Top 10 Worst Mexican Restaurants in Metro Phoenix
Mexican American ain't all bad, but it is at these joints.
In the Valley there's amazing Mexican food from the mom 'n' pop hole-in-the-wall to blow-your-mind haute cuisine, Mexican-style. You would think that with such a wealth of delicious and accessible Mexican food on every corner, there would be no need for a "Worst Of..." list. You would be wrong.
What follows is a list of the ten worst places we have ever eaten "Mexican" food. Learn from our mistakes, and avoid these bland, Meximerican monstrosities that have the gall to call themselves Mexican restaurants. (You'll note that Filibertos and Taco Bell did not make the cut, because as much as it shames us to admit it, such fast food joints have their time and place. And that time and place is last call on a Saturday night.)
10. Julio G's If neon lights and faux '50s flair could compensate for flavor, Julio G's would be the Mexican food king. Because that's really all this place has going for it. The menu is ridiculously expensive for such standard deep-fried Meximerican fare, smothered in melted cheese and regret. We'll put it another way: if we found ourselves at Julio G's, we would order the cheeseburger before anything else on the menu.
9. El Portal Mexican Grill El Portal in downtown Phoenix (specifically, in the bottom of the Cronkite School building) must be banking on the fact that a hungry college student will eat almost anything. Perhaps most students don't care so long as the tacos are at least a little crunchy, the shredded meat inside reminds them of chicken, there's a hint of yellow-ish or orange "cheese," and a smattering of tomato bits to make it a "healthy" lunch choice. El Portal's food isn't so much bad as it is bland, and the presentation is sloppy right down to the loosely rolled burritos on the verge of flopping apart. The colors of the beans, vegetables, and meats are all muted like bad cafeteria food, and they'll take any chance they can to top your meal with a combination of cheese, grease, and more grease. Mexican food could be worse. Unpleasant flavors would certainly be worse than no flavor at all.
Offensive stereotypes notwithstanding, Tee Pee Mexican Food is best viewed from outside.
8. Jordan's Mexican Food Jordan's has been around since the '50s, and the décor and menu reflect that step back in time to when Mexican food had to be dumbed down for the gringo palate. With one foot in Jordan's, it's evident that business is suffering and the entire joint is several decades behind the times. The building boasts three separate dining areas as if waiting for a hundred people to descend, despite never being close to half-full. The salsa tastes like ketchup, and every dish is smothered in what seems to be the same bland-tasting sauce and cheap processed cheese. There's nothing authentic or delicious on the menu here, unless you too are nostaligic for the mid-century modern cooking of the '50s and '60s. (Tomato aspic, anyone?)
7. Tee Pee Mexican Food Provided your idea of Mexican food is under-seasoned ground beef tacos tossed in a preformed taco shell, just like the Ortega supermarket meal kit, you'll love Tee Pee's Mexican food! If you're looking for a place to bring Aunt Irene from the Great White North, where everything is smothered in cheese instead of flavor, you'll love Tee Pee's Mexican food! If your idea of salsa is closer to tomato sauce (hold the chiles), or if you have ever seen someone mix cottage cheese or sour cream into their "guacamole," you'll love Tee Pee's Mexican food! Seriously. Unless you're from the Midwest and have never pronounced the double "ll" in quesadilla correctly, or if you've reached an age of seniority where you don't have sensation in most of your taste buds, avoid Tee Pee. It had its time and place, and that was several decades ago.