This weekend, dozens of local restaurants will head to Salt River Fields in Scottsdale for the annual Arizona Taco Festival. The two-day event is a blowout festival of all things taco and tequila and will feature live music, multiple bars, and a hot chile pepper eating contest.
There will be no shortage of things to eat, see, and do, and we've got a sneak preview of what six taco teams will bring to the table.
See also: 18 Fall Food Festivals in Metro Phoenix
Joseph Aguayo's Dos Manos
If you were around Phoenix in 2010, then you might remember Verde, the Mexican restaurant that once inhabited the current home of Matt's Big Breakfast. And if you remember Verde, then you also might remember Joseph Aguayo, the man behind the short-lived spot. For the Arizona Taco Festival, he's teamed up with Hip Veggies and will be debuting his pop-up taco shop called Dos Manos. The booth will be serving the following tacos:
Second Story Liquor Bar
If you haven't had a chance to head upstairs and check out the Second Story Liquor Bar -- located above Gelato Spot in Old Town Scottsdale -- you can catch the restaurant this weekend serving two types of playful tacos:
- Al Pastor Taco | Yogurt Cabbage | Togorashi Pineapple Salsa topped with Manchego Cheese
- Spicy Refried Beans with Gringo Guacamole and Manchego Cheese
Located in Surprise, this restaurant comes courtesy of French-trained chefs Snir and Kiersten Mor. Snir grew up in Israel and used that as a jumping-off point for Amuse Bouche's Mediterranean-themed tacos:
- Mediterranean chicken tacos - citrus marinated chicken, tomato cucumber and feta salsa, tahini sauce, and homemade harissa
- Falafel tacos - made from scratch Israeli style falafels, tomato cucumber feta salsa, middle eastern pickled cucumbers, tahini and harissa
The restaurant will also have blueberry bread pudding with caramel sauce and whipped cream.
This new Mexican restaurant offers a one-of-a-kind experience that you'll have to go to the restaurant to see, but this weekend you can at least get a taste of their classic Mexican cuisine. Fogon will be serving three types of tacos:
- Pork Carnitas with chile morita
- Beef Carnitas with chile de arbol
- Chicken Tinga with salsa fresca
Gadzooks Enchiladas and Soup
This year Gadzooks will be bringing back their award-winning chicken taco from last year's festival. Look forward to a creation featuring ingredients created by the restaurant's owner Arron Pool:
- 50/50 corn-flour tortilla, roasted tomatillo chicken, sweet and spicy cornbread, Honvey-V slaw, J-Ranch (jalapeno ranch), and crumbled cojita cheese
The Herb Box
Fans of this heath-focused eatery with locations at Southbridge and DC Ranch, both in Scottsdale, can look forward to two different tacos from chef Becky Windels. The Herb Box will be serving:
- Ancho Bourbon Short Rib
- Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potato
And don't worry. If none of these 14 tacos tickles your fancy, there will scores of others to choose from this weekend. Other participating restaurants include last year's grand champ The Mission/The House Brasserie, Taco Guild, Distrito, Blue Hound Kitchen + Cocktails, Gallo Blanco, and more.
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The event will also feature lucha libre wrestling, interactive photo booths, live music, and taco-eating contests. On Saturday, the event will feature a tequila expo and Great Ghost Pepper Challenge, while Sunday will bring the Chihuahua Beauty Pageant, Flair Bartender Challenge, and live cooking demonstrations.
General admission tickets to the event cost $12 and do not include food or drinks. Tacos will cost $2 each. VIP tickets cost $100 and include five alcoholic beverages, one water/soda, 10 tacos, and other privileges. Admission to the Tequila Expo, held on Saturday only, costs an additional $20. All tickets can be purchased online.
For a full breakdown of the schedule and more information about the event, visit the Arizona Taco Festival website.