Best Churro 2018 | Dilla Libre | La Vida | Phoenix
Gypsy Restaurant Group

Looking for the most irresistible churro in town? Head to north-central Phoenix to feast on the signature dessert at Dilla Libre: a cajeta-stuffed churro. The churro is fried to order and tossed in a blend of brown sugar and cinnamon. It's served with a berry dipping sauce on the side, which adds a sweet and tangy element to an already delicious dessert. Crisp, sweet, and slightly chewy, it's a churro that will likely set off every pleasure point in your brain.

You can't beat the paleta selection at Paletas Betty, which specializes in producing handmade Mexican ice pops using high-quality fresh fruits. The shop avoids concentrates, powders, and premade juices, and you can definitely taste the difference. Some of the shop's top sellers include sandia (watermelon), pepino (cucumber), and fresa con crema (strawberry and cream). You'll also find unique blends like mango con chile and a creamy arroz con leche (rice pudding). Paletas Betty also sells its own take on Mexican aguas frescas, called Agua Vita, a refreshing blend of white tea with fresh fruit.

You haven't really lived until you've eaten a Mexican raspado, which is kind of like a regular shaved ice on steroids. You'll find excellent raspados at this small, north-central Phoenix restaurant and sweets shop. The selection of fruity flavors is extensive, ranging from standards like tamarindo, strawberry, and coconut to salty-sweet blends like diablitos (a spicy and tangy mix featuring chamoy and hot sauce). The raspados are topped with big chunks of fresh fruit, along with garnishes like shredded coconut and sweetened condensed milk. You'll also find seasonal flavors, including a wintertime eggnog.

This friendly south Phoenix carnicería offers an excellent selection of high-quality meats. The meat case is packed tightly with a neatly labeled assortment of Mexican sausages (including homemade longaniza and chorizo), beef, chicken, various steak cuts, pork, tripe, and pretty much everything else you need to make carne asada, menudo, pozole, or whatever happens to be on the menu. Carniceria Los Amigos also carries harder-to-find meats, including godorniz (quail) and buche (pig stomach). Even if you're not planning a family barbecue, you may want to swing by for a quick taco or burrito infusion. The carnicería sells some excellent carryout barbacoa, carne asada, carnitas, and pollo asado.

Timur Guseynov

There are seven locations of Los Altos Ranch Market in metro Phoenix, including the flagship market on south Central Avenue. In terms of selection and quality, Los Altos Ranch Market's inventory of Mexican and Latin American products and produce is unbeatable. This location features an in-house cremería (creamery) where you can shop for an assortment of fresh cheeses; a tortilleria and panadería where you can pick up fresh tortillas, breads, and pastries; and a sprawling food court where you can dine in or carry out Mexican entrees like pollo asado, chiles rellenos, burritos, and taco meats. A trip around the produce section is a highlight of any Los Altos Ranch Market visit; fresh herbs and fruits not widely available in other Valley grocery stores, including the likes of hoja santa and epazote, are always on hand here.

Lauren Cusimano

Serious fans of Mexican cooking will want to make a pilgrimage to El Mercado de Los Cielos, a lively food court located inside Desert Sky Mall in west Phoenix. The sprawling boutique marketplace is home to more than a dozen Mexican food stalls, selling everything from thick, sturdy Mexico City-style machete quesadillas to Sinaloan-style Mexican sushi. Enjoy whipped fruit licuados from La Carreta de Lily; carne asada tacos from La Cosinita; and the enormous seafood platters at Mariscos La Phoenikera. If you're craving it, chances are you'll find it at El Mercado de Los Cielos. And when you're done eating, you can easily spend an hour or two browing the wares of dozens of local merchants.

This tiny, unassuming south-side panadería is well-stocked with a fresh assortment of baked goods, including Mexican breads, cakes, and pastries. Stop by for notably fresh and fluffy bolillo rolls, pillowy conchas, creamy tres leches cake, and some of the best fruit-stuffed empanadas in the city. Looking for a quick birthday cake? Panadería y Pastelería La Mejor carries an assortment of grab-and-go cakes and cupcakes. On the weekends, the kitchen makes a terrific white corn menudo, which you can enjoy in the shop's small dining area. The panadería offers great value, too — a dozen fresh Mexican pastries will set you back less than $10.

No matter what kind of Mexican candy you're on the hunt for, chances are you'll find it at Dulceria La Bonita, a wholesale candy retailer that is open to the public. Behind its nondescript exterior, this candy warehouse is stocked with a vast assortment of Mexican candies, snacks, toys, and party decorations. Among the bulk items, you'll find iconic Mexican brand candies like Tres Reyes, La Imperial, De La Rosa, and Lucas.

Palabras is a unique gathering place in central Phoenix, a bright, energetic space that caters to the community while providing an invaluable resource for the city's large Spanish-speaking population. The book selection veers toward titles in Spanish and English that promote diversity and social and cultural awareness. There's other merchandise for sale, too, including shirts, home goods, and work by local artists. Palabras offers far more than just what it sells, though. The space is home to programming like POC (people of color) open mics, language classes, and writing nights for both Spanish and English writers. We're lucky to have it in the Valley.

We love accenting our home with beautiful Mexican handicrafts; what we don't love is when those "Mexican handicrafts" are actually mass-produced in a factory overseas. Fortunately, we have stores like Mercado Mexico in the southeast Valley, where the real thing is available (and at great prices, to boot). There's a little bit of everything here, from piñatas, colorful blankets, and Dia de los Muertos figurines to vibrant dishware, rustic pottery, and outdoor decor. We often lose track of time roaming the aisles of Mercado Mexico, looking for that next perfect acquisition and admiring the craftsmanship of our neighbors to the south.

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