Charles Barth

La Bamba Mexican Grill Restaurant

The entrance to La Bamba lies beneath no sign, in a strip mall suite between a laundromat and Discount Tire in the deep west Valley. Inside, the extremely friendly chef, Edson Garcia, is multitasking, creating next-level tacos, sauces, horchata, and aguas frescas. Garcia — who has said he was homeless just a few years ago — started his restaurant career as a dishwasher, worked his way up to line cook, then began opening restaurants in this suburban sector of Phoenix. In a recent review, our restaurant critic made a big claim: The al pastor tacos at La Bamba in El Mirage are the best in the Valley. Garcia uses pineapple vinegar and pork belly and serves these tacos on flour tortillas, topped with onion, cilantro, and house-made salsas. It's a hauntingly good example of the level of Mexican fare our city has to offer. New Normal: Seating is limited in the dining room, but there are socially distanced tables and seats at the bar. Takeout is always available.

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