By Amy Young
There are so many reasons why people love tacos. They’re delicious, for one. They come in a lot of different varieties; able to accommodate both cravings and dietary restrictions. And they’re not too harsh on the wallet, either. From central Phoenix to its many suburban branches, you don’t have to travel too far without being able to satisfy a taco fix. There are old school shops, longtime staples and modern restaurants that each offer their signature tacos. Crispy shells and soft shells, you name it, this region is a taco haven where you are sure to find some favorites.
LA SANTISIMA GOURMET TACO SHOP
This downtown Phoenix taco shop immediately hypnotizes you upon entry with the smell of the mesquite that is used to grill its Sonoran Carne Asada tacos, where the steak is first marinated in olive oil, fresh garlic and herbs, adding a lot of depth. The Mayan Cochinita Pibil tacos are loaded with tender pork that has been covered in an achiote seasoning and slow roasted in banana leaves, making it savory and tangy. The restaurant also features a very popular and diverse salsa bar that offers unusual ingredients, like strawberries and pecans. lasantisimagourmet.com
SOCAL FISH TACO COMPANY
Downtown Gilbert, now a dining hub, is even more complete with a fish taco joint. This charming little spot’s décor achieves the goal of making it feel like it was yanked from a strip in a southern California beach town and plopped down in the middle of the desert. Fish and chips, clam strips and ceviche make for a loaded menu, but fish taco lovers will be in heaven with the many choices. Traditionalists will like the blackened grouper, which is grilled and topped with cabbage, cheese and Baja sauce. Fried food fans will appreciate a beer battered option that adds depth to the crunch. socalfishtacos.com
This family-owned Phoenix taco shop pays tribute to their home region of the Mexican state, Chihuahua. Their longtime recipes are used to create the meat-oriented menu, with taco fillings that include beef, pork, beef tongue, chicken and tripe. The signature Taco Chiwas is a combination of beef, ham and cheese with jalapenos and hatch chili peppers to help kick up the heat. The menu also offers burritos, gorditas and quesadillas. tacoschiwas.com