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If you've lived outside of Arizona, you know how great the Mexican food here really is. Just try finding good Mexican food in New England. Still, not all our Mexican restaurants are created equal. In fact they can run the gamut from downright nasty to out-of-this-world fantastic. Here's this year's list of the best Mexican restaurants in the greater Phoenix area. Now get eating.
Best Neighborhood Mexican Restaurant, Central Phoenix: Tacos Atoyac
The abundance of Sonoran-style Mexican eateries is plainly clear in the Valley. But finding comida oaxaqueña, Oaxacan food from southwestern Mexico, takes a bit more work. Thank the dynamic duo of Oaxacan Pablo Lopez and Chilean-born Dan Maldonado for bringing their bare-bones taco shop to north Central Phoenix -- where the food's served up street-style, fast and flavorful, and at jaw-droppingly low prices. Read the full Best of Phoenix 2012 story.
Best Neighborhood Mexican Restaurant, North Phoenix: El Rinconcito del D.F.
This is the kind of place you could drive by every day on your way to work and never notice. In fact, we'd passed it by numerous times without giving it a second thought, until one day, the light bulb went off over our head. And are we ever glad we popped in to this Sunnyslope outpost, just south of Let It Roll bowling alley (a Best of Phoenix favorite). It's cash-only, it's no-frills, it's dirt-cheap, and, if you're lucky, you may see an employee rend a cooked goat as you chow down on awesome Mexico City street food such as tacos, burritos, tortas, and huaraches. Read the full Best of Phoenix 2012 story.
Best Neighborhood Mexican Restaurant, South Phoenix: Los Taquitos
Normally, when we hear the words "Guy Fieri," we wanna stick a hot relish fork in our eye -- twice. Still, for whatever reason, the Fieri seal of approval does seem to help some deserving Valley eateries. Case in point: this small, strip-mall storefront in Ahwatukee. Read the full Best of Phoenix 2012 story.
Best Neighborhood Mexican Restaurant, Downtown Phoenix: Rito's
To those in the know (and that's more and more all the time), this award probably comes as little surprise, because this is one of downtown's true gems. There's no signage to speak of, there's no place to sit inside, the menu is tiny, it's open for only a couple of hours a day, and it takes only cash. Sounds like a real pain in the ass, huh? Well, maybe, but the line out the door at lunchtime indicates that it's worth it. Read the full Best of Phoenix 2012 story.
Best Neighborhood Mexican Restaurant, West Valley: Mama Lupita's
Don't be put off by the location (in a crummy strip mall a couple of miles west of considerably tidier historic downtown Glendale) because inside this very good Mexican eatery is a cheery little dining room. The menu focuses on the cuisine of the southern Mexican state of Michoacan and features several menu items you'd otherwise have to search far and wide to find, including bírria seca (barbecued goat). Read the full Best of Phoenix 2012 story.
Best Neighborhood Mexican Restaurant, Southeast Valley: Taquitos Jalisco
From the outside (well, from the inside, too), this unassuming eatery could be just another no-frills, hole-in-the-wall taquería in a past-its-prime suburban strip mall. However, the food is excellent. Let's start with the bírria de chivo (a specialty of the southern Mexican state of Jalisco): This goat dish may be the best of its kind in the Valley, with luscious chopped meat in a mouthwatering thick stew flavored with roasted peppers. Read the full Best of Phoenix 2012 story.
Best Neighborhood Mexican Restaurant, Tempe: El Tlacoyo
Find this hidden, casual eatery in Tempe and you'll discover a selection of unique and authentic eats from the eastern Mexican state of Hidalgo, located north of Mexico City. For starters, don't miss the restaurant's namesake, the tlacoyos, oval-shaped fried masa cakes topped with a delectable green sauce, cheese, and feather-light shredded chicken. Read the full Best of Phoenix 2012 story.
Best Neighborhood Mexican Restaurant, Scottsdale: Tacos Jalisco
Just a mile north of this dilapidated '60s-era strip mall, in Old Town Scottsdale, there's no shortage of higher-end Mexican restaurants. And many of them are quite good. But for dyed-in-the-wool, dirt-cheap Mex eats, this is our go-to. Read the full Best of Phoenix 2012 story.
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