Best Mexican Bakery 2022 | La Purisima Bakery | La Vida | Phoenix
Jamie Peachey

This local bakery shot to social media fame last year when it sold purple and orange tie-dye conchas to support the Phoenix Suns. But La Purisima has been churning out some of the best pan dulce in the Valley since 1983. Stop by the Glendale or Phoenix stores to find shelves of fresh baked and brightly colored pastries lining the counter, offering almost endless options. Cherry-filled turnovers, colorful conchas, fruit-filled empanadas, and overflowing cream puffs beg to be picked by hungry customers pointing to their selections at the busy bakery. Bags and boxes get filled quickly, making way for the next batch of baked goods to be put out on display. Regulars order their pan with a dozen tortillas for later, or a cup of fresas con crema for an extra sweet treat.


Drinking horchata at Belly, the hip Southeast Asian-inspired eatery in Phoenix's Melrose District and coming soon to Gilbert, isn't a suck-it-back experience out of a plastic cup. No, it's a slow-sipping affair that invites all your senses along for the ride. Your eyes are drawn to the backlit bar and cocktail-slinging bartenders, your ears are tuned to the buzzy chatter and techno beats, and your mouth is stunned into submission by the frosty freshness. It's both thicker and lighter than any horchata you've had before, punched up with the tangy hint of citrus. That's no accident. Made by simmering fresh-cut lemongrass and makrut lime leaves to extract as much flavor as possible, the tangy tea is then blended with house-made rice milk, coconut milk, and coconut cream for a trippy sip that adds a bright Thai spin on the traditional Mexican drink. Booze it up by adding a dark aged rum like Ron Colón. Bonus: Belly Gilbert will be offering a cinnamon and star anise version. Double bonus: Both happen to be vegan.

An agua fresca is a treat any day of the year. But a tall cup of water blended with fruit, served fresh and ice-cold, in the middle of summer? It tastes like heaven. Local chain Tortas Manantial has the aguas frescas game down; they serve them in two sizes in flavors like pineapple, papaya, grapefruit, soursop, lemon, coconut, cucumber, and more. And you know the ingredients are fresh because you can watch while the staff chops and blends the fruit for your drink. Tortas Manantial's three Valley locations also serve just juice, plus licuados (smoothies). Any of the restaurant's beverages are perfect for washing down their lineup of tasty sandwiches.

Move over, Starbucks. We know of a much better spot for sweet coffee drinks. The Van Buren location of Tres Leches Café is a bright, invigorating space with multicolored walls, a charming courtyard, and plenty of space to work, read, or catch up with a friend. The menu is filled with Mexican-style coffee creations. We love the rich Tres Aztecas, a Mexican mocha with espresso and crema, and the Cafe de Frida, a gently spiced blend of coffee and cream. If we're feeling peckish, we'll pick a Mexican pastry out of the bakery case, maybe a concha or an Oreo doncha. Tres Leches also offers the fruit smoothies known as licuados as well as aguas frescas and the hard-to-find aguas sucias, aguas frescas taken to the next level with espresso.

Jackie Mercandetti

At this tiny restaurant in north Phoenix's Sunnyslope neighborhood, a twinkle-light-strung patio beckons from the roadside. Inside, you'll find a colorful restaurant with a large menu of Oaxacan specialties. There's not one but five different kinds of mole, and the name, Las 15 Salsas Restaurant Oaxaqueno, rings true. But even more impressive is the list of mezcals on the menu. These smoky sippers are served in individual shots, in samplers, and mixed into cocktails like the Zipolite, a spicy and smoky blend of mezcal, tamarind, lime, and serrano chile. They're the perfect accompaniment to one of the restaurant's specialties, maybe an Oaxaquena torta made with three meats or a fried pork plate with rice, beans, caramelized onions, and ranchera sauce.

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


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.

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