Best Margaritas 2022 | Crujiente Tacos | La Vida | Phoenix
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Debby Wolvos

You can find margaritas everywhere, from upscale cocktail bars to basic chain restaurants. But if you want good margaritas served along great food in a fun atmosphere, Crujiente Tacos in Arcadia is the go-to. The tiny eatery's signature margarita is the Premier Cru. Elegant in its simplicity, the margarita contains blue agave tequila, house agave syrup, fresh-squeezed lime, and muddled orange. We recommend experiencing it during happy hour, when it's a couple bucks less than usual. But Crujiente's other margaritas are worth trying, too: the guava margarita is sweet without being cloying, and the Arcadia Margarita with cucumber, cilantro, and jalapeño is bright and spicy. All of them strike a perfect balance: you can taste and feel the tequila without it overpowering the other ingredients or making the drink too strong. Any of the margaritas on the menu match perfectly with Crujiente's award-winning food, which includes inventive tacos (think crunchy lamb and grilled pork belly) and tasty snacks like queso with chorizo.

Meagan Simmons

It can be hard being an imbiber on a budget. Drinks plus tips add up fast, unless you're enjoying the house rocks margarita at Mi Patio in the Melrose District. The longtime neighborhood favorite serves the margarita in a hurricane glass with a salt rim for the low price of $3.19. And it's great — tasty, well-balanced, and you'll notice a pleasantly warm feeling starting to spread through your chest after the first one. If you want to splurge, the extra-large version is, well, larger and still only costs $6. We recommend using them to wash down Mi Patio's delicious family-style Mexican food; we're partial to the taco salad and the Baja spinach and feta cheese chimichanga.

With two locations in the Valley, El Rancho Market IGA is an excellent resource for groceries or prepared meals in a one-stop shop. Both the Chandler and Phoenix locations have weekly specials on meats for that barbecue — carne asada, pork spare ribs, and marinated chicken legs, to mention a few. You can buy them from the frozen section or pull a number and wait for one of the butchers to weigh and wrap up the selected freshly chopped protein. Veggies and fruits are stocked daily. During a recent three-day weekend, mangoes, jalapeño peppers, Roma tomatoes, and onions all cost less than $1 per pound — meaning you can whip up that mango salsa for practically nothing. El Rancho's locations make fresh salsas, guacamole, and tortillas from scratch every day. And if the shoppers are pressed for time and late for their own fiesta, no worries: The deli and bakery have freshly made items ready to serve. In addition, the supermarket carries a wide selection of cold domestic and imported brews to tame the spicy salsa. ¡Buen provecho!

Best Place to Buy a Virgin of Guadalupe

Autom

Keep your eyes peeled, and you'll see the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe all over metro Phoenix — in art galleries and on murals, painted on lowriders and hanging, in jewelry form, around the necks of believers. If you want your own version, check out Autom, a Catholic supply store in southwest Phoenix. Autom does most of its business online, but you can visit the store to see the goods in person. The image of the Virgin is available in the form of statues, charms, wall art, rosaries, tote bags, and more. And while you're there, you can check out the wide selection of Bibles, home decor, holiday items, and gifts, all of which can help add a bit of the sacred into your everyday life.

We often go out carrying an exquisite hand-tooled leather purse. The warm brown leather has a rose design, and the petals and stem are dyed with red-pink and green hues. It never fails to garner compliments, and when admirers ask where we got it, we tell them that we found it at Mexican Arts Imports. The family-owned business has been open for 60 years, and they source the goods from artists in six Mexican states. And the goods are great. Besides clothing and accessories, you can find housewares, wall art, outdoor decor, all types of stuff with Frida Kahlo's face on it, papel picado in various sizes, and Día de los Muertos decorations. They've upgraded their website, but you should definitely visit the deceptively large Phoenix storefront in person, and make sure you leave plenty of time to explore everything Mexican Arts Imports has to offer.

Birthday parties and festivities aren't the same without piñatas to smash on with that colorfully wrapped stick. So hit up one of three Dulceria La Bonita spots in the Valley for a great spread of piñatas. They've got various colorways in the old school eight-pointed ball and star types, plus trendier motifs based on popular characters like the Minions gang, Batman, Baby Shark, and so many more. And since dulceria means candy store, the local chain has everything you need to fill whatever piñata you choose, including a wide selection of American sweets and a fascinating assortment of Mexican goodies. We have to build in extra time to examine all the delicious-looking yet unfamiliar treats. Besides piñatas and the stuff to fill them, the warehouses in Phoenix and Mesa also sell Mexican chips, cookies, party tableware, and decor.

Since opening in 2020, Churros Don Lencho has quickly become a churro go-to, drawing crowds to its practically middle-of-nowhere location. Parked most nights behind an AutoZone on Lower Buckeye Road, the food truck's location may not be fancy, but the churros are. Thin, crispy, and just the right amount of dense, the freshly fried doughy delights could easily pass for a fancy dessert at an upscale resort. Founder Edwin Tlaseca got the idea to make churros during a trip to Jalisco, Mexico, where his family is from. Afterward, he got down to recipe-testing until he had the perfect crispy-on-the-outside, soft-in-the-middle balance. Not only are they a deal — get 12 churros ($12), six churros ($6), filled churros ($2), or the churro sundae ($9), a six-churro treat topped with ice cream, whipped cream, and sprinkles — the treats are vegan, meaning even more people can experience what Churros Don Lencho has to offer.

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