If "try something new" is on your To Do list, you're in luck. We know you have your favorite Mexican spot, but leave your comfort zone and you just might discover a gem. Here are 10 places we urge you to try.
Gorda's Baja Taco Finding Ensenada-style Mexican food is difficult in Phoenix, being that we're hundreds of miles from the ocean. Gorda's doesn't let that stop them from making juicy and flavorful shrimp tacos, and crispy fish tacos. It's easy to forget that you're in the middle of South Phoenix once you've stepped into the beach-y restaurant. Think Rubio's, but authentic.
Menuderia Guanajuato We often wonder whey this little eatery isn't packed. We've decided it's because it doesn't really look like a restaurant from the outside. The bright little building, protected by barred windows and front door, serves up some of the best enchiladas in the Valley, made with homemade tortillas. In fact, all of their tortilla-based dishes (think burritos, sopes, flautas), are made with homemade tortillas. Throw in refreshing horchata, and you'll wonder why you haven't heard of this place before.
Los Burritos Once you've tasted what this unsuspecting place has to offer, you'll be eternally grateful. Los Burritos fits the hole-in-the-wall style, and comes with great customer service. Try their burritos or tacos, but be sure no matter what you order as an entree, that you get yourself an order of their flan. It's not gooey and tasteless like other places. Los Burritos' flan is a cool caramel-flavored custard that doesn't come in a large enough portion.
El Ranchero Big rule of thumb when it comes to El Ranchero: Don't let the language barrier keep you from eating there. Even though you may not understand the cashier, she definitely understands you. Their menu is literally painted on the wall, easy to read, and tastes great. We love the gorditas, which look more like sopes. The meat is tender and flavorful, and with the homemade chile squirted on top, you'll be glad you made it through your first Spanish lesson at a restaurant.
Taqueria Yaqui The square building on McDowell gets cramped fairly quickly inside, and it's no surprise. Their taco offerings (written on the side of the building) are on the non-traditional side, when speaking of American standards. They offer birria, shrimp, chicharron (which we highly recommend), and cabeza. But if you feel like really diving in and eating something not found in many places, order cahuamanta: soup made with manta ray.
Frutilandia Maybe you're more of a sweet tooth, and you've tried the raspados and paletas already. Frutilandia not only serves up those classics, but "exotic drinks" made with fresh fruit chunks, ice cream, and syrup. It's a step up from a raspado and just as good, if not better. Frutilandia also serves a dessert entirely contained in half a cantaloupe. Meluna de Miel is half healthy, half not, with a scoop of ice cream, fresh cantaloupe and strawberry, topped with whip cream, chocolate syrup and honey.
Azteca Bakery and Mexican Food Just down the road from El Norteño is Azteca. You can guarantee it is packed during the lunch hour. The restaurant is a mini bakery inside as well, and their homemade tortillas are made without preservatives. The green chile burrito is spicy and full of flavor, as well as the enchiladas. Thankfully, even though the holidays are over, Azteca still serves tamales, so if you're craving them, you know where to go.
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Tacos Chava Phoenix is all about the food truck scene. But everyone seems to only stop at the uppity trucks with non-GMO this, vegan that. Broaden your outlook and drive to 27th Avenue and Van Buren Street between 7 p.m. and midnight to experience a food truck like none other. Tacos Chava is a mini restaurant on wheels, where you seat yourself and are waited on by a server. It's completely outdoor, with an added touch of luxury with a canopy, lights and large TV in the corner. Vampiros are a little less known and hardly made in Mexican restaurants, but it is closely related to a tostada, without the beans. And there's no going wrong with the al pastor tacos, which we think are the best we've had in Phoenix.