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May, 2011, Page 156
Photos by Richard Maack
Vitamin T is a fun new fixture to the Downtown scene,
offering fast, fresh Mexican food with little fanfare.
Vitamin T is a nickname for the grab-and-go tacos, tortas, tamales, etc. sold at taquerías and puestos (food stalls) in Mexico, and now in Downtown’s CityScape complex. Opened in December 2010, it’s an affordable option for everyone from office drones to Downtown shoppers to sporting-event patrons.
Be prepared to dine in a hurry or take it with you, because the colorful yet diminutive shop – 10 cramped seats inside, 25 on the patio – offers no place to linger. And the location, with its underground parking garage, makes it unwieldy for carryout if you’re not within walking distance. It does, however, offer our favorite “vitamin T” – tequila – in shots and frozen margaritas, as well as Dos Equis on tap.
Marinated meats are the stars here, with juicy barbacoa (slow-cooked brisket) tacos ($2.50 each or three for $7) shining brightest. All tacos come topped with a crunchy mix of cabbage, radish, shaved carrots, green onion, cilantro and lime juice, and each has its own special add-ons; barbacoa also comes with queso fresco, avocado crema and salsa verde. Cheese is barely noticeable – no grease-oozing, gloppy cheddar here.
Even queso fundido tacos with Chihuahua cheese aren’t gooey, but they are a bit greasy due to zesty chorizo. I still loved them. The ahogado (drowned) torta ($7), soaked with chili de arbol sauce and dipped in broth, was the favorite sandwich – I’m a sucker for pickled onions. A side of black beans ($3) was simple and superior.
Nothing is terribly hot; if you want spice, stock up at the tidy salsa bar. The delectable pozole (pork and hominy stew, $5) even lacked its trademark burn. The exception: a bacon-wrapped all-beef Sonoran dog ($6) with jalapeño sauce and black bean spread – a fun, feisty alternative to the usual street dog.
There aren’t many meat-free options, and most I tried fell flat, except for the surprisingly fun green salad ($6) with toasted pumpkin seeds, jicama, radish and carrot. Other items also didn’t quite hit the mark: Pibil, slow-cooked pork, was a tad dry, and so was the masa in the tamales ($5 each).
Despite occasional flubs, this place will satisfy your Mexican food cravings to a T.
: 1 E. Washington St., Ste. 175, Phoenix
: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday
: Green salad ($6), black beans ($3), barbacoa tacos and queso fundido tacos ($2.50 each or three for $7), ahogado (drowned) torta ($7), Sonoran dog ($6), pozole (pork and hominy stew, $5)
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