Each week we venture to a new restaurant to check out what the spot has to offer during our favorite time of day — happy hour. Whether it's affordable appetizers, delicious drinks, jaw-dropping deals, or none of the above, we'll check out the situation and report back.
The Spot: Crujiente Tacos
3961 East Camelback Road
The Hours: Happy hour is daily from 3 to 6 p.m., all day on Wednesday, and from 9 to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. There are additional specials Monday through Wednesday, but the restaurant is closed on Monday during June and July. The bar is closed on Sunday.
Perfect For: Cocktails with work buddies, a date with a foodie, or happy hour all by your lonesome. The space is intimate, the people are friendly, and we’re not judging you.
The Interior: Occupying the space formerly known as The Grind, Crujiente is a long, dark, cool hall. The bar stretches nearly the length of the restaurant, and there is only room in the narrow space for a handful of booths on the other side and a few high tops up front. The vibe is elegant meets edgy – handsome leather and a beautiful bartop are roughed up a bit by the exposed brick and graffiti in the bathrooms. Don’t be fooled by its humble surroundings in the strip mall on the southwest corner of 40th Street and Camelback Road – this is a classy spot.
The Food: Crujiente is not messing around when it comes to tacos. From standard beef and pork options to creative twists like Korean fried chicken, lengua, or pork belly with kimchi. These are street tacos, so they are small and arrive sans fancy sides. Don't worry, at happy hour prices, you will happily end up ordering six or seven. The crujiente beef, pork, and lamb tacos are on the happy hour menu at $5 each, plus there’s a short rib for $4, and the aforementioned fried chicken and pork belly are each only $3. The latter is topped with kimchi, cilantro, and a Sriracha aioli, and was worth ordering more than one. Also featured on happy hour: a salsa trio ($4), guacamole ($7), and queso and chorizo ($7), each served with enough chips to get the job done.
The Drinks: During happy hour, well drinks are $5, draft and bottled beer are $1 off, wines by the glass are $2 off, and cans of Modelo Especial or Tecate Light are only $3 each. The only cocktail offer is the Cru margarita for $5, which, obviously, we got. It was everything a margarita should be: salty and sweet with a citrusy finish, served in a glass that would crush any can of Tecate Light that got in its way. Made with Exotico Blanco tequila and a house-made agave syrup, this margarita was flash and substance.
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Conclusion: In a city where you can’t throw a rock without hitting a taco place, Crujiente stands out. The menu is simple and sophisticated, and each dish is executed with finesse. But this is happy hour and you just want to get a good buzz and a full tummy without breaking the bank. Good news: They do that, too. All-day happy hour on Wednesday, reverse happy hour on Friday and Saturday nights, and brilliant offers every other day of the week (e.g. tacos on happy hour all day Tuesdays) mean you have no excuse. Go now, thank us later.
Don’t Miss: The pork belly taco.
Skip This: Paying full price. There are enough specials at Crujiente that you should be able to eat like a king, even if you’re on a budget.