Best Quesadillas 2023 | Caminero Mexican Restaurant | La Vida | Phoenix

At Mexican restaurants with menus boasting craveable tacos and bursting burritos, simple quesadillas can often be the boring option. But that's far from the case at Caminero Mexican Restaurant in Peoria. These suckers are massive. We're partial to the fajita quesadilla, which comes packed with chicken or beef, bell peppers and onions all melted together with molten cheese, served with a side of guacamole and sour cream. In the beef option, large chunks of carne asada are served medium-rare, more like chunks of an expensive steak than you'd expect from a little hole-in-the-wall joint. The peppers are fresh and snappy, and the tortilla is crisp and golden. The best part is there's plenty to take home and enjoy again for leftovers. Stop in to Caminero, slide up to the counter past the old-timey murals and order a quesadilla to remember.

Shelby Moore

Too often, chilaquiles play like Mexican junk food, a mere excuse to pile 17 ingredients on a plate. Or worse, they're little more than breakfast nachos — eggs and meat dumped on a pile of crispy corn chips. What makes the chilaquiles at El Horseshoe sing is their perfect simplicity. The kitchen toasts raw, day-old tortillas in oil to order, adds a bright red or green salsa, mixes in some melty cheese, then tops it all with a little crumbled cotija. The result is a dish that captures and puts the focus on the essence of chilaquiles — the unique squishy-crisp texture that results when you simmer crunchy chips in fresh salsa for just the right amount of time. Topping them with an egg sure won't hurt, but these chilaquiles have a subtle elegance that doesn't want for a thing.

Patricia Escarcega

The titans of Tucson have come and gone, other notable stands have flashed and faded, and the nighttime streets of Phoenix are ever more crowded with carts and food trucks slinging Sonoran hot dogs. But somehow we keep coming back to popular longtime favorite El Caprichoso. The dog is top-notch, at least in the way it skillfully captures the style's lo-fi sensibilities. Wrap a cheap hot dog in crisp bacon, swaddle it in a pillowy sweet bun and bury it in every Mexican-themed ingredient you can think of. But El Caprichoso's dog is more balanced than its chaotic template might suggest, and the bun is always griddled to a gorgeous, golden crisp. And then there's the vibe — the ragtag crowd of West Valley families, post-party revelers and second-dinner night owls that hungrily tuck into their dogs as a hot desert breeze blows through El Caprichoso's brightly lit tent. There is nothing more Phoenix than this.

Jackie Mercandetti

There are a lot of reasons to visit Las 15 Salsas Restaurant Oaxaqueño, from its cheerful and welcoming patio to its smoky mezcal cocktails. But the real draw is the mole. And here, that's not just one dish. The moles come in black, red, yellow, green and a stewed version called estofado. As stand-alone dishes, the moles come with rice and tortillas and either chicken or pork. But the rich, spicy sauces can also be found throughout the menu, tucked into tamales or empanadas, spooned over enchiladas or served with chips to dip. Though there are many good options to try, we prefer the Moles de Fiesta, a shareable sampler platter with stripes of black, red and estofado mole. The black mole has the characteristic sweet, chocolatey flavor, while the red packs some serious heat. However you enjoy them, dipped, scooped or spooned, these moles transport diners straight to Oaxaca.

Tirion Boan

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.

Dominic Armato

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 Boan

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.

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