Scottsdale resident Dennis Gilman is used to being threatened by nativists. They've called his house. Posted his address on the Internet. And whenever he shows up at, say, the Macehualli Day Labor Center in north Phoenix, where vicious nativist groups such as United for a Sovereign America keep vigil with their guns, he attracts them like a magnet, and the verbal abuse often seems close to spilling over into violence.

Being that he's as Irish as a pint of Guinness, Gilman doesn't like to back down. Also, as he'll tell you if you ask, you'd get better footage when you're up in their faces. See, Gilman is the Michael Moore of the local pro-immigration movement. His weapon is a video camera, and he uses it to expose the hate and prejudice in Arizona that seem as plentiful as scorpions. The footage he edits ends up on his YouTube channel HumanLeague002. Because of his efforts, thousands have seen the raw ugliness of the immigration debate at ground zero. Activists from around the world now seek out his mini-documentaries. And he often scores footage that the local and national news media pick up after the fact. He's what more journalists used to be: scrappy, defiant, and beholden to no one.

We have to give it up to former state Senator Alfredo Gutierrez for creating this bilingual Web site, one representing the future of Arizona and the Southwest. La frontera refers to the border, and Gutierrez stretches the meaning to encompass the exchange of culture, news, and language that occurs in states like ours — where America meets Mexico, English meets Spanish, and Anglo meets Hispanic. There's immigration, Sheriff Joe, and Arizona politics from a Latino perspective, but there are also pieces on art, literature, popular music, and food. Much of the site is in English, but there's plenty in Spanish as well. The result is a Web site that brings people together — in a cool, non-schmaltzy way — rather than pushing them apart. And if we gabachos pick up a word or two of español in the process, that can't be a bad thing, now, can it?

There's nothing quite like dining al fresco. The fresh air, the stars, and a killer view are all part of the deal. At Nogales Hot Dogs #2, the view may consist of cars whizzing by, but, hey, that's all part of the charm. For seven years, Pablo Perez has been dishing up a little slice of heaven known as the Sonoran-style hot dog. Tucked into a fresh bun and wrapped in bacon, these babies come smothered in beans, mayonnaise, and chopped tomatoes. Feel free to load up with guacamole, salsa, two kinds of cheese, and more. Meaty, messy, and marvelous, these pockets of perfection are a measly $2.75 a pop. Pablo's even got a TV tuned to the latest telenovela, so take a load off and stay a while. We never said dining in a parking lot would be fancy, but these dogs sure make it worthwhile.

Best Place to Get Drive-Thru on a Bicycle

Antonio's Mexican Food

Antonio's Mexican Food

Fast-food joints like to get their dictator on whenever a non-automobile attempts to order at the drive-thru. Not so at Antonio's, which won't discriminate against folks who roll up on two wheels. Basically a Filiberto's clone, this spot on 16th and Roosevelt streets serves bicycle-riding or walk-up customers 24 hours a day as they look to satisfy their cravings without a car.

The Tamale Store

We're not saying you shouldn't keep buying a couple dozen tamales from your grandma's friend's neighbor at Christmastime. It's just that you might want to branch out a bit. Year-round, along with its location on Cave Creek Road north of Cactus, The Tamale Store operates stands at several Valley farmers markets (check their Web site for where and when). Sample a short list of flavors, buy a warm tamal or two for a strolling lunch, and stock up on easy-to-prepare frozen tamales in such flavors as chicken mole and blueberry cream cheese. They're the real deal, with corn-husk wrapping and fresh meats, cheeses, produce, and carefully chosen spices. Fluffy masa, no lard, and love and pride in every bite . . . Is there any occasion when a tamal is not the perfect food? No, friends, there is not. And it's not just our little secret, so you might want to call, fax, or e-mail ahead to make sure The Tamale Store can set aside your favorites for you.

Carolina's Mexican Food
Sarah Whitmire

Carolina's is legendary. A Phoenix institution. A family-owned business for more than 40 years. And now, it's bigger than ever. While the Mohave location remains ultra-busy, serving the downtown business crowd as well as hungry locals, and Carolina's on Cactus keeps people well fed in the North Valley, this past year has seen the addition of a third Carolina's, in Peoria. The expansion was inevitable, we think, because Carolina's tortillas make everything taste good. They're deceptively thin and fragile-looking but, boy, do they ever make good burros — somehow, they can wrap up a shocking amount of green chile with beans or chorizo with potatoes in one of the hot-off-the-griddle tortillas. Once upon a time, we're sure that Carolina's had a cult following. But these days, it's a full-fledged tortilla army.

La Tolteca
Jackie Mercandetti

We're not sure which is more fun: walking into La Tolteca to catch a whiff of fresh bread and the mouthwatering selection of baked goods displayed in cases at the front of the restaurant, or walking out with a bag full of fragrant confections that we'll inevitably devour as soon as we hop in the car. We're talking huge cookies, macaroons, rolls, fruit-filled empanadas, tortillas, and irresistible tres leches cakes, available in regular sizes and party-worthy sheets. No matter what kind of sweets we're craving, La Tolteca always has what we're looking for. And when we're lucky, it's still warm.

Best Neighborhood Mexican, Central Phoenix

Los Compadres

Los Compadres
Los Compadres

We're never too busy to get our grub on at Los Compadres. That's because this institution makes it easy to grab our favorite Mexican dishes to go. Counter service is quick, and everything's packaged to take home, even if we end up snagging a table to eat on the premises. We love the top-notch beans and rice, 10 different kinds of soul-satisfying burros (machaca's a good pick), and anything with their mouthwatering green chile beef. Better yet, the prices are so cheap that we can come here all the time and still spare a couple bucks for an order of hot, puffy sopaipillas with honey. Reliable, delicious, and cheap? It's really no wonder Los Compadres has been a local fave for more than 50 years.

Best Neighborhood Mexican, South Phoenix

Comedor Guadalajara

Comedor Guadalajara
Meagan Simmons

For as long as we can remember, Comedor Guadalajara has been the place in South Phoenix to throw a bangin' dinner party for all of your nearest and dearest — without the hassle of straightening up around the house and actually, uh, cooking. Once you set foot in this sprawling restaurant, you'll understand why it was made for a fiesta; one spacious, colorful dining room leads into another, and then another. And the menu is all about splurges, particularly the jaw-dropping parilladas, surf-and-turf grilled plates heaped with carne asada, carnitas, whole fish, lobster tail, and more. Other specialties include chicken in red mole sauce, steak picado, and chiles relleno, along with combination platters that cover the standards, like flautas, tacos, and tostadas. And don't worry if you're dining solo — Comedor Guadalajara is so festive that you'll feel like the celebration's just for you.

Pedro's Mexican Restaurant

There's a reason this cozy, family-run restaurant is such a success — it makes gluttony seem not only acceptable, but pretty much mandatory. Love the chips and salsa? They'll keep 'em coming as long as you keep munching. Got a craving for a chicken burro or a crispy chimichanga? You'll gasp when you see the size of one, stuffed almost to the point of bursting. The enchiladas are great, too, slathered in spicy sauce that's lick-the-plate good. But our favorite thing on the menu is so scrumptious that our tummy rumbles at the thought of it. It's Pedro's machaca-stuffed quesadilla, lightly grilled and oozing with meat and cheese. Pure hedonism in every bite. And at Pedro's, that's what they aim for.

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