Ta'Carbon
Katie Johnson

There's a reason why the parking lot in front of Ta'Carbon is always packed to the gills. The Sonoran-style menu features some of the city's best tacos, including standards like mesquite-grilled carne asada, barbacoa, and al pastor. And you'll definitely want to drop in for the taqueria's healthy selection of top-notch offal tacos. Try Ta'Carbon's lush, melty lengua (beef tongue) tacos, and crispy tripitas (beef intestines) tacos. Of course, if they're available, you'll want to try the huevos de becerro (calf fries) tacos at least once. They have a soft, eggy quality and subtly mineral flavor that is surprisingly delicious.

If you're looking for your next favorite bowl of hangover menudo, look no further than Menuderia Guanajuato. This mom-and-pop restaurant delivers a truly wonderful menudo rojo, which comes generously furnished with melty, extra-savory slivers of tripe and pancita (stomach). The meat is steeped in a fragrant red chile broth with hominy (you also can request it without hominy). The fragrant stew is flecked with fresh cilantro, and comes with your choice of bread or freshly pressed corn tortillas. There aren't many better ways to spend a Sunday morning than nursing a hot bowl of this comforting stew.

Metro Phoenix isn't home to a surplus of pozolerias, restaurants that specialize in the quintessentially Mexican pork hominy stew. Thank goodness, then, for Pozoleria Mexican Food, an east-side counter-service restaurant where you'll find some of the best homestyle pozole in the city. There are three varieties to choose from — white, red, and green — and all three are superb. The most popular variety, though, is the red, which features a deeply flavorful and spicy red chile broth. No matter which one you select, it's topped with a crisp chicharrón and some fresh avocado.

Otro Cafe
Jacob Tyler Dunn

Elote callejero, or street corn, is a classic Mexican street snack that's become subject to countless interpretations. The version of elote cajellero at Otro Café, though, is one of the best in town. Chef Doug Robson's rendition involves a simple, wood-grilled ear of corn, which is lightly dressed in a salty, savory blend of mayonnaise and cotija cheese. A light dusting of paprika adds a tinge of peppery heat and smoke. Every bite is crisp and juicy, a potent reminder of why elote remains one of Mexico's most classic and ubiquitous street foods.

Sushi Sonora

Sushi Sonora, one of the first Mex-sushi restaurants in metro Phoenix, makes the kind of cheesy, deep-fried rolls that Mex-sushi fanatics daydream about. The menu is huge, but don't miss the Dinamita ("dynamite") roll, a tempura-battered and deep-fried roll stuffed with cooked shrimp, cream cheese, and avocado. The most indulgent thing on the menu is probably the Percheron roll, named after the much-loved, oversize draft horse. The sushi roll, which resembles a small burrito, is stuffed with carne asada, pollo, bacon, and avocado, all of it glued together with enormous amounts of melted cheese. Your taste buds may never recover.

In a city chock-full of bacon-wrapped hot dogs — the unofficial street food of the Arizona-Sonora borderlands — Lupita's Hot Dogs is a standout purveyor. The bacon-wrapped dogs are grilled to a juicy consistency, and topped generously with well-seasoned beans, onion, tomato, mayo, and melted cheese. The dogs are safely encased in a soft, lightly sweet toasted split-top roll. There's also a full toppings bar where you can heap even more fixings onto Lupita's formidable Sonoran dog.

This modest west-side marisqueria brings the flavors of Sinaloa's famed resort city to the Arizona desert. The menu is enormous, spanning botanas frias (cold snacks), seafood cocktails, aguachile and ceviches, and surf-and-turf parrilladas (beef and seafood served on a small tabletop grill). Don't miss the discada de mariscos, a sizzling seafood platter of well-seasoned calamari, shrimp, sea snail, and octopus topped with grilled onions and peppers. Boldly flavored and scrupulously fresh, the seafood dishes at Mariscos El Malecón de Mazatlan make it a must-visit for dedicated mariscos aficionados.

Centrico
Pete Salaz

Nopales are a staple ingredient of Mexican cooking, yet the cactus pads are still something of a rare find on many Valley Mexican menus. Not so at Centrico, the Mexican cafe inside the historic San Carlos Hotel in downtown Phoenix. The kitchen serves up a terrific steak and nopales taco. The grilled skirt steak is chopped up into blistering nubs, topped with juicy strips of grilled cactus punched up with chipotle salsa, and served over buttery flour tortillas. It's a great taco, one that skillfully makes use of grilled nopal to add a pleasingly smoky and tart dimension to a familiar dish.

Best Tortilla Chips at a Grocery Store

Food City

Food City

What makes the tortilla chips at Food City so special? The magic is in their consistency — no matter which of the more than 20 Valley locations of Food City you visit, you can leave with the satisfaction of knowing exactly what to expect: a bag of thin, shatteringly crisp tortilla chips. Nicely salted and always fresh, the tortilla chips are the kind of snack food that tends to disappear quickly at family barbecues and picnics.

This friendly south Phoenix coffeehouse offers a small but strong menu of flavorful and unique Mexican-inspired coffee and tea drinks. Lattes (available hot or iced) are delicious, including cafe con leche, made with Nescafe and espresso. Don't miss the Caramelo Mio, a smooth, velvety drink made with Mexican caramel. The Agave Mesquite, featuring locally made mesquite syrup, has a deep, earthy sweetness. The coffeehouse also offers a small selection of pan dulce and light breakfast and lunch snacks, along with a small menu of refreshing limonadas.

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