Cinco de Mayo may grant Phoenicians an excuse to party, but the bargain margaritas and mouthwatering Mexican eats served at these three south-of-the-border watering holes are cause for year-round celebration.
9240 N. 43rd Ave.,
Glendale, 623-243-2504, anayasmexicanrestaurant.com
Proving that space is what you make of it, the folks behind this West Valley mom-and-pop transformed a former fast-food joint into a warm and welcoming hacienda of gringo-friendly Mexican fare. Behind stucco walls lurks a color explosion of intricately carved Mexican furnishings, faux brick floors and a cozy bar with brick accents.
Snag well drinks for $2.75 at happy hour, along with half-price nachos ($3.25) and one of the cheapest margs around ($2.99). Draft beers ($2.75) include usual Mexican suspects Tecate, Corona and Pacifico alongside northern neighbors Bud and Coors Light – all excellent choices to wash down a cheese crisp ($3.25) or quesadilla ($4.25). 3-6 p.m. M-F.
2150 E. Williams Field Rd., Gilbert
Serapes? Maracas? There’s no need to venture into kitsch territory at Cantina Laredo, where Mexico’s Distrito Federal inspires an elegant neutral palette and upscale takes on traditional dishes: for example, sushi-grade ahi tacos for $4.50 during happy hour. This cantina is relatively quiet and seats around the circular bar are plush, making it difficult to resist staying a while.
Pair $4 house wine and well drinks with ceviche and chorizo-spiked queso fundido ($4.50 each), or keep things simple with $2 domestic brews. At $5.50 for an order of three, half-price fajita, barbacoa, chicken or picadillo tacos are a steal. Add a few Casa ‘Ritas or import beers ($3 each) and it’s siesta time! 4-7 p.m. and 9 p.m. -close M-F and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sa. Bar only.
6035 N. Seventh St., Phoenix
Sister to The Clarendon Hotel’s Gallo Blanco, Otro Café plays to Mexican-born chef/owner Doug Robson’s aptitude for clean, sophisticated Mexico City fare. Amigos are welcomed by polished wood, unpainted cement block walls and crisp white furniture; views of a colorful street mural on the building next door provide visual pop. Happy hour is chill and unpretentious, with $1 off shareable apps like chile-studded guacamole ($3.50 small/$6.50 large) and grilled sweet corn coated in mayo and cotija ($5.50).
Grab a $3 brew at the bar and watch chefs skillfully dice carne asada for street tacos ($2.60), or class things up with $6 wines by the glass. A covered patio overlooking the Seventh Street bustle is the ideal place to take advantage of $5 house margaritas, sangria and uncomplicated cocktails like the Mosca Burro with Sobieski vodka, lime juice and ginger beer. 2-6 p.m. daily.