance the soup's overall flavor and turn up the heat as you desire. Already chock-full of tender, shredded pork and hominy, this soup truly eats like a meal.
Totally nondescript from the outside, this bare-bones strip-mall storefront serves up some of the best pozole in Mesa. It's flavor is deliciously bold and made with tender chunks of beef on the bone with add-as-you-like garnishes of cilantro, onions, shredded cabbage, and lime. Plus (bonus) after the meal, you can score a paleta, raspado, or other cool treat from the ice cream shop next door.
This tiny, family-run spot on the city's west side is easy to miss, but when it comes to finding top-notch pozole in all three varieties, seeking it out is worth it. There's the deep-flavored rojo filled with pork chunks, hominy, and red chiles; the blanco made with chicken and less spicy; and the tangy verde (also featuring chicken) made with tomatillos. Each is served up with fresh add-ins and tortillas or crispy chicharrones. Delicious.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
And check out our other lists: 7 Favorite Juice Bars 6 Favorite Hawaiian Restaurants 7 Spots to Eat and Drink Around ASU Downtown 7 Spots to Eat and Drink Around ASU Tempe 10 Favorite Cookie Shops 10 Favorite Vietnamese Restaurants 10 Favorite Restaurant Playlists 10 Favorite Places for Romance on a Budget 10 Favorite Places to Buy Craft Beer 7 Favorite British Restaurants 10 Favorite Bloody Marys 10 Favorite Meat Shops 11 Favorite Summer Cocktails from Metro Phoenix Restaurants 10 Favorite Drive-Thrus 10 Favorite Spots for Guacamole 10 Favorite Theme Restaurants 15 Favorite Late Night Eats 10 Favorite Summer Foods 7 Favorite Soul Food Places 10 Favorite Sangrias 7 Favorite Paleteria 10 Favorite Breakfast Places 10 Favorite International Markets 10 Favorite Spots for Crepes in Greater Phoenix 11 Favorite Phoenix Beers 10 Favorite Spots for Seafood in Greater Phoenix 10 Favorite Gelato Spots 10 Favorite Burrito Joints in Metro Phoenix 10 Favorite Spots for Wings in Metro Phoenix 11 Things to Eat and Drink Before You Leave Phoenix Ten Favorite Phoenix Hot Sauces and Salsas Top Ten Spots for Mac 'n' Cheese in the Valley Three Favorite Espresso Shots in Metro Phoenix Ten Favorite Metro Phoenix Farmers' Markets Ten Favorite Metro Phoenix Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Eleven Favorite Favorite Places for Sushi in the Valley Ten Favorite Metro Phoenix Cupcakes Eleven Favorite Barbecue Joints in Greater Phoenix Ten Favorite Metro Phoenix Wine Bars Ten Favorite Phoenix Irish Restaurant & Pubs Six Favorite Specialty Cocktails in Phoenix Ten Favorite Metro Phoenix Craft Beer Bars Ten Favorite Gourmet Pizza Shops in the Valley Five Favorite Japanese Restaurants in Phoenix Ten Favorite Margaritas in Metro Phoenix Ten Favorite Coffee Shops in Phoenix Five Favorite Thai Restaurants in Metro Phoenix Eleven Favorite Ice Cream Shops in Greater Phoenix Ten Favorite Phoenix Happy Hours Five Favorite Sonoran Dogs in the Valley Ten Favorite Hot Dogs in Greater Phoenix Ten Favorite Desserts in Phoenix Ten Favorite First Date Restaurants Ten Favorite Burgers in Greater Phoenix Ten Favorite Downtown Phoenix Restaurants for Late Night Dining Ten Favorite Vegetarian Entrees in Metro Phoenix Ten Favorite Chinese Restaurants in Greater Phoenix