Best Carnicería 2015 | Carnicería Sonora | La Vida | Phoenix

As much as we like to think we're mavens in the kitchen and can whip up a flavorful marinade on the fly to go with any meat, our grill thanks us every time we get our carne asada from the folks at Carnicería Sonora. Buy it preparada (as in drenched in their own marinade) or try your hand at your own seasoning. Either way, this butcher shop is ready to stock your next tailgate party or afternoon spent grilling on the patio, with a selection of beef, chicken and pork products, prepared salsas, fantastic guacamole made on the premises, and 12-packs of BBQ-appropriate beer. It doesn't get any easier, or better-tasting than this.

Timur Guseynov

Calling Los Altos Ranch Market a grocery store is like calling the Great Wall of China a fence. This massive food emporium contains everything one might need for a fantastic Mexican meal: fresh epazote, dried avocado leaves, freshly made tortillas, masa to make your own tamales, 20 kinds of dried chiles, giant whole beef heads . . . Dig a little through every flavor-packed aisle and you'll be rewarded with whole cacao beans, dry purple Peruvian corn for making chicha morada, and every type of bean used in Latin America.

Nothing makes us think of a childhood spent in Mexico more than entering a panadería, grabbing a round aluminum tray, a pair of tongs, and getting busy picking out favorites from the racks and cases brimming with freshly baked pan de dulce, cookies, and individual cakes. From flaky palmeras and sturdy, nearly overfilled empanadas to airy, fragrant sugar-topped conchas amd crusty-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside bolillo rolls, Panaderia y Tortilleria Guerrero nails them all.

2829 North 32nd Street, #30

Nothing pairs as well with spicy Mexican food as a tall glass of horchata. Sure, a margarita will get the job done, but when you're sweating bullets and looking for something to cool the flames in your mouth, there's only one drink that can really meet your needs. When you consider that La Santisima Gourmet Taco Shop (with another location in Glendale) is known for having some of the best salsas in town, it makes sense that the restaurant also has some of the best horchata. It's not your standard pre-mixed agua fresca. The restaurant's version is loaded with fruit and pecans, giving it a depth of flavor that's seriously unique. There's no grittiness to the rice-based drink, just a hint of melon, and a nutty flavor that's perfect when balanced by a salsa-drenched taco or two.

Allison Young

From start to finish, chef Silvana Salcido Esparza delivers Mexican cuisine at its finest at her longstanding Central Phoenix restaurant. You'll want to begin the experience with an order of the award-winning guacamole and finish with the churros rellenos de cajeta de cabra. The dessert comes with two churros dusted in cinnamon sugar. The combination of hot, doughy churros and scoops of vanilla ice cream should be tantalizing enough, but Esparza ups the ante by filling each churro with cajeta de carba, or goat's milk caramel. You're going to want more of this thick, gooey sauce than can fit inside the deep-fried sticks of dough, and luckily, Esparza also drizzles some over the ice cream and the plate. We suggest dipping the churros in the pool of nutty, caramel sauce. We've been known to eat it straight off our spoon when the rest of the dessert's all gone.

Minerva Rincon

If you're still thinking that a raspado is just the Mexican version of a Slurpee, you need to step out of the convenience store and find yourself a real raspado shop. We wish our corner 7-Eleven had chunks of tamarindo swirled into the cups of ice, or thick strawberry or mango syrups with — you guessed it — real fruit in them. But it just doesn't. And until it does, we'll be hitting Raspados Paradise Mexican Restaurant for our icy treats. Just don't judge us for choosing to have it topped with a sweet drizzle of Lechera, sweetened condensed milk.

If it seems the paleta game is a one-woman show in the Valley, that's because it is. Drawing from her upbringing in Michoacán, the paleta and ice cream epicenter of Mexico, Betty Alatorre de Hong, has been creating seasonal and addictive frozen fruit treats since 2010, stamping each one with her signature bite mark, earning national press, and even taking the time to create a perroleta for her canine clients. We can't say no to the refreshing pepino paleta, the rum-spiked piña colada, or a classic pure mango paleta, but we like to check back to see what seasonal treats Betty has in her freezer.

Heather Hoch

Did you set out to eat every bit of Mexican tamarindo candy ever made? Or just have a need to feed your inner Mexican Willy Wonka? Dulceria Arcoiris has you covered with more Mexican candy — in all its sweet, salty, and spicy (sometimes all at the same time) glory — than you ever imagined was possible. Row after row of colorful packages fill this open-to-the-public wholesale shop at affordable enough prices to make sweet treats at your next bash a breeze, including the ice cream and always welcome fruity Mexican sugar cane sodas.

If you're not happy with the thought of smashing into a traditional star-shaped piñata, with colorful streamers flying from each of its cones, the folks at Importaciones Valentinas are here to make your custom piñata come to life. Bring in a photo, sketch, or just describe the piñata of your dreams and browse the impressive selection of imported Mexican candy with which to stuff the papier-mâché creation. Time to get that blindfold, stick, and first aid kit ready; it's going to be a smashing good time.

There are yerberias that focus largely on the mystical aspects of healing, and then there's Yerberia Botanica Gloria 2, an incense-perfumed shop heavily stocked with obscure herbs, barks, and seeds, as well as high-quality nutritional supplements, tinctures, and essential oils. Have a question as to what is best for an upset stomach, allergy attack, or unsightly rash? The two knowledgeable ladies behind the counter are there to help. And just in case you need an extra level of healing, there is an ample selection of religious votives for every need, as well as rosaries and religious imagery.

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