The 2014 Arizona Taco Festival took place this past weekend at Scottsdsale's Salt River Fields. There was enough sun, tacos, and booze to go around for the two full days of festivities, with tacos coming from every type of establishment from food trucks (including Traveling Monk) to casual bars (such as Dos Gringos) to higher-end trendy Mexican staples (like Distrito).
In the name of research, we tried (at least) one taco from every vendor who had tacos available on Saturday afternoon, and some definitely stood out from the pack. Here are some of the things we took note of between tortilla-wrapped bites.
Overall, our favorite tacos were the chicken and pork options from Gadzooks, as both the flavor and texture were really superb.
Fogon's pork was just as tender, but the flavor of the meat was lacking a little bit for a taco that was only served with onions, cilantro and salsa. It was still a very good time.
Hi, Tacos Huicho, we didn't know anything about you before the festival, but we're now in love with your street tacos. We want them. All of them. Forever and always.
Though the quality wasn't anything out of the ordinary, the sheer size of the tacos from Taco Pirates made them a bargain for the same $2 token everyone else was charging. Also, who doesn't want pirate-themed tacos?
The taste of Milagro Grill's tacos couldn't have been better, but the tortillas seemed a little tough and even stale, in our experience.
If you somehow end up at Arizona Taco Festival and you don't like tacos, just go to Coach's Corner and load up on green chile mac & cheese. No really, it's still worth the $12 price of admission for that and the people-watching.
Both Blue Hound and Distrito put out good tacos, but nothing we'd write home about.
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The highlight of the entire festival might've been hearing the woman at the Queso Good food truck explain to the disgruntled customer behind us that they were only serving tacos (not quesadillas) because it's a taco festival. I can't imagine how often she must've fielded that question, but they managed to put out one of the better seafood tacos we had there.
There are probably some places that are better off being Mexican-themed bars, and while the tacos from places like Dos Gringos and El Hefe weren't bad, they're not exactly at the same gourmet level as some of the other restaurants.
In the end, it was tough to find a really "bad" taco at the festival, but we certainly learned who can make a fantastic eating experience of a taco as opposed to who just throws some meat and salsa on a tortilla.