Best Trendy Mexican Restaurant 2022 | Call Her Martina | La Vida | Phoenix
Tirion Boan

Call Her Martina, a new restaurant along the Scottsdale Waterfront, looks like a modern Mexican restaurant complete with greenery, neon signs, posters of movie stars, and sleek black furniture. But the space sounds like a nightclub. A mix of reggaeton, hip-hop, and pop hits blasts over the speakers of this trendy Old Town spot. Customers just starting their night stop by for a trio of salsas, an appetizer plate of steak-specked guacamole, or a cocktail or two. Tables of friends celebrate birthdays and go all out with orders of grilled octopus served over dramatically dark squid-ink risotto. The drinks, beautiful and balanced, steal the spotlight, while the flan topped with fresh mint drowns out the music with notes that are sweet, creamy, and rich.

Felicia Campbell

If you're focused on your driving while tooling down 16th Street (and you should be), you may miss the two food trucks camped out near Monroe Street. But the next time you're not rushing to get somewhere, stop and experience some of the best Mexican food in town. La Frontera #1 faces 16th Street, and the cash-only joint serves up tacos, burritos, vampiros, tostadas, and more. The al pastor is to die for and we usually order it packed into a burrito, but with a long list of available meats, including carne asada, cabeza (beef head), and buche (pork stomach), it'll be a long time before we run out of things to try. And speaking of options, you can take your food to go or enjoy it under the awning of the small seating area, or you can check out La Frontera #3, the food truck with a more seafood-heavy menu located in the same parking lot.

In a city with a 'Bertos on practically every corner, it's safe to say that Phoenicians have no shortage of choices when it comes to drive-thru Mexican food. But when we can, we eschew the corporate option and go for something a little more authentic (and in our opinion, way tastier). Maria's Frybread and Mexican Food is a small restaurant in east Phoenix, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in taste. The eponymous frybread is outstanding — we love it under the red chile beef, which in turn gets topped with lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese. Burritos (breakfast and non), tostadas — there's really not a bad choice here. You can eat in the homey dining room on oilcloth tablecloths, or pick up your meal in the drive-thru. Just be aware that unlike a 'Bertos, Maria's has limited hours for the dining room and the drive-thru, so make sure you time your visit well in order to try this hidden Arcadia gem.

Chris Malloy

Among the many strip mall joints of midtown Phoenix, Casa Corazon sticks out. The red-painted restaurant is housed inside an old church, complete with high ceilings and arched doorways. However now, the space welcomes the masses to celebrate the holy ritual of happy hour. From 3 to 6 p.m. on weekdays, Casa Corazon serves carne asada, al pastor, and canasta-style tacos for $4 a pop. Draft and bottled beers cost $5 and a house margarita will set you back $6. On Tuesdays, the $4 taco deal runs all day long. We suspect that you'll love the food so much that you come back for lunch or dinner, when the menu includes mouthwatering fare like Pasta Corazon with Tequila Shrimp or the house special chicken with mole negro.

Charles Barth

We don't get out to the west Valley town of El Mirage very often. But when we do, it's usually because we've been thinking about the tacos at La Bamba Mexican Grill Restaurant and we can't hold out any longer. We've written plenty about the outstanding al pastor at La Bamba, the tender meat marinated in a house-fermented pineapple vinegar. It's part of a very small menu: just a few kinds of tacos (get them Bamba style to add cheese), plus a quesadilla, a torta, and a salad. Topped with Chef Edson Garcia's red, green, and yellow sauces (red salsa, avocado salsa, and a secret salsa), tacos are accompanied by a pile of diced onions and cilantro, lime wedges, and cucumber slices. The lightly crispy shells give way to an incredible blend of flavors. Trust us when we say, these tacos are worth the drive.

Jackie Mercandetti Photo

If your experience with gorditas is limited to the ones you've had at Taco Bell, you haven't had real gorditas. At popular local chain Tacos Chiwas, the gorditas are small — about the size of a coaster — and stuffed with flavor. There's only four to choose from: two kinds of shredded beef (red sauce and green sauce) with potatoes and beans; ground beef with carrots, celery, potatoes, and beans; and the standout rajas gordita, which comes with roasted poblano peppers, Anaheim peppers, onions, asadero cheese, and beans. All offer incredible flavor with just the right amount of spice. Depending on how hungry you are, you're going to need at least two for a meal, so we recommend mixing and matching in order to experience what Tacos Chiwas has to offer.

We love melted cheese on tortilla chips, whether it's at the movie theater or a fast-food joint or a trendy eatery. But of all the nachos we've tried (and trust us, we've tried a lot), we haven't found any we like better than the chips and cheese at Cocina 10 Kitchen, the restaurant at Crescent Ballroom. Of course, there's way more to the I-10 Nachos than just chips and cheese. Order them and you'll see what we mean. The chips come buried under an avalanche of refried beans, cheddar cheese, Oaxaca cheese, cilantro, cotija cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo, and sour cream. It's messy, delicious, and more than enough to share. Add carne asada for extra flavor, then head into whatever show is going on at Crescent that evening.

Chris Malloy

Cocina Madrigal Tacos + Tequila looks like a hidden gem, except everyone knows about it, especially since Yelp put it at the top of their Top 100 Places to Eat in 2022. (By the way, that's a national list, not a local one.) The little restaurant tucked on a residential street in south Phoenix draws a crowd every day of the week. This neighborhood joint serves an eclectic menu of burgers, sandwiches, tacos, and burritos. But the enchiladas are the star: warm, soft, and unbelievably good . You get to choose from chicken, beef birria, barbacoa green chile, or wild mushroom (our favorite). You can also mix and match, the better to try what Cocina Madrigal has to offer. Each satisfying plate is served with two enchiladas, warm tortillas, rice, and beans.

Chris Malloy

You know a burrito is good when people are willing to wait in the Arizona sun for it. To order your food at El Norteño, a tiny eatery in west Phoenix, you enter a small indoor space that holds maybe two people. Then, you stand around in the parking lot until your food is ready. There's a small covered patio with a few tables, but most patrons get their food to go. Believe us when we say, the food is worth it. They open at 7:30 a.m. so folks on their way to work can grab a hearty, delicious breakfast burrito (we like the chorizo, egg, and potato). Around lunch, there's a line to order dishes like the machaca burrito (machaca is El Norteño's specialty). We like the Arizona burro, a massive, two-meal creation that includes carne asada, rice, potato, beans, sour cream, and guacamole. In addition to nearly two dozen burrito options, El Norteño offers a full menu of tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, and more. Just remember to bring cash — the establishment doesn't take credit or debit.

Jackie Mercandetti Photo

To the first person who saw a burrito and thought, "I should deep-fry this and top it with a bunch of stuff," we salute you. Their creation is one of our favorite Mexican dishes, and there's no better place to get one than at local chain Rito's. Rito's serves up enormous chimis with crispy, flaky exteriors, topped with sour cream, guacamole, shredded cheese, and diced tomatoes. You've got your choice of fillings: The red chile beef is a longtime Valley favorite, but we love the shredded chicken with green chile sauce and pico de gallo as well. Order them enchilada style (with red or green sauce) for even more flavor.

Best Of Phoenix®

Best Of