Taco Summer

Taco Summer: Grilled Steak, Pinto Beans, and Homemade Flour Tortillas in Downtown Phoenix

The carne asada is served unadorned, covering a thin layer of grilled, pureed beans, and on a house-made flour tortillas. There is a great salsa bar, as well.
The carne asada is served unadorned, covering a thin layer of grilled, pureed beans, and on a house-made flour tortillas. There is a great salsa bar, as well. Shelby Moore
22. Asadero Toro

Asadero Toro, 1715 West McDowell Road
Open Since: 1994
Style: Northern Mexican grilled meats and beans.
Signature Taco(s): Carne asada with with house-made flour tortillas and grilled, pureed beans

Years ago, when I was student in downtown Phoenix, my study sessions would often continue late into the night, which would require a cheap fourth meal as fuel to keep me going.

It’s gotten a little better since then, but up until a few years ago, it was tough to find anything other than fast food chains open after dark. One night, a friend of mine turned to Yelp to aid in our search, using the “open now” category to sort out our options. We landed on Asadero Toro, one of the many little Mexican spots scattered west of downtown.

Its rating was good, but was based on only five reviews. Since it was open until 11 p.m., after a bit of deliberation, we decided to give it a chance. Besides, it was only a mile or two away, located just across the street from the Arizona State Fair grounds. That was the beginning of a long-standing Asadero Toro love affair that I carry on to this day.

Recently I checked Yelp again, and found that Asadero Toro is up to 100 reviews, almost all favorable. After a single visit, it is easy to see the appeal.

Most patrons go for the carne asada, which checks off all of the criteria that sticklers command: Thin cuts of steak are seasoned with salt and grilled up before being chopped coarsely. The beefy pieces are tender, with the slightest bit of char from the grill. They’re served on richly flavorful flour tortillas that are made in-house and warmed on the griddle to order.

The soft tortillas are first layered with a thin smear of smoky, pureed pinto beans, which are some of the most unique in town, then topped with the charred meat. There is also a “jaz” version available that adds green peppers and melted Mexican cheese to the mix.

When carne asada purists ask me where to find the best carne in the downtown area, Asadero Toro is always at the top of my mind. My suggestion? Order like a hungry college student. Stock up on several tacos along with a side of rice and beans for $1.25, and small stack of flour tortillas. You'll be happy to have whatever you don't finish as a snack later in the day, though my bet is that there won't be much to save.

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

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Shelby Moore