So many crunchy, savory, spicy discs of deliciousness, so few hours in the day.

Let’s Talk Tacos

Written by M.V. Moorhead Category: Food Reviews Issue: July 2017
Group Free

West Valley
Revolu Modern Taqueria + Bar

Delicious and endlessly adaptable, the taco ranks up there with the sandwich and the pizza slice as one of the all-time greatest hand-held food forms. One of the increasingly familiar north-of- the-border taco traditions is Taco Tuesday, and you won’t find it practiced more capably than at this newish, modish watering hole and eatery, festively adorned with Día de los Muertos murals. Seven of its taco selections are $2 apiece on Tuesdays, so I ordered one of each. (Don’t judge, it was for journalistic reasons.) All achieved varying degrees of savory satisfaction – especially the chorizo y papa (chorizo and potatoes), hearty for its small size; the creamy yet light chicken tinga (chipotle chicken and Oaxaca cheese); and the carnitas (pork in a spicy green salsa) – but my vulgarly unhip favorite, I confess, was the Piggy in a Poncho: a fried hot dog wrapped in bacon, with lettuce, pico and Oaxaca cheese.
Must try: A milkshake may not seem like the optimal follow-up to a bunch of tacos, but Revolu’s Mexican chocolate shake ($6.95) is a gem – made with cinnamon-kissed Mexican chocolate ice cream, whipped cream and little puddles of cajeta (goat’s milk caramel) sauce, it’s perfectly balanced and not saccharine. Get it infused with Baileys Irish Cream or Kahlúa for $3 more.
15703 N. 83rd Ave., Peoria, 623-878-0215,

East Valley
Guedo’s Taco Shop

If geography is destiny, then the Valley is certainly one of the richest regions for tacos in the U.S. – the East Valley included. This Gilbert reincarnation of a late Chandler taco hot spot offers a tasty, inexpensive entrée into the world of Valley tacos, with a cool, comfortable ambience and scrumptious food. The soft taco ($3.25) is a two-ply tortilla delivery system for savory beef, pork or chicken. A veggie rice and veggie bean version ($2.85) is also available, packed with avocado and sour cream. Better still is the fish taco ($3.75), featuring a fried fillet adorned with crunchy cabbage. Bathe all of the above in a variety of zippy salsas from a self-serve bar. If you require something sweet, the Chocolate Chihuahua cake ($7.25) fills the bill, though the word “Chihuahua” in the name is its only discernably Mexican trait.
Must try: The stuffed shrimp cheese crisp ($9.95) truly is stuffed to the gills with succulent shrimp, and comes with a spirited cream sauce on the side. After you finish it, you’ll be stuffed, too.
3107 S. Gilbert Rd., Gilbert, 480-621-8280,

Maria’s Frybread & Mexican Food

This cheery, friendly and colorful little nook in a strip mall at the corner of 40th Street and Thomas Road is recklessly affordable with dangerously fast service – the danger being, of course, to the waistline. The marquee dish is surely the frybread taco ($7.49), with heaps of red or green chile beef (shredded or ground), or carne asada piled on a sublime disc of flaky, fluffy dough, along with refried beans and cheese. Just as prodigious, and just as delicious, is the red beef tamale, available either naked ($3.19) or with red sauce and cheese ($3.49); the former is a big meal, the latter is a huge meal. The standard taco ($3.19) is a bit more modestly portioned; go for the tender, faintly sweet carne asada. Maria’s offers hearty breakfasts, too – most temptingly the chorizo and egg burrito ($5.79).
Must try: The pozole ($6.49), loaded with hominy and pork and accompanied with flour or corn tortillas, makes a wonderful, warming lunch all by itself. Hangover-curing menudo is served on the weekends, too, for the same price.
4041 E. Thomas Rd., 602-957-3514

LA SALA – Tequila Cantina

Connected to the elegant Living Room Wine Café and Lounge at Gainey Ranch is, well, another living room. But this other, smaller sala has a Mexican twist to its menu, offering a variety of high-end tacos – carne asada, brisket, chicken, pork carnitas, rockfish and rock shrimp – to wash down with plenteous tequila. Though they’re available on platters with rice and beans, ordering the tacos à la carte ($3.95 each) allows for more sampling, both economically and in terms of stomach space. The brisket is smoky and nicely caramelized – you can also get it in chimichanga and burrito platters ($14.95 each) – and the rockfish is springy and delicate. The farm salad ($11.95), featuring kale and avocado, and the Latin Caesar ($11.95), featuring corn and cotija, give a south-of-the-border spin to rabbit food.
Must try: From the appetizer menu, try the street corn ($8.95), pinwheels on the cob smeared with sumptuous cotija mayo.
8977 N. Scottsdale Rd., 480-656-7628,