In the hunt for the latest trendy restaurants, our spotlight often misses neighborhoods that are home to some of the Valley's best kitchens — including those making metro Phoenix's best tacos. Over the next several weeks, we’ll be guiding you toward the Valley’s tastiest tacos, and the taquerías that serve them. Welcome to Taco Summer.
32: Señor Ozzy’s Tacos y Mariscos
Taquería: Señor Ozzy’s Tacos y Mariscos, 6644 W. Buckeye Rd.
Open Since: 2016
Style: Everything from seafood to Sonoran hot dogs.
Signature Taco(s): Griddled shrimp and cheese with chipotle sauce.
For Ozzy Perez, the path to becoming known for his griddled shrimp tacos was paved not with a penchant for seafood, but an interest in hot dogs.
Four years ago he started cooking at home for himself and his wife, Diana, and it soon became his passion. While working as a sales representative for Frito-Lay, he began experimenting in the kitchen, challenging himself to put new spins on classic Mexican dishes.
“He just enjoyed cooking, and I’d eat,” Diana says.
Soon enough, he pitched her the idea of a buying a small food cart. It would just be a hobby, something to do on the weekend.
They both had fond memories of eating tacos from their favorite carts back when they used to live in Los Angeles. There was one cart in particular, in Torrance, where they’d eat “boca tacos,” made with jowl and snout meat, while sitting at one of the two tables out front.
11 years ago, just after they got married — she was 21 and he was 22 — the couple began to feel the pressure of the high cost of living in Los Angeles. Diana has family in Phoenix, and they’d visited once and liked it, so they began talking about making the move.
““So Ozzy said, ‘We’re married and I want to give you a home, and this is the way I can give that to you.’”
Initially, they had a hard time finding anything that could compare to the street food flavors they enjoyed in Los Angeles, so it wasn’t a hard sell when Ozzy suggested opening his own cart.
His food was good. Really good. Family members told friends, who told their friends and family in return, and before he knew it, Ozzy was booked with food orders every weekend.
They discovered a new favorite food after moving to the Valley. The couple was familiar with “danger dogs,” L.A.’s answer to the Sonoran dog, which were wrapped in bacon as well, but instead of pinto beans and diced tomatoes, were topped with grilled onions, bell peppers, and jalapeño.
“If you go to a Rams game there are about a hundred of those guys running around with their little carts,” Ozzy says. “When we came here to Phoenix we started eating them at this one place. We used to go constantly.”
“One day he said, ‘let’s get a hot dog cart.’” Diana remembers. “He decided he wanted to do Sonoran Hot Dogs.”
The dogs were a hit, but soon family members began to make special requests for seafood items like ceviche. Word traveled fast, and the coupled found themselves getting booking for seafood dishes for events, chiefly, their michelada topped with ceviche — a “cevichelada.”
Ozzy could left his full-time job and focused solely on his truck with his business partner and brother-in-law, Luis Martinez, founder of Señor Chelada, a popular regional michelada mix.
Today, they are parked permanently under a large orange and yellow tent.
“We’ve never had issues with sales,” Ozzy says. “We’ve been blessed, basically.”
It’s possible their signature chipotle sauce is partially responsible.
“I put that shit on everything,” Ozzy says. “That’s our slogan,” he adds, jokingly.
It’s what gives their signature taco, the camaron con queso, shrimp with cheese, it’s distinct flavor.
They begin with a yellow corn tortilla on an oiled grill and then load it with a blend of Monterey jack cheeses, shrimp, and sautéed onions and tomatoes seasoned with garlic and paprika. They add a squirt of their house chipotle sauce, fold, and serve. It is a dish that blurs the line between quesadillas and tacos.
This time of year, when temperatures soar, the big tent doesn’t start to fill up until close to 8 p.m., after the sun goes down.
“We won’t be here forever,” Diana says. They’re looking forward to having a permanent location sometime soon, with walls and air conditioning.
They like the tranquility of Phoenix, especially the current location of Señor Ozzy’s, which stands in stark contrast to the bustle of Los Angeles. The farther West you go down Buckeye Road, the more green fields and farmland appears. So they don't plan to move far when they do find a brick-and-mortar, Diana says, and she hopes that they’ll be followed wherever they go.
Their spicy, cheesy, griddled shrimp taco is one of a kind.
Our Taco Summer picks so far:
50. Taqueria Don Beto
49. Kiss Pollos Estilo Sinaloa
48. Tacos Tijuana
47. El Burrito Grande
46. El Horseshoe Restaurant
45. Tacos Sahuaro
44. El Pollo Correteado
42. La Fiesta
41. Taqueria Lucy
40. Tortas Ahogadas George
39. Taqueria El Chino
38. Joe's Tacos
37. Taqueria El Gallo de Lagos
36. Tacos Huicho
35. Puffy Taco Shack
34. Ni De Aqui Ne De Alla
33. Mr. Mesquite