There’s plenty to love about Mexico’s favorite dish.
If there’s one thing Phoenicians can agree on, it’s tacos. Hard shell, soft shell, rolled, fried, pork, chicken, vegan: We love them all. In fact, a recent study found that Phoenix ranks as the ninth best taco city in America.
We scoured some of the Valley’s best mom-and-pop taquerias, local chains, and award-winning Mexican restaurants to find 10 must-try tacos, from classic flavors to imaginative combinations, that will have you saying ¡Ole!
1. Korean Fried Chicken Taco at CRUjiente Tacos
3961 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix
The Latin-inspired gastropub puts a hip, modern spin on its tacos with globally influenced flavor profiles. Each delicacy—whether crunchy “crujiente” or traditional street style—showcases a blend of textures and high-quality ingredients.
The Korean Fried Chicken Taco ($8.50) is a must-try. The crispy chicken is coated in gochujang, and its spiciness is balanced with compressed cabbage, pickled jalapeño, and mojo de cebollin, a green onion sauce.
[Photo of Braised Green Chili Chicken Taco, courtesy of Diego Pops]
2. Braised Green Chili Chicken Taco at Diego Pops
4338 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
With its trendy neon signage, eye-catching graphics, colorful Mexican pop art, and candy-hued furnishings, this stylish Mexican restaurant is anything but conventional.
The same goes for its creative fare. Diners rave about the crispy tacos, especially the Braised Green Chili Chicken ($4), which includes crema, cotija cheese, and house slaw. Bucking tradition, Diego Pops celebrates Taco Monday: Get $3 tacos all day long every Monday.
3. Quesabirria Tacos at El Super Taco
14620 N. Cave Creek Road, Phoenix
It’s easy to overlook this unassuming taco joint, tucked into an outworn strip center in North Phoenix. But if you do, you’re missing out.
The menu features a selection of mouth-watering Mexican staples, but the star here is the quesabirria taco. Fresh corn tortillas are soaked in a savory spiced broth, filled with succulent shredded beef and Oaxaca cheese, and grilled until perfectly crisp. $3.49 each or $13.99 for the meal, which includes three tacos, dipping consommé, and a drink.
4. Lobster Tacos at La Hacienda
7575 E. Princess Drive, Scottsdale
Celebrity chef Richard Sandoval’s fine-dining restaurant has been serving upmarket Mexican cuisine that features fresh, indigenous ingredients for more than a decade. Start your meal with the Lobster Tacos ($25)—or pair the dish with one of more than 200 tequilas served by the Tequila Goddess. Three petite flour tortillas are filled with chunks of sweet, buttery Maine lobster, black beans, and a spicy árbol cream.
5. Baja Sur Baby Shark Taco at La Santisima Gourmet Taco Shop
4117 N. 16th Street, Phoenix
With 42 protein-filled tacos and 14 veggie/vegan options, there’s something for everyone at this award-winning taqueria. Try the Mayan Cochiinita Pibil ($6), featuring 12-hour slow-roasted pork shoulder marinated in red achiote, or the La Santisima Specialty ($6.99-$7.98), with poblano peppers, veggies, toasted Oaxacan cheese, and your choice of steak, chicken, mahi mahi, or shrimp. A customer favorite is the Baja Sur Baby Shark ($6), which combines beer-battered wild baby shark with cabbage, cilantro sauce, and mayo.
6. Sonoran Taco at Taco Chelo
501 E. Roosevelt Street, Phoenix
Located on a bustling corner of Roosevelt Row, this buzz-worthy taco shop is known as much for its colorful decor by artist Gennaro Garcia as it is for Chef Sunny Santana’s flavor-filled fare.
The menu is limited, with nine taco options, all carefully crafted with fresh hand-made tortillas. The Sonoran Taco ($3.75)—filled with carne asada, cabbage, Sonoran salsa, and avocado salsa—is an explosion of flavor. Squeeze some fresh lime on top, and eat up.
7. Tacos Chiwas Taco at Tacos Chiwas
1028 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix
Chihuahua-style street food is the focus at this acclaimed family-owned eatery that was featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”
While Guy Fieri raved about the Barbacoa taco with smoked beef cheek, the namesake Tacos Chiwas taco ($2.75) is a signature standout. Hand-pressed corn tortillas are stuffed with juicy chunks of marinated beef, ham, jalapeños, and Anaheim chiles and drenched in melted asadero cheese.
8. Al Pastor Taco at Tacos Huicho
1941 E. Oak Street, Phoenix
For 20 years, this modest carnecería has been dishing up some unexpected taco options, including tripe (stomach), cabeza (head), lengua (tongue), and cecina (salt-cured beef). But it’s best known for its al pastor, which owner Mauricio Mena has been making since he was 12.
Spit-roasted pork, marinated in chiles and pineapple, is carved directly into fresh corn tortillas. $1.75 each; $1.25 on Taco Tuesdays.
9. Crispy Avocado Taco at Tarbell’s Wine Bar
3213 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix
Tacos in a wine store? Why not! Tarbell’s Wine Bar emphasizes high-quality local, sustainable, organic ingredients—but in a more laid-back setting, with small plates complementing the extensive wine list.
Try the Crispy Avocado Tacos ($13). Thick wedges of fried avocados on hand-made corn tortillas are topped with cabbage, ancho chile puree, cotija cheese, salsa verde, spicy aioli, and pickled shallots. The bold flavors will satisfy vegetarians and carnivores alike.
10. Baja Taco at The Beach House
501 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix
One bite of the popular fish taco at this groovy taco shack—where the vibe is more California than Mexico—and you’ll be shouting, “Far out!”
Grilled or battered fried white fish is served on your choice of a flour or corn tortilla with cabbage slaw, rice, pinto beans, cheese, and pico de gallo, and then smothered in one of seven sometimes sweet, sometimes spicy, always flavorful “F’ing Awesome” sauces. $2.50/taco; 3 for $6.
BONUS: Native Taco at Fry Bread House
4545 N. 7th Avenue, Phoenix
While not your traditional taco, this indigenous dish is authentic to Arizona.
Developed by the Diné people in the mid-1800s, the Native taco—also known as the Indian or Navajo taco—swaps tortillas for sweet, chewy fry bread. The classic taco is layered with refried beans, cheese, and lettuce ($10), or top it with your choice of ground beef, red or green chile, or chorizo ($13.50).