Welcome to the 2018 edition of The Essentials, our catalog of indispensable and quintessential Phoenix food and drink. From now until May, we'll be sharing 50 dishes, drinks, and food experiences that make up the culinary backbone (and personality) of metro Phoenix. This list is highly eclectic, mixing classics with newer and lesser-known favorites. But all The Essentials have one thing in common: We think they're required eating (and drinking) in metro Phoenix.
7: Carne asada tacos from Taquería Los Yaquis
Even if you don't know it by name, you probably have a passing familiarity with Taquería Los Yaquis, the popular roadside taco stand near the corner of Camelback Road and Seventh Avenue in central Phoenix.
You've probably driven by the humble-looking taco trailer and caught the scent of grilled beef in the air, or glimpsed the crowds that line up for food on weekends.
What's all the fuss about Taquería Los Yaquis? For one, it's the unofficial restaurant of Charlie's Phoenix, the raucous and country-inflected gay bar and nightclub located adjacent to the taco stand. On certain nights, the buzzy surroundings can make Taquería Los Yaquis feel like you've stumbled onto somebody's backyard kick-back party.
Unlike the roadside stands tucked along Van Buren Street or countless obscure west-side lots, Taquería Los Yaquis is situated in the heart of central Phoenix's traffic-choked corridor. That means it attracts a motley crowd from all parts of the Valley — everyone from neighborhood locals to night-owl hipsters cruising for taco stands on Foursquare. Because of its late-night service (food is served until 4 a.m. on the weekends), Taquería los Yaquis is the de facto late-night taco spot in central Phoenix for many taco-lovers.
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It doesn't hurt that Taquería Los Yaquis pumps out exquisite chopped carne asada tacos, sold for a whopping $1 a pop. The tight menu also includes a juicy pollo asado, a thick and extra-cheesy carne asada quesadilla, and the signature "Super Mega Nachos," a saucy hodgepodge of thick chips heaving with cheese, onions, your choice of carne asada or pollo, and a thick squiggle of fresh crema.
Unless you drop by on a relatively mellow Saturday afternoon, you can rightly expect to stand in line for your food. You may have to fight through a gauntlet of traffic snarls and clumsy parking jobs. But you can take comfort in knowing that you're participating in one of Phoenix's most prized culinary experiences: Great tacos, served to you in a parking lot that sometimes feels more like an impromptu roadside party.
Taquería Los Yaquis. 705 West Camelback Road; 480-911-6333.
Thursday 7:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Friday and Saturday 7:30 p.m. to 4 a.m.; Sunday 4:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.; closed Monday to Wednesday.
The Essentials So Far:
50: Soul food platter at Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles
49: The Bear at Short Leash Hot Dogs + Rollover Doughnuts
48: Grilled squid and other specialties at Andreoli Italian Grocer
47: I-10 Nachos at Cocina 10
46: Coffee made from ROC2 beans
45: The Haturo Sub Sandwich at Cheese 'n Stuff
44: Zookz at Zookz
43: Jade Red Chicken at Chino Bandido
42: Tasting menu at Quiessence at The Farm
41: Single-origin Papua New Guinea Bar at Zak's Chocolate
40: Green chile at Casa Reynoso
39: Brûlée burger from Paradise Valley Burger Company
38: Hand-pulled noodles from China Magic Noodle House
37: Carne adovada sliders at Dick's Hideaway
36: Crispy Pig Ear and Amaro cocktails from Crudo
35: Chile-laced specialties from Cafe Ga Hyang
34: Martinis at AZ88
33: Nooner at Duck & Decanter
32: Eggs Maximilian at Harlow's Cafe
31: Beef Tacos from Asadero Norte De Sonora
30: Orange Blossom from Huss Brewing Company
29: Rye bread from Yasha From Russia
28: Scotch Beef and Mashed Potatoes from Tarbell's
27: Griddled Corn Cakes and Ramona Farms Super Food Salad at Phoenix City Grille
26: Soup from Reathrey Sekong
25: Lamb tongue sandwich at Haji Baba
24: The Special at Grand Avenue Pizza Company
23: Red chile at Elmer's Tacos
22: Marranitos at La Purisima Bakery
21: Kronuts from Karl's Bakery
20: Beef pies at Chou's Kitchen
19: Bavarian pretzels & schnitzel at Haus Murphy's
18: Red chili burro and sopapillas from Los Dos Molinos
17: Camelback Soda at The Sugar Bowl
16: Brisket Sandwich at Chelsea's Kitchen
15: Taco Hazz from Ta'Carbon
14: Barnone at Agritopia
13: The Jazzy from Emerson Fry Bread
12: Flour Tortillas from La Sonorense Tortilla Factory
11: Peach picking at Schnepf Farms
10: The Purple Fusion at Snoh Shaved Ice
9: Sours from Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company
8: Umi No Sachi at Hana Japanese Eatery
7: Carne asada tacos from Taquería Los Yaquis