Taco Summer

Taco Summer: Yaqui Tribe Manta Ray and Shrimp Tacos in Phoenix

Shelby Moore
Cahuamanta is a classic Sonoran seafood dish, which is either served as a stew or loaded into tacos.
20. Taquería Yaqui

 Taquería Yaqui, 3502 East McDowell Road
Open Since: 2000
Style: Yaqui-Sonoran
Signature Taco: Manta ray meat tacos topped with cooked shrimp

There are hole-in-the-wall taquerias, and then there is Taquería Yaqui.

Housed in a cube-shaped standalone building near the northwest corner of 36th Street and McDowell Road, the tiny spot has ties to the Yaqui Indian tribe, who are spread across the Mexican state of Sonora and some of Arizona, and it shows in their menu. Taqueria Yaqui serves popular tostadas topped with mounds of ceviche and loaded with sizable slices of avocado, but their most distinctive, and popular, dish is their manta tacos.

In Mexican towns with heavier Yaqui populations such as Hermosillo, the Sonoran capital, and Obregón, further to the south, it is common to find a dish called cahuamanta, a stew of manta ray meat and shrimp. At this Scottsdale shop, the cahuamanta tacos are loaded with big chunks of manta ray meat that have been cooked down into stew that runs red with chili oils that are sure to find their way onto your hands and elbows as you eat. Topped with cabbage, fresh tomato, and anchored with a cool, snappy shrimp, the taco is not only unique but as satisfying as a stew should be.

Manta ray meat, it should be said, is not for everyone. It is not a buttery, flaky white fish. It is nearly gray in color and has a chalkier texture. It definitely tastes like it came from the ocean, less fishy than gamey. But to the adventurous eater looking for a lot of character from their fish, it’s a win. Coupled with the red chili oils and wrapped in a tortilla, it is a taco unlike any other.

Wash it down with cup of cebada, a Sonoran cousin to horchata, that swaps out earthy barley for more neutral rice.
click to enlarge You enter this bite-sized taco spot through the back or order from the patio. - SHELBY MOORE
You enter this bite-sized taco spot through the back or order from the patio.
Shelby Moore

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
43. Adrian's
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
32. Senor Ozzy's
31. Tacos Jalisco
30. Ta'Carbon
29. Taqueria Los Yaquis
28: Helio Basin Brewing
27: Sonora Taco Shop
26: Mercado Y Carniceria Cuernavaca
25. Restaurant Atoyac Estilo Oaxaca
24. Paquime Street Food
23. The Rez
22. Asadero Toro
21. La Frontera 1