Phoenix has some incredible Mexican restaurants. From Sonora all the way on down to Quintana Roo, you can find great Mexican food represented here. We also have some fantastic Mexican-American fare. Here, we give you five great neighborhood Mexican gems in metro Phoenix, from Scottsdale down on to Tempe. Print this list, bookmark it, pocket it, and chart your way to your next chile, cheese, and tortilla fix.
Asadero Norte De Sonora
122 North 16th Street
Have you had the chicken burro at Asadero Norte De Sonora? Because if you haven't, you're missing out on a kind of chicken burro nirvana – a piece of wrapped paradise in the form of stellar shredded bits of mesquite-grilled chicken, frijoles, shredded cabbage, and creamy guacamole. Chicken here has uncommon flavor. But you would be equally justified in going in another direction, maybe to beef. Tongue and cabeza are succulent and beautiful here as well, perfect for tacos with the vibrant, fruity house salsa.
Rito's Mexican Food
907 North 14th Street
For the longest time, this four-decade-old neighborhood staple in Central Phoenix had pared down its menu to just its famous green chili and red chili burros. Not that anyone was complaining much. When you serve essentially just a few dishes (and a couple of variations on each) and the lines are still out the door, you're doing something right. Rito's Mexican Food is definitely doing something right. Here, burros are best deep fried the Arizona way (as chimichangas), or smothered with enchilada sauce.
2534 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
Los Sombreros chef Azucena Tovar often travels back to her childhood home of San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico. And every year, we can't wait for her to return. That's when she adds new dishes to her already stellar menu of well-crafted Mexican food — the kind that have been bringing Scotts-dalians back to her charming brick home for almost 20 years. Oh, and the tamales here are serious business. You can't go wrong with any of the three staples (green corn, red chile beef, or tomatillo chicken).
Los Dos Molinos
When Victoria Chavez started Los Dos Molinos nearly 40 years ago in Springerville, Arizona, she hardly could have imagined her New Mexican-style restaurant, named after two antique chile grinders, would be the fiery family business it is today. The red chili burro here is an absolute standout. There are robust beef shreds and incendiary Hatch peppers from New Mexico. Yes, you might even cry a little. Tears of heat and joy.
2535 East University Drive #1, Tempe
El Tlacoyo may not serve up the escamoles (red ant eggs), chinicuiles (insect larvae), or zacahuiles (yard-long tamales) of Hidalgo, the eastern Mexican state the restaurant tips its hat to, but its listing of more than 100 dishes is still a nearly inexhaustible source of flavors. Gems are in abundance, such as a quesadilla just jammed with molten black huiltachoe. Come here on a Saturday. This is when the lamb barbecue special is served. You wouldn't believe how much dark meat can fit in the fold of a hot tortilla.