There’s little not to love about Tex-Mex, but it’s also hard to distinguish the difference between Mexican food that happens to be served in Texas and Tex-Mex. I have a theory that queso is the difference. Sure, queso literally means cheese in Spanish, but in Tex-Mex it means melty cheesy sauce. Torchy’s Tacos (originally from Austin) in San Antonio had some attractive queso on its menu, but I was also eager to eat its namesake tacos.
Tacos, tacos and more tacos. That was the premise of the Rockin’ Taco Rumble in Downtown Phoenix on March 2nd, 2018. $45 got you unlimited tacos, six drinks and a wooden nickel to vote for your favorite taco. It took place at Events on Jackson, which was a pretty cool venue, but what was much less cool was the fact that some spots were already running out of tacos by the time I arrived and the lines were crazy long. Nevertheless, I persisted and was able to identify some favorites.
We can all agree that Phoenix is not LA. Good, now that that’s settled, Phoenix does appear to get an event or two on occasion, and the first since I made the big move was the 8th Annual Arizona Taco Festival, which converged at the Salt River Fields in Scottsdale. While the place is better-known for MLB spring training, the vast field was put to good use in hosting dozens of vendors pushing mostly tacos, but also drinks, desserts and the occasional t-shirt.
Just when you thought there couldn’t be any more breakfast spots in Scottsdale for me to visit, I give you First Watch. Now, First Watch actually has locations in 17 states, so it’s not entirely special to Scottsdale. And from what I had been told, it was not entirely special no matter which location you went to. Yet, that didn’t stop me from finding the one thing on the menu that seemed unique and unvegan.
Hot on the heels of visiting perhaps the most overpriced (but still tasty) Mexican place I have ever been to, La Hacienda, I took a trip to Scottsdale Quarter to eat at Sol. Sol’s prices may not rival La Hacienda’s, but it is certainly in the upscale Mexican food family. Of course, it is not lost on me that while “sol” means “sun” in Spanish, it is also the name of the money in Peru.
A lot of good things are happening in Downtown LA these days. One of these things is B.S. Taqueria, which is kind of like a spin-off from Broken Spanish, a restaurant that I have never been to and probably never will. Not surprisingly, it specializes in tacos. After a bit of a wait, we made our way to the back section that felt like eating outdoors at a taqueria in the tropics.
Breweries are the best, right? And they typically have awesome food. That’s why I was pretty excited to find out Phoenix was getting a new brewery called Helio Basin and tried to make my way there at the first opportunity. Plus, it didn’t hurt that I had a connection at the place and wanted to show some support.
Tacos tu Madre was blowing up all over the social media a few months ago with amazing-looking burritos that seemed to represent a new level of delicious fusion. Thus, I had to give the place a try and had my best opportunity when out in West LA. They were out of a couple things, but this didn’t impact what I had in mind. There are a number of options and they are all available as a burrito, a taco or a bowl.
Pittsburgh may be a great city, but it was unquestionably missing the riches of Mexican food that can be found in LA. When I told people about my new digs in Echo Park, a number of them said I had to check out Guisados, which was apparently home to amazing tacos. I took these recommendations to heart, pushed them on my family and set out to pick up a number of these tacos for us to eat.
EDIT: This location is extinct, but there’s another in Beechview if you want to go alllll the way out there.
After two failed attempts to pay a visit to Casa Rasta due to inaccurate hours posted online, I finally made it there. I was expecting a quick in and out fast casual sort of place, but was surprised when I found it to be an eat-in sort of place instead. The menu was full of things I would have wanted to eat, but my stomach is only so big.