Mex Tape

Craig OuthierApril 2019
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It was only after moving to Arizona that I really warmed to Mexico.

Not that I had much interaction with our neighbor to the south. Growing up in Southern California, I’d visited Tijuana a handful of times as a squirrelly teenager, but let’s be honest –  there’s not a lot to love about that soiled dove, unless you’re trying to upholster your car on the cheap, or are obsessed with Caesar salads. We ordered our Coronas, tossed back our tequilas and slipped back into the U.S. before nightfall. Even in our pre-adult naiveté, we knew nothing good happened in Tijuana after nightfall.

So when I visited Puerto Peñasco – read: Rocky Point – for the first time with my new Arizona friends, sometime in the late 1990s, my expectations were pretty low. I certainly wasn’t expecting anything like Playa Encanto, that solitary kingdom of shoreline east of town, where every house – at least in the 1990s – had robust, unimpeded ocean views, and no riffraff. It was like having a place in Malibu. Pristine and unspoiled. Epic sunsets.

Playa Encanto; Photo courtesy Craig Outhier
Playa Encanto; Photo courtesy Craig Outhier

Since then, I’ve been all over Mexico, from Guadalajara to the Yucatán, and my fascination with the country deepens with every trip. Stats show that many of my fellow gabachos feel the same way. After cratering in the late 2000s during the height of cartel violence – and the recession – U.S. tourism to Mexico has exploded over the past five years, rising almost 75 percent to 35 million visitors in 2018, according to AAA.

What could we do at PHOENIX, but devote our annual Summer Getaways issue to Mexico travel? Dispatching editors and writers all over the country, from La Paz on the Baja peninsula to Holbox on the Yucatán, we unearth the coolest pensions, the loveliest beaches and the must-visit taquerias that define any great Mexico vacation. We even show you what summer airfare costs to each of our 11 spotlight destinations. You can Go Mexico starting here.

Closer to home, we also take a walking tour of Downtown Phoenix’s ever-emerging arts district, Grand Avenue, with writer Amy Silverman serving as docent. The fabled drag and its future in a rapidly gentrifying part of the city has long been an object of fascination for the decorated Valley journalist, and – coupled with lavish images from photographers Tayler Brown and Nicole Neri – she delivers a captivating portrait of the place and its personalities in Grand Divide.

And that’s only a fraction of the news, personality and culture coverage in your May issue of PHOENIX, including a Four Corners dining review in which writer M.V. Moorhead discovers a new contender for the Valley’s best under-the-radar restaurant. A Mexican restaurant, as it happens. Irónico, no?

For more than 50 years, PHOENIX magazine's experienced writers, editors, and designers have captured all sides of the Valley with award-winning and insightful writing, and groundbreaking report and design. Our expository features, narratives, profiles, and investigative features keep our 385,000 readers in touch with the Valley's latest trends, events, personalities and places.