[I will update this page as we visit more taco joints]
My work happens to be located in downtown Phoenix and some colleagues and I decided to do Taco Tuesdays with a twist: “Shady Taco Tuesdays”. So every Tuesday for lunch we look for a taco place that has all or at least one of these qualities:
- A relatively small restaurant
- Located somewhere where you’d prefer not to visit at night
- In need of serious renovations
- Can’t or won’t take credit cards
- Spanish speaking only staff
- Not as clean as you’d hope
- A very basic menu
I’d also like to point out that none of us speak Spanish and definitely stand out every time we walk into one of these taco joints.
Here are the places we’ve visited so far:
Tacos Sahuaro (2320 N 32nd St Phoenix, AZ 85008)
A very interesting place. Parking on some uneven surface right on 32nd Street. Inside does not even look like a restaurant. Various kinds of tables and chairs. The whole place needs a serious makeover. Tacos tasted pretty good. Didn’t get sick the next day. Success! I would even go back.
Tacos De Juarez (1017 N 7th St, Phoenix, AZ 85006)
Very easily identified with the “day of the dead” mural on its wall. This place was definitely one of the upscale places we visited. It was clean and well organized inside. They even had menus. Tacos were alright. It’s located right next to a bus station named “Los Limousines”. I might go back.
El Norteno (1002 N 7th Ave Phoenix, AZ 85007)
Tiny place right on 7th Ave. You know the food is good when you see a lot of construction workers eating there. You order from a window and have a seat outside. Cash only. Food was good. I’d go back for more tacos.
La Salsita’s Mexican Food (2345 E Van Buren St, Phoenix, AZ)
Probably one of the sketchiest places we’ve been to so far. It probably doesn’t help that right across the street is a prison complex and a mental institution. Also inside this little place there’s some sort kiosk/booth selling bus tickets. Didn’t ask where. Place was dirty and run down but the food was delicious. I got three tacos as I always do. I might go back to eat there.
Carolina’s Mexican Food (1202 E Mohave St Phoenix, AZ 85034)
Carolina’s was the most popular place shady taco place we’ve been to so far. In fact some other coworkers knew about the place. There was a line to order food when we got there. It was definitely a bigger place compared to other taco places we’ve been to. Food was decent. Inside wasn’t fancy but it at least it was clean. In a shady industrial part of town.
Tacos Sonora Grill (1009 S 7th St Phoenix, AZ 85034)
So far this place had the best steak street tacos. Hermosillo style. Tiny place. Very friendly person behind the counter and a great salsa bar. Has a weird parking area. But you can always park in front of the adult DVD store right next door. Coworkers and I visited the DVD store too. For science of course. Probably stayed in for about 15 seconds. It was awkward.
Santana’s Mexican Food (1930 West Buckeye Road Phoenix, AZ 85009)
Decent tacos. They were a little greasy though. Relatively clean and well kept inside. Right next to a Mexican super market and a tire shop. Definitely in a bad part of town on Buckeye and 19th Ave. Might go back if I need to buy Mexican groceries from next door. The “super mercado” seemed like they served food too. They had some benches inside.
Rito’s Mexican Food (907 N 14th St Phoenix, AZ 85006)
One of the most famous places we’ve been to. You order inside where there’s no seating and sit outside to eat where there’s no shade. This wouldn’t have worked if it wasn’t February in Phoenix. It’s good food for cheap but expensive compared to all of the other shady taco places we’ve been to.
La Tolteca (1205 E Van Buren St, Phoenix)
Once again yet another popular spot. Right on Van Buren, this spot is not super shady actually. It has a full bakery inside so if you want to smell like Subway and charcoal at the same time, step right in. Food wasn’t bad, parking was easy. Patrons were normal. Would visit again but like I said it just wasn’t shady enough.
El Ranchero (1900 E McDowell Rd, Phoenix)
This was a pretty hidden spot right by the 51 freeway on McDowell. All patrons looked Mexican and the walls were covered in tacky murals of the mountains. They didn’t take credit cards, friendly girl at the register barely spoke English and the food was just delicious. Definitely would go back.
Chico’s Tacos (530 E McDowell Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85004)
Chico’s is at a very busy intersection and not enough shady to be on our list but we went there anyways. On Tuesday’s they have a 99 cents deal for tacos. It tasted pretty good. They have a salsa bar, and your purchase comes with free chips. Not a bad deal. I could go back on another Tuesday.
Asadero Toro (1715 W McDowell Rd Phoenix, AZ 85007)
Yet another shady taco place. It was pretty delicious. I definitely recommend the carne tacos. Tacos here only come with meat and nothing else. You help yourself at the salsa bar and decorate your taco to your heart’s desire. As we were leaving another table got this dish that had some sizzling carne on it. Not sure what it was called but we’re going back for it.
Coming up more shady taco places:
- La Cocina Economica
- Birrieria Obregon
- Tortas El Guero
- La Canasta