Best Mexican Bakery 2023 | La Purisima Bakery | La Vida | Phoenix
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.

Margaritas are dangerous, y'all. Those tart little numbers go down so easily, and before you know it, your head feels funny and your wallet has taken a major hit. We can't help with your alcohol tolerance, but we know where you can go to get margs on the cheap. Local chain Someburros seems to be taking over the Valley — a dozen locations already, plus more on the way — and one of the reasons we love them is their happy hour specials. From 3-6 p.m., margaritas of the original and strawberry varieties are a measly $3, as are domestic and imported beers and a selection of snacks such as mini chimichangas, Mexican pizzas, nachos and cheese crisps. So the next time you feel like indulging in a margarita (or two, or more) without a huge tab, find a Someburros. But please, get a safe ride home.

Pete Salaz

Margaritas are deceptively simple. The basic recipe is tequila, triple sec and lime juice, so what could go wrong? Unfortunately, a lot, given the multitudes of margaritas Valleywide that range from watery to overly puckery to fizzy, among other fatal flaws. That's why Centrico's are so stellar. This cheery, bright, bustling modern Mexican restaurant on the ground floor of the San Carlos Hotel mixes honest, fresh, perfectly balanced versions that are not too tart or sweet, thanks to an expertly blended sour mix. And while the drinks provide a buzz, the tequila doesn't wallop their smooth, enjoyable flavor. It's also appealing that the cocktails are available in several variations, including the sandía (watermelon), prickly pear, jamaica and more, so you won't get bored. Best of all, these delightful drinks are ideal with the roster of exquisitely executed Mexican classics, whether you're doing some day drinking with a plate of chilaquiles or sipping one with a plate of birria beef, chicken or chile verde enchiladas.

Tirion Boan

Upstairs, Barcoa is a lively cantina with string lights, fluttering papel picado and a food truck. Down a large staircase, customers descend into an underground lair dedicated to agave. The dark bar is a moody space filled with small tables surrounding a central bar. Within, bartenders shake and stir cocktails based on spirits from the spiky plant. There are dozens of varieties of tequilas on the menu, but this bar goes way beyond the familiar. Dip your toes into the worlds of mezcal, sotol, raicilla, bacanora and other agave distilates. Some are bright, others smoky or smooth. Barcoa serves these unique spirits mixed into cocktails or celebrated in flights that introduce customers to the lesser known varieties. If you don't know what to pick, a flight helps. But Barcoa offers 20 different flights, so be prepared to go downstairs and fall down the rabbit hole.

Lauren Saria

For tequila fans, there's no better spot in the Valley than The Mission. The restaurant, which has locations in Old Town Scottsdale and Kierland Commons, has close to 100 different tequila options. The menu is helpfully broken down by category and price, including blanco, reposado, anejo, extra/premium and cristallino. Flights of each style are also available, each offering four pours so customers can determine their favorite. The price points range from $35 to $285, meaning sippers can choose to dip their toes in the world of tequila or dive straight into the deep end. The Mission also offers a large selection of cocktails made with tequila, including margaritas, mules and a bloody maria. The drinks pair perfectly with the swanky restaurant's modern Latin cuisine, which takes inspiration from Spain, Mexico and Central and South America.

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