These aren't Taco Bells. The number of quality Mexican restaurants continues to grow in the Phoenix area. Here are three more that bring the authentic Mexican cooking to Arizona. Have you tried any of them yet?
1006 East Warner Road, Tempe
Ghost Ranch, the South Tempe restaurant Aaron Chamberlin opened in August, looks to bring novelty to southwestern cuisine. Chamberlin, who masterminds four restaurants including Taco Chelo, says his newest serves food “from Baja California to Texas.” The chefs at Ghost Ranch cook enchiladas with chile Colorado. The dish speaks to how Chamberlin and his crew hope to jolt southwestern. The tortillas are corn. The toppings are slivered. A forest of purple cabbage, onion, and radishes. Crema provides a link to the time-tested schematic of enchiladas that are all creamy, all melting. When slurping the chile, you expect a roasty haymaker. But this chile has a gentle heat that seems to respect the more elusive qualities of the rare Chimayo that Chamberlin sources. This dish is just one example of the approach at Ghost Ranch, an approach geared toward airier zones of southwestern flavor.
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330 East Roosevelt Street
PAZ Cantina, closed since late 2015, opened again about three weeks ago. The restaurant had to press pause to make way for the construction of new apartments on Roosevelt Row. After a few more holdups than expected, the restaurant is fully open, and chef Johanna Loarte is cooking Mexican favorites once again. Tortas, tacos, burritos, and salads dominate the menu. Staples like flautas and enchiladas are sprinkled in. You'll find many of the usual suspects, like carne asada, chicken tinga, nopales, and barbacoa. Though the restaurant describes its food as "traditional Mexican," there are modern touches: tight zigzags of crema, fries in one taco, a horchata cold brew. Brunch is offered Saturdays and Sundays. On Saturday, you can eat Mexican sweet breads or a menudo plate while bathing in the tunes of a DJ.
4044 South 16th Street
Cocina Madrigal, a Mexican restaurant with upscale touches, opened in June on 16th Street in south Phoenix. Chef Leo Madrigal was born in Mexico City and tends to cook with the flavors of Mexico City and Oaxaca but his style isn't strictly Mexican. There is a taco menu, complete with the likes of steak, al pastor, achiote-rubbed chicken, and shrimp. There are enchiladas stuffed with fillings like beef birria and green chile pork. But there, too, are two pasta dishes, and a chicken breast with artichokes, mushrooms, and soy-mustard cream. Appetizers skew more south of the border. Madrigal plates standbys like elote, queso fundido, quesadillas, made-to-order guacamole, and more. Drinks revolve around that lime-green Southwestern star: the margarita.