Tacos, like sandwiches and burgers, come in so many delectable variations that it's hard to commit to just one. Especially when these traditional, wallet-friendly Mexican snacks can be found in a multitude of restaurants and stands throughout the Valley.
Here, for now, are 10 of our favorites. If yours isn't listed, give it some time. Chances are we'll have 10 more before you finish sprinkling on the cilantro and onions.
Fish Taco from Tacos Atoyac
When it comes to tacos de pescado, purists who may lament their lack of flavor or abundance of breading will not be referring to Dan Maldonado's creation at his popular taqueria of street-style Oaxacan eats in North Phoenix. Eight years in the making, his may be the best in town, with lightly battered fish, a tangy guacamole salsa, and crispy lettuce atop a flour tortilla. And at $1.50 apiece, it's easy to double or triple the order.
Campechano Taco from Asadero Toro
It takes two first-rate homemade flour or corn tortillas to hold the fillings for the street-size campechano taco ($2.20) at this no-frills neighborhood spot in Central Phoenix. Piled high with pieces of seasoned steak and crispy tripe on a layer of refried beans makes for a hearty mix of flavors and textures. And a trip to the salsa bar ups the flavor ante as you see fit.
Longaniza con Nopales Taco from El Tlacoyo
Fans of Mexican chorizo will want to try longaniza,its spicier cousin, especially when this pork sausage with a kick is piled into a tortilla and mixed with bits of nopales (prickly pear cactus), which taste a bit like green beans with the texture of okra. Served up at this hidden gem in Tempe specializing in the cuisine of the state of Hidalgo in eastern Mexico, this tough-to-find taco, at just $1.75, is tasty enough to order up seconds.
Carnitas Taco from Barrio Queen
Tender, slow-cooked chunks of pork, onions, cilantro, and thick wedges of avocado come together for a delectable carnitas taco with celebu-chef cred courtesy of Valley taste maker Silvana Salcido Esparza. From the familiar to the exotic, Esparza serves up 30 varieties of tasty, street-size tacos at her new place in Scottsdale's SouthBridge complex. Plus (bonus), get there on Taco Tuesday and score featured tacos for just two bucks each.
Asada Taco from Ta' Carbon Mexican Grill
This house of flame-grilled delights (with locations in Glendale and Phoenix) serves up some crazy-good carne asada -- pleasantly salty, tender, and lightly marinated -- cooked right before your eyes over a charcoal grill. Since the tortilla comes heaped with the meat and nothin' but, you'll want to load it up with goodies from the condiment bar (onions and cilantro, Mexican limes, marinated carrots and red onion, cabbage, cucumbers, and any one of several salsas) for an asada taco done your way.
Chorizo Taco from Mama Lupita's
Contrary to this Glendale restaurant's friendly name and atmosphere, its chorizo taco is a bad boy with a hell of a bite. Arriving in a handmade tortilla of flour or corn (get the corn) is some of the best Mexican pork sausage in the Valley. You could stop there, but Mama takes her deeply rich and spicy chorizo taco one step further by topping it with an intensely smoky chili sauce with some serious sting. And at just two bucks, chances are you'll want seconds.
Taco al Pastor from Asadero Norte de Sonora
This Mexican adaptation of Middle-Eastern spit-grilled meat with a name that means, "shepherd's-style taco" can be found delicious-like (and at the rather odd, but low price of $1.63) at this bare-bones establishment of Sonoran-style eats in Central Phoenix. Wonderfully flavorful, the red-orange, thinly-sliced pork marinated in herbs and spices comes topped with onions and cilantro. To kick it up (another) notch, add a touch of spicy salsa.
Suadero Taco from El Rinconcito
Suadero (slow-cooked beef brisket) is sometimes tough to find at Mexican restaurants in the Valley, but not at this no-frills, cash-only neighborhood favorite in Sunnyslope. Featuring exceptional, real-deal Mexico City street food, the suadero taco arrives as lusciously smooth and fatty bits of grilled meat piled atop double housemade tortillas with handfuls of cilantro and onions. Order them up grande or street-size (called chicos) for just $1.25 each.
Birria Taco from La Barquita
Owner and cook Jose Garcia still uses his grandfather's recipe for birria (goat stew) at this unassuming neighborhood restaurant in Central Phoenix. Sure you could eat it with a fork and spoon, but why, when the tender chunks of goat are even better in corn tortillas? Squeeze some fresh lime on your birria taco before dipping each bite into the mildly spicy and tomato-chile broth loaded with herbs to experience one of this restaurant's best dishes.
Seasoned Machaca Taco from Carolina's
Maybe it's this Valley legend's exceptional housemade flour tortillas that make nearly anything in them taste so good. And with three locations, you could do worse than to start your day with one of the slightly crispy and warm grilled blankets wrapped around delicious shredded machaca -- or marinated, shredded beef. The cheddar cheese, tomatoes, and sour cream make for more guilty pleasure enjoyment, but those in the know will get theirs with a side of Carolina's equally reputable red salsa.
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