Food City
This El Mirage Food City offers an authentic taste of Mexico in its little snack bar, tortillería, and throughout its grocery aisles. Stop by early any day of the week for a bag of fresh roasted whole green chilies, the perfect ingredient for homemade green chile. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a bag of fresh pan dulce to enjoy with your morning cup of cafe. You can also find cooking essentials, such as large pots suitable for cooking menudo or steaming tamales, and nearly any ingredient for a Mexican meal that is simply delicioso!
The Mission
Jackie Mercandetti
Everybody already knows that The Mission is one of Old Town's sexiest dinner destinations — those chandeliers and candles everywhere create a moody, decadent kind of glamour — but it's just as cool a hangout during the day. We're huge fans of the weekend brunch menu, which has some unique and unforgettable dishes. Crave savory in the a.m.? Go for the delicious scrambled eggs with chorizo, grilled flour tortillas, and chipotle grits, red chile chilaquiles topped with a gooey fried egg, or delicate corn pancakes topped with Dungeness crab, fresh cilantro, and lip-smacking smoked Oaxacan pasilla crema. Or, if you like to start your day with a little sugar, try the dessert-like cinnamon pecan waffles with dulce de leche crema. Expertly crafted brunch cocktails like mimosas and the "Mission Mary," as well as French press coffee, are worth lingering over.
La Hacienda at the Fairmont
A lot of hearts were broken when La Hacienda, the iconic fine-dining spot at the Fairmont, closed in 2008. But in January, the grand dame returned to the Valley scene looking refreshed and ready for another turn in the spotlight. This time, the restaurant has acclaimed executive chef Richard Sandoval — a Mexico City native who's famous for his modern Mexican cuisine, with more than a dozen eateries around the world — as well as chef de cuisine Forest Hamrick, who was with the restaurant when it previously earned the elite AAA Four Diamond award for three years running. They've crafted a menu that interprets traditional dishes for a sophisticated contemporary palate. Here, the classic red snapper dish, Huachinango a la Veracruzana, comes with smoked bacon fufu and tomato olive caper sauce, while crispy corn sopes topped with carnitas are embellished with black bean puree, Napa cabbage, and pickled onion.

Best Neighborhood Mexican Restaurant, Central Phoenix

La Tolteca

La Tolteca
Jackie Mercandetti
Ambitious is the word that comes to mind when we think of La Tolteca, an affordable spot close to downtown that goes the extra mile to give customers the Mexican food they crave. Love tacos and burritos? Sure, they've got 'em, from basics like carne asada and shredded chicken to more exotic fillings like tripa (tripe), lengua (tongue) and cabeza (head). La Tolteca does huge tortas on fresh telera (there's an in-house bakery here, natch), sopes, quesadillas, tamales, and a slew of combo platters, too. They do a killer Mexican breakfast, as well. We're sure we're forgetting to mention something because La Tolteca just has so much — but that's the beauty of it.

Best Neighborhood Mexican Restaurant, South Phoenix

Los Dos Molinos

Los Dos Molinos
Lauren Saria
Here's a place that's got the laid-back, fun vibe of a great neighborhood spot with all the pizzazz and unforgettable food of a destination restaurant. Whether you live nearby or just feel like heading south, Los Dos Molinos will feed you well and send you home with a proper food coma, thanks to fiery New Mexican-style cuisine and huge margaritas to quell the heat. Sure, you can find a few mild things on the menu, but why not go wild with spicy machaca or lip-smacking carne adovada, tender chunks of pork marinated in red chile? Even the chips and salsa will put some color into your cheeks. We'd like to tell you more, but we're making ourselves hungry. Just hit up Los Dos and you'll understand our obsession.

Best Neighborhood Mexican Restaurant, West Valley

Pepe's Taco Villa

Pepe's Taco Villa
Natalie Miranda
Oh, Pepe, you know what we like. Amazing chicken enchiladas with deep, dark mole negro, tender pork carnitas, heaping plates of green chile beef with rice and beans, and spicy, filling breakfast dishes (like kicky huevos rancheros) that've never done us wrong. We're especially fans of the unique Taco Monterrey, with dried beef, scrambled eggs, chiles, tomatoes, and onions wrapped up in a soft flour tortilla — that hits the spot no matter what time of day it is (although it always makes us ready for a siesta after we've filled our bellies).

Best Neighborhood Mexican Restaurant, Southeast Valley

Si Senor

Si Senor Restaurant
We're so happy that the Castillo family decided to expand its Las Cruces, New Mexico-based business to the Valley, because Si Senor is one of the top spots to try spicy dishes made with our neighboring state's famous Hatch chile peppers. Red chile pork, with moist chunks of meat in an alluring, rich roasted chile sauce, and green chile beef, studded with bits of chile, are two must-tries, as is anything blanketed in Si Senor's beloved sauces — chimichangas, enchiladas, rellenos, and more. Sure, it's hot enough to make your lips catch on fire, but why not go for it when there's a menu full of thirst-quenching margaritas? As an added bonus, complimentary sopaipillas end the meal on a sweet note.

Best Neighborhood Mexican Restaurant, Tempe

Moreno's Mexican Grill

Moreno's Mexican Grill
Moreno's is unexpectedly charming when you set foot in this strip mall spot near the ASU campus — faux stone details, cozy booths, and a fresh salsa bar are just a few of the details that make it better than your average Mexican joint. The menu is broader and more interesting, too, with a variety of sopes, tostadas, cheese crisps, and tortas to round out the list of burros and tacos. Better yet, they offer fillings like lengua (tongue), adobada (grilled pork), and cabeza (head) along with the usual suspects. To drink, there are aguas frescas like jamaica and strawberry, ladled out of huge glass jars. And get this — Moreno's features a bacon-wrapped Sonoran-style hot dog, too, eliminating the need to hunt down the regional treat at a food truck. Why go anywhere else when Moreno's seems to have it all?

Best Neighborhood Mexican Restaurant, Scottsdale

Habanero's Mexican Grill

Every neighborhood should be so lucky to have a family-owned Mexican joint like Habanero's, a special little gem in North Scottsdale. Here, owner Arturo Diaz serves up recipes he brought to the states from Jalisco, Mexico, where his parents ran taco stands. And, yes, Habaneros does tacos brilliantly, from carne asada, fish, and excellent carnitas de Jalisco to blackened shrimp with chipotle sauce and pico de gallo. Sink your teeth into a burrito, plump with chorizo, refried beans, and pico, or put some color into your cheeks with fragrant red chile tamales. Or, if you're hankering for straight-up protein, get the parrillada tampiqueña, a meat-lover's fantasy of grilled steak, chicken, chorizo, and carnitas.

Best Mexican Restaurant Decor con Queso

Casa Reynoso

Casa Reynoso
Natalie Miranda
We've lauded Casa Reynoso in the past for its comidas muy auténticas, yummy, old family recipes from the Mexican-cuisine-heavy Globe-Miami area. And, indeed, the tacos filled with beef shredded to near-pâté consistency and not a speck of cheese, the meticulously roasted green chile dishes, and the traditional scorching-hot plates are a dependable comfort in an almost deserted strip mall. But look around a bit, and hope no pickers or dealers will read this section. From hand-tooled leather chairs in the lobby to random macramé fake-plant hangers, serapes, dozens of family photos going waaaaay back (some of those cherubic little girls have got to be cougars by now), and — hey, that's an actual saddle by the cash register — the huge mirror surrounded with incongruous pastel Capodimonte porcelain flowers . . . well, it all makes the original bullfighter painting you'll spy on the way to the restroom seem a little low-key by comparison.

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