There is much debate among locals when it comes to the topic of tacos. Whether you like ’em hot and spicy, rolled, fried, street-style or stuffed, East Valley restaurants offer an endless variety to please any palate. The following are three Local Lily favorites to try the next time you’ve got a taste for tacos.
355 N. Arizona Ave., Chandler
(480) 963-6763 or elmerstacos.com
Opened in 1974, this old-school taco shop has been a fan favorite of neighboring Chandler High School. This Sonoran-style Mexican restaurant offers daily taco specials, including house-made machaca (beef or chicken), pastor (marinated pork), carne asada (steak), and spicy chicken. A personal favorite is the crispy potato taco ($2), while a hungry man might prefer the Double Decker ($2). Save room for sides, because Elmer’s also offers all the traditional taco plate fixin’s, like beans and cheese, rice and guacamole.
Joyride Taco House
302 N. Gilbert Rd. Gilbert
(480) 632-8226 or joyridetacohouse.com
New to downtown Gilbert, Joyride is the kind of place you hope to discover when exploring a new city with friends. From the creators of Postino, Churn, Windsor and Federal Pizza, the vibe in this swinging taco spot does not disappoint. Cool servers, a simple menu and impressively fresh food and cocktails create an exceptional dining experience. Sophisticated flavors for foodies include Short Rib with cotija, avocado, cabbage, cilantro and gastrique onions ($4), cochinita pibil with tomatillo salsa, cilantro and onions ($3.50), and chicken tinga with avocado, cabbage, cilantro and white magic a.k.a. house lime aioli ($3.50). Daily aguas frescas can be ordered con booze or without and come in flavors like pineapple, citrus, and cucumber-mint.
1524 E. University Drive, Mesa
(480) 464-8226 or backyardtaco.com
Famous for their tacos al carbon, owners Ruben and Maricela bring the flavors of Mazatlan, Mexico, to Mesa. Fresh ingredients, a mesquite grill, a from-scratch salsa bar, and an adorable dog-friendly patio make Backyard Taco a new East Valley favorite. This simple menu satisfies and offers a choice of corn or flour tortillas filled with carne asada or chicken for only $1.80 each. Have more mouths to feed? Order a Paquette Familiar/Family Packet, which includes 16 tortillas and salsa, and carne asada or chicken for only $20 per pound. Drinks include Mexican bottled sodas, horchata and agua fresca flavors like limonada.
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