Taco Guild in Phoenix: Happy Hour Report Card

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The Spot: Taco Guild 546 East Osborn Road, Phoenix 602-264-4143 www.tacoguild.com

See Also: Taco Guild in Central Phoenix Commits Only Minor Sins on Holy Ground

The Hours: Happy Hour is offered Monday through Friday from 4 until 7 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m. until close, and daily for reverse happy hour from 10 p.m. until close.

The Interior: Walking into Taco Guild, the concept is instantly clear when you open the large heavy wooden doors into the main dining area. We have to hand it to Z'Tejas for repurposing an old church in Central Phoenix into a really beautiful taco joint that seems to insist on a more locally-focused restaurant. The dark, rich lounge and dining areas mesh well with the rejuvenated stone building with stained glass windows. You can also take your happy hour on the small, enclosed patio.

The Food: The special for happy hour eats is limited to the taco of the day, which is priced at $1.99. Not exactly a screaming deal, considering that's more than normal pricing for local authentic joints like Carolina's and Tacos Atoyac, but cheap enough that we aren't complaining. When we stopped in, the day's offering was a carnitas taco with onion and cilantro. Unfortunately, the thick corn tortilla, while seeming handmade, was dry and mushy, which didn't do the already dry carnitas meat any favors. We also tried a molida lamb taco full priced at $4, which suffered from the same issues as the carnitas taco, but had a little more flavor.

If you want to try more than just tacos, the Guild offers $2.50 sides like green chile achiote rice and borracho red beans. We tried the corn "off" the cob sautéed in habanero burrer, which tasted more like corn from a can. For appetizers, $8 or $9 guacamole options come in a few different flavor options, but are actually pretty bland regardless of which flavor you choose. You can pair that with green chile queso dip in the Guild Duo appetizer, but the cheese gets cold and clumpy in a matter of minutes because its only heat source is a tea light candle placed under the small skillet. The whole setup seemed to be more for looks than actually keeping the cheese melted, so you're better off sticking with the free chips and salsa.

The Drink: If you're looking for a legit $5 margarita, Taco Guild's frozen 1893 marg probably isn't the route to go. While the price is right, the execution and flavor didn't scream freshness and the whole experience was pretty standard, tasting like the kind of margarita you'd find in any Mexican chain in town. You can also get a $5 draft, which isn't a great deal because most restaurants regularly price pints at $5. If you're at Taco Guild during happy hour, it's probably best to just get the Stabilizer, which is a $6 draft beer and Cabrito Reposado tequila shot combo.

The Conclusion: Although Taco Guild has a pretty generous happy hour time span occurring every day, twice per day, the limited and underwhelming food options aren't going to get us to come back any time soon. Pair that with some not-so-special drink specials and you have a pretty mediocre happy hour in a very pretty restaurant.

Grade: C

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