Think outside the Bell: Where to find Tucson's best tacos
The 2022 Taco Bell New Year's Eve Downtown Bowl Bash? Really?
What's been dubbed as the "2022 Taco Bell New Year's Eve Downtown Bowl Bash" will occupy Tucson this weekend, part of the Arizona Bowl activities that help showcase our city to a national audience. But Tucsonans know that real tacos don't come from that fast-food megachain.
Taco Bell? Hard shell or soft, Doritos Locos Mountain Dew Mesquite Crunchbomination or whatever, we'll take a hard pass.
The bowl-related event will cause road closures in Downtown Tucson from 11 a.m. on Friday through 7 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 1, and we're sure plenty of people will have plenty of fun. The home of the "run for the border" isn't the only rather questionable sponsor of the Arizona Bowl, but the downtown party will include a performance by Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, a silent disco, food and beer trucks and what's become a traditional midnight giant "taco drop" on New Year's Eve. Sounds cool — just check out some real local eats, including tacos, while you're there.
For those visiting Tucson who crave some more authentic and local Mexican cuisine, here's a list of some of the favorites of the Tucson Sentinel staff:
1. El Taco Tote, 4811 N. Stone Ave.
El Taco Tote has a history as a family business. The first El Taco Tote location opened in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, in 1988. The chain grew, spreading through Mexico and the United States.
2. Street Taco & Beer Company, 58. Congress St.
Street Taco & Beer Company has not only multiple bottled beer options, they have brews on tap as well as a full bar. Their tacos start at $2.
3. Seis Kitchen, 130 S. Avenida del Convento #100, 1765 E. River Rd. #131 and 9740 N. Oracle Rd. #110
Seis Kitchen is open for all meals of the day, serving items such as chorizo burritos for breakfast and taco platters for lunch and dinner.
4. Birrieria Guadalajara, 304 E. 22nd St.
Birrieria Guadalajara serves favorite dishes such as huevos rancheros, tostadas, tortas, soups and of course, tacos.
5. Tanias 33, 614 N. Grande Ave.
Tanias 33 serves a wide range of food offerings. Their flour tortillas are handmade. They make vegan options for those who have their dietary restrictions. People can go eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
6. Anita Street Market, 849 N. Anita Ave.
Aside from classics like cheese enchiladas and cheese enchiladas, Anita Street Market also serves the pizzadilla - which is a 12-inch birria pizza with white cheese, onions, and fresh cilantro on a flour tortilla.
7. Tacos y Mariscos Jalisco, 999 N. Swan Rd.
Aside from the usual taco fixings, Tacos y Mariscos Jalisco also offer fish, shrimp and octopus tacos. The shrimps can also come in a seafood plate with rice, beans, salad, guacamole and tortillas.
8. Tumerico, 402 E. 4th Ave. and 2526 E. 6th St.
Tumerico is a vegan and vegetarian restaurant, re-imagining dishes that usually contain meat into meatless meals, making them ideal for people with food restrictions, preferences and sensitivities.
9. Aqui con El Nene, 65 W. Valencia Rd.
Aqui con El Nene serves not only tacos and burritos, but they also serve hot dogs.
10. Tacos Apson, 3501 S. 12th Ave. and 6741 N. Thornydale Rd. #121
Tacos Apson sells tacos with popular toppings such as carne asada or carne al pastor, but they also make cabeza and legua/tripa tacos.
11. Micha's Restaurant, 2908 S. 4th Ave.
Micha's Restaurant is also a family owned and operated establishment. They serve tacos and tostadas as well as topopo salads, sandwiches, chimichangas, plates and more. They're also open for breakfast.
12. La Chaiteria, 1002 W. Congress St.
This neighborhood cafe is a creation of Tumerico's owner and chef Wendy Garcia. They also serve vegetarian and vegan options along their other dishes. They have a salsa bar and a latte menu featuring flavors such as horchata, mazapan and mole.
13. Martins Comida Chingona, 557 N. 4th Ave.
Martins Comida Chingona's menu runs a little old school but it still offers variety. Their tacos options are many and suitable for all tastes.
14. La Yaquesita Tacos, 500 N. 4th Ave.
La Yaquesita had originally started off as a food truck. Their location on 4th Avenue serves Sonoran tacos, bowls and birria ramen.
15. Los Perches Urban Sonoran Grill, 238 N. 4th Ave.
Los Perches is tucked in the Boxyard on 4th Avenue. They're well-known for their bacon-wrapped burritos, but their tacos are delicious as well.
16. BOCA by Chef Maria Mazon, 533 N. 4th Ave.
Boca is a taco restaurant owned by James Beard Foundation semi-finalist Maria Mazon. Be sure to order their salsas — you might try a flavor you haven't seen before.
17. La Chingada Cocina Mexicana, 110 E. Pennington St.
La Chingada Cocina Mexicana is a good spot to visit to enjoy some live music with a margarita and some quesa-birria tacos.
18. Any random food truck.
See that taco truck sitting in the dusty vacant lot down the street? It's probably amazing. Grab four different tacos and a drink, make sure you've got some salsa, and pull up one of those white plastic chairs and enjoy.
We may be a United Nations City of Gastronomy and all, but that doesn't mean some of our very best eating isn't fancy at all.
Bianca Morales is TucsonSentinel.com’s Cultural Expression and Community Values reporter, and a Report for America corps member supported by readers like you.