Best Guacamole 2023 | Call Her Martina | La Vida | Phoenix
Tirion Morris

The guacamole at Scottsdale restaurant Call Her Martina is about so much more than the avocado. Yes, the guac itself is creamy, well-balanced and delicious. But the cascade of ribeye chicharrones poured overtop along with a scattering of pomegranate seeds takes this dip to the next level. All together, the combination is smooth, salty and savory with pops of sweetness, and good enough to eat on its own. Pair this decadent dip with a craft cocktail at this upscale, swanky Mexican restaurant. Grab a seat at the bar and tuck in as you enjoy the people-watching during an evening in Old Town.

To the uninitiated, Mexican sushi can be a bit of a shock. As we wrote in 2016, it's a "Mexican-Japanese fusion concept whose hallmark is the deep-fried sushi roll, stuffed with unconventional ingredients like steak and bacon and generously garnished with boldly flavored sauces." The best examples of the genre that we've found are in Phoenix at Sushinola Roll's two locations. The Sushinola Roll menu is divided into three main sections: natural rolls, bread rolls and baked rolls. Like traditional sushi — and traditional Mexican food, for that matter — Mexican sushi tends to use a core group of ingredients in many different menu items. We love the Crispy Roll, which blends spicy crab salad, seaweed, shrimp, avocado, cucumber, cream cheese and rice, topped with breaded shrimp, spicy eel sauce, crispy onions and chipotle sauce. The quintessential Mexican sushi roll is the Cielo, Mar Y Tierra (Sky, Sea and Land), a heavily breaded, dense combination of avocado, cucumber, cream cheese, chicken, meat and shrimp. Make sure you come hungry.

Lauren Cusimano

Ask anyone in town for a Mexican seafood recommendation, and Mariscos Playa Hermosa will likely be their response. And for good reason: This colorful spot has earned its place at the top of the Phoenix mariscos mountain. The massive selection of always-fresh seafood spans cold ceviches and aguachiles to bacon-wrapped shrimp, saucy seafood entrees and whole fried fish. Seafood dishes pair perfectly with drinks such as the Spicy Mami, a watermelon and chiltepin blend; the La Ofrenda, a black-colored margarita; or the absinthe mojito. Bring a crowd and plan to share at this high-energy spot. On weekends or occasions, plan ahead and reserve a table because although Mariscos Playa Hermosa is large, big groups often fill up the space with birthday parties and celebrations.

Who said the pick for ceviche had to be Mexican? His sojourn to the West Valley now complete, Chef Oscar Graham recently opened Tumi 2.0 in the space that once housed the original Contigo Peru, and he's brought his wild, eclectic Peruvian ceviche with him. No shade thrown at the scads of excellent ceviches around town, but there's an extra little thrill to citrus-cured seafood when it's piled with slivered onions, slabs of sweet potato, crunchy cancha and boiled corn kernels the size of marbles. Of course, all the whiz-bang in the world doesn't mean a thing if the flavor isn't there, but Graham's ceviches are perfectly balanced. His signature ceviche, the Orgía de Mariscos (it means exactly what you think it means), adds a healthy dose of pisco to a tart and explosive mix of finfish, bivalves and shellfish perked up with Peruvian rocoto chile.

Jamie Peachey

The family-owned bakery has been making breads, burritos, cakes and pastries for 40 years at locations in Glendale and Phoenix. The bakery case is a delight for the senses, with twisted, glazed and sprinkled sweets. Behind the counter is an array of conchas, the light-as-air Mexican sweet breads that are painted with crunchy, colorful flavored sugars. Beyond cranking out primo pastries, we appreciate the bakery's Phoenix Suns pride. When our NBA team again found itself in the playoffs this year, we stocked up on purple and orange conchas for our watch parties and could rock some hand-drawn swag, like a "Vamos Suns" T-shirt featuring Go the Gorilla riding next to a concha in a convertible. The Suns may not have taken the championship, but those conchas, and the swag from La Purisima and artist Jon Garza, helped soften the blow.

Tirion Morris

Horchata isn't generally hot pink, but at Emilio's Tacos & Hotdogs, the strawberry-packed version is worth straying from the original. The classic rice, vanilla, milk and cinnamon mixture is blended with fresh strawberries and ice for a treat that lands somewhere between a smoothie and a dessert. A swirl of red strawberry syrup solidifies the argument for the latter. Grab this pink drink on the run by passing through Emilio's drive-thru or head inside the tiny, colorful joint and pair this treat with some tacos, carne asada fries or one of the top Sonoran hot dogs in town.

We came late to the aguas frescas party. But now that we're here, we're all in. The blend of water and fresh fruit juices is delicious and blessedly cooling during our many months of blistering heat. Our preferred source for ice-cold refreshment is one of Tortas Manantial's four Valley locations. If mainstream flavors are more your speed, options like strawberry, watermelon or pineapple (our personal favorite) are the way to go. But you'll be rewarded with a surprising and tasty flavor experience if you branch out to choices like soursop, guava or cucumber lemon. We're certain that after you've tried a few drinks from Tortas Manantial, you'll join us at the aguas frescas party.

Meagan Mastriani

In our opinion, churros are like pizza: Even the mediocre examples can still be enjoyable. But if a bottom-of-the-barrel churro is a $5 Hot-and-Ready from Little Caesars, the churros at Dulce Churro Cafe are a wood-fired pie with fresh mozzarella and hand-torn basil made by a master pizzaiolo. Your order at the two Dulce Churro Cafe locations starts with a piping hot churro that's perfectly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. You can get it in a loop shape, in one long cylinder or in little bites. From there, get as crazy as you want. Strawberry glaze. Served with vanilla soft serve ice cream. Topped with sprinkles. Accompanied by a mango- or cheesecake-flavored dip. Whatever you choose to do to jazz up your churro, it'll be a winning combination.

Allison Young

Alebrije Neveria poses the question, why isn't cereal always used as an ice cream topping? At this North Phoenix dessert shop, the Cereal Bowl comes with vanilla or strawberry ice cream swirled with a choice of cereals, topped with even more Fruity Pebbles, Cookie Crisp or Frosted Flakes for the ultimate breakfast-lovers' delight. Continue the breakfast-meets-dessert theme with a classic banana split or opt for a Fresas Alebrije, the shop's namesake creation made with fresh strawberries, cream, pecans and vanilla ice cream. Sweet and creamy not your thing? Try a tart and tangy raspado with tamarind, mango, chamoy or cucumber. Classic options including mangoneadas and piña coladas are on the menu along with a selection of savory bites such as esquites, elotes and Tostilocos at this colorful, family-run ice cream shop and snack bar.

Hipster coffee boutiques with their industrial vibe, serious baristas and sea of laptops are multiplying faster than you can say "locally roasted." The antidote to all that sleek, chic coffee geekdom is Mis Raíces, which translates to "my roots." Here, old-fashioned conversations happen in Spanish or English or both, everyone is all smiles and the atmosphere is full of colorful decor and delectable drinks based on Mexican dessert flavors. And oh, those flavors: traditional sweets like cajeta, flan, horchata and mazapán are always available, and specials such as pistachio cold foam are spectacular as well. Owner Clara Sánchez named the place after her upbringing in Guadalajara, Jalisco, and treats every customer like a guest in her home. She eagerly asks if guests like their drink and beams when they express appreciation. Smoothies, shaken espressos, tea, lemonade, bagels and pastries also are available, so it's a perfect place to settle in for a bit, put away that laptop and indulge in her hospitality.

Best Of Phoenix®

Best Of