Welcome to the 2018 edition of The Essentials, our catalog of indispensable and quintessential Phoenix food and drink. From now until May, we'll be sharing 50 dishes, drinks, and food experiences that make up the culinary backbone (and personality) of metro Phoenix. This list is highly eclectic, mixing classics with newer and lesser-known favorites. But all The Essentials have one thing in common: We think they're required eating (and drinking) in metro Phoenix.
13: The Jazzy from Emerson Fry Bread
The Emerson Fry Bread food truck doesn't just sell fry bread – it sells some of the best fry bread tacos in the state. And those hot, pillowy discs of fried dough are artfully hewed to hold a delicious array of toppings, including intensely seasoned carne asada, green chile chicken, and the simple yet enormously satisfying combo that is fresh pinto beans slicked with melted cheese.
Since owners Lorenzo Emerson and Roxanne Wilson launched the truck in 2011, Emerson Fry Bread has earned a devoted following for its unique spin on the beloved Arizona staple. The truck is known for its scratch-made sauces and beans, and frequent use of organic produce.
The most popular order is probably The Jazzy, a taco that brings together Emerson's Mojave, Quechan, and Mexican-American roots and packs them into an irresistible culinary package. The Jazzy features intensely seasoned carne asada and pinto beans, topped with fresh herbs and field greens that look as if they've been plucked off the farmer's market truck at the peak of freshness.
What really makes this taco singular, though, is the fry bread itself, which is cleanly fried and delightfully chewy. Wash it all down with some of the truck's sweet-tangy prickly pear lemonade, or the truck's other signature drink: the Sonoran Sunset, a blend of prickly pear lemonade, orange juice, and grenadine.
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Is Emerson Fry Bread the best food truck in metro Phoenix? You'll have to be the judge of that. But it's been named the top food truck in Arizona by a handful of national food blogs over the years. And there's no doubt that the folks at Emerson Fry Bread are helping usher in a new era of fry bread in metro Phoenix – one where fresh, locally sourced ingredients are front and center on the menu.
If you haven't had a chance to try one of Emerson's tacos yet, it helps to know that the truck makes frequent appearances at Valley food truck festivals, including Gilbert's Friday night "Feastival." You can also track the truck's location on the Emerson Fry Bread Facebook page.
Emerson Fry Bread, location and hours vary, 602-516-8228.
The Essentials So Far:
50: Soul food platter at Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles
49: The Bear at Short Leash Hot Dogs + Rollover Doughnuts
48: Grilled squid and other specialties at Andreoli Italian Grocer
47: I-10 Nachos at Cocina 10
46: Coffee made from ROC2 beans
45: The Haturo Sub Sandwich at Cheese 'n Stuff
44: Zookz at Zookz
43: Jade Red Chicken at Chino Bandido
42: Tasting menu at Quiessence at The Farm
41: Single-origin Papua New Guinea Bar at Zak's Chocolate
40: Green chile at Casa Reynoso
39: Brûlée burger from Paradise Valley Burger Company
38: Hand-pulled noodles from China Magic Noodle House
37: Carne adovada sliders at Dick's Hideaway
36: Crispy Pig Ear and Amaro cocktails from Crudo
35: Chile-laced specialties from Cafe Ga Hyang
34: Martinis at AZ88
33: Nooner at Duck & Decanter
32: Eggs Maximilian at Harlow's Cafe
31: Beef Tacos from Asadero Norte De Sonora
30: Orange Blossom from Huss Brewing Company
29: Rye bread from Yasha From Russia
28: Scotch Beef and Mashed Potatoes from Tarbell's
27: Griddled Corn Cakes and Ramona Farms Super Food Salad at Phoenix City Grille
26: Soup from Reathrey Sekong
25: Lamb tongue sandwich at Haji Baba
24: The Special at Grand Avenue Pizza Company
23: Red chile at Elmer's Tacos
22: Marranitos at La Purisima Bakery
21: Kronuts from Karl's Bakery
20: Beef pies at Chou's Kitchen
19: Bavarian pretzels & schnitzel at Haus Murphy's
18: Red chili burro and sopapillas from Los Dos Molinos
17: Camelback Soda at The Sugar Bowl
16: Brisket Sandwich at Chelsea's Kitchen
15: Taco Hazz from Ta'Carbon 14: Barnone at Agritopia
14: Barnone at Agritopia
13: The Jazzy from Emerson Fry Bread