Tacos are a staple of many Arizona residents’ diets. There is an array of fantastic Mexican restaurants around Phoenix that provide classic tacos as well as unique twists on more traditional offerings. There is always something new to try, and you may be surprised to see what kind of tacos you can get near you. Here are the best types of tacos you can get around Phoenix.
1. Classic Tacos
You really cannot go wrong with classic tacos containing shredded beef, chicken or machaca. These can come in either soft or crispy shells. The meat alone will be flavorful enough, but you can also get yours with traditional toppings of tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, and sour cream. You can also slather some red sauce onto your tacos if you are so inclined. For many people, these are the best tacos. They are simple yet effective. They get the job done, and you really cannot ask for more than that.
2. Shrimp Tacos
Instead of getting the meat on land, many restaurants look toward the sea for inspiration. You will be able to find shrimp tacos with bell peppers, oregano and tomato sauce. You may even be able to get a little bacon for some added zest. Once you take that first bite, you’ll understand why shrimp tacos are a popular AZ favorite.
3. Braised Pineapple Pork Tacos
Now we are getting into tacos that are a bit more outside of the box. Braised pineapple pork tacos bring together the tropical profile of pineapple with the smokiness of pork. It produces an outstanding aroma, especially when you top it with cotija cheese. It is a simple taco, but it does the job in leaving you full and satisfied.
4. Al Pastor Tacos
Al pastor is thinly sliced pork that has been seasoned with pineapple and chilies. It is perfect in tacos, especially when you top it with thin slices of pineapple and green jalapeño sauce. Depending on where you get your al pastor tacos from, you may even be able to get them with slices of nopales, which is prickly pear cactus. It is a rare delicacy, so you have to try it if you get the chance.
5. Fish Tacos
Arizona may not be near an ocean, but that does not stop local restaurants from getting their hands on fresh fish. It is the ideal dish for happy hour. The classic fish taco consists of beer-battered mahi mahi that has been bathed with some lime-spiked aioli. You can throw some cabbage on there too if you like, but really, you cannot go wrong with just plain fish.
6. Veggie Tacos
In the event you are completely vegetarian or just not in the mood for a meat taco, you do not have to feel like you are left out. Many establishments around Phoenix have begun to offer a greater array of vegetarian tacos. Instead of meat, they boast an impressive array of grilled vegetables, such as mushrooms and zucchinis. With sliced avocado, you get a tasty dish that packs plenty of essential nutrients.
7. Tacos de Lengua
This dish translates to “tongue tacos,” which is aptly named because they consist of cow tongue. They are not for the faint of heart. However, if you are willing to try them out, you will be pleasantly surprised. Cow tongue is incredibly rich, but it is soft. You will not have to struggle to chew the meat to get it down. For professional taco eaters, it is essential to try.
8. The “Macho” Taco
For tacos that are flavorful and satisfying, you need to opt for the so-called “macho” tacos. They consist of a green chile melded into a crisp, flour tortilla. It comes piled with perfectly seasoned carne asada, cabbage, and melted Monterey jack cheese. You can also cover the tacos in a runny avocado salsa for some extra flavor. They are packed to the brim, but as long as you are not afraid of a little mess, they sure are tasty.
9. Contemporary Chicken Tacos
In Phoenix, you can find chicken tacos so fresh, you can taste each separate ingredient. Along with the seasoned chicken, they can come with fresh cilantro, queso, and pickled red onion. While the tacos may not look like much at first, you just have to try them to believe.
10. Shark Taco
You do not have to worry about getting into the water when you order a shark taco. It contains beer-battered shark on a locally-sourced tortilla. Sharks will not seem so scary after you have taken a bite out of one. It makes for a one-of-a-kind experience that you can brag about to all of your friends.
11. Blue Cheese Taco
Putting blue cheese on a taco may not be your first instinct, but once you try it, it all becomes clear. You can order a steak taco piled with chile aioli and blue cheese. It is a strange combination, but oddly enough, it works.
12. Street Tacos
You have not lived until you have tried authentic street tacos. If it is your first time, then you will want to stick with the basics. You can order yours with egg, cheese and steak. It makes for the perfect breakfast that will wake you up instantly. You will feel full and ready to tackle anything the day has in store for you.
13. Cochinita Pibil Tacos
If you want to take your pork tacos to the next level, then you need to order some cochinita pibil tacos. The difference is that the pork is marinated in sour orange before getting grilled. This gives it a distinct citrusy flavor. To complete the flavor profile, you can top it with pico de gallo and sour orange onions.
14. Manta Ray Tacos
Did you know you could actually eat manta ray? Not every place offers it, so you need to give it a go when the opportunity presents itself. You can get tacos loaded with chunks of manta ray and topped with shrimp, fresh tomatoes, and cabbage. It is a distinctive dish and it’s perfect when you want something out of the ordinary for your next meal.
15. Heirloom Quinoa Tacos
This is another vegetarian taco option. It consists of a combination of black beans, quinoa, avocado and corn. It is a hearty dish that will fill you up more than a standard veggie taco. Even hardcore carnivores will come back for seconds with this dish.
16. Potato Tacos
You do not need meat to complete a taco when you can get it filled with delicious potatoes. You can top it with a cilantro-lime dressing and cotija cheese. When you eat this taco, you will not miss the meat in the slightest.
Come Try the Best Tacos in Phoenix
You can try all these tacos and more at this year’s Arizona Taco Festival. Over 50 Mexican restaurants will gather at WestWorld of Scottsdale, and each place offers unique tacos for every type of foodie. Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions concerning the festival. We look forward to seeing how many tacos you can eat!
Image: Joshua Resnick