AAA Travel Tips / Phoenix, Culinarily Speaking

Phoenix, Culinarily Speaking

flickr / CC BY-SA/stu_spivack
By AAA Travel Editor Frank Swanson
February 08, 2019
Although a relatively young Sun Belt city that’s seen most of its dramatic growth only in the last few decades, Phoenix has a long history at the crossroads of Native American, Mexican and American cultures. Nowhere is that more obvious than at local restaurants that serve such distinctive cuisine as Navajo fry bread, chimichangas, Sonoran hot dogs and savory machaca beef stuffed into tacos and burritos.
The Fry Bread House restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona
AAA/Frank Swanson
The Fry Bread House
4545 N. 7th Ave.
AAA Inspector Rating
(602) 351-2345
The AAA One Diamond Fry Bread House serves what its name says: delicious fry bread, a Native American treat often referred to as Navajo fry bread that is associated with carnivals and fairs. Basically it’s dough fried in a skillet in a puddle of vegetable shortening, which produces a puffy, golden brown disk of bread tasty enough to eat plain. Of course at The Fry Bread House, they don’t just serve it plain. You can get it folded around a wide variety of taco ingredients including cheese, beans, ground beef and chorizo. And for dessert try an open-faced fry bread topped with honey, chocolate sauce or cinnamon and sugar.
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The exterior of La Pinata Mexican restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona
AAA/Frank Swanson
La Pinata
5521 N. 7th Ave.
AAA Inspector Rating
(602) 279-1763
Phoenix is among the handful of locales claiming to be the birthplace of the deep-fried burrito known as the chimichanga, now found at Mexican-themed restaurants throughout the United States. AAA Two Diamond La Piñata has been refining their signature chimichanga dish since it first opened in 1970, and claims to be the first to serve it topped with guacamole, cheese, sour cream, diced tomatoes and onions. To get the full Sonoran experience, order a chimi filled with flavorful machaca beef and a side of cheese crisp—a flour tortilla smothered beneath a layer of cheeses that looks like a Mexican interpretation of a pizza.
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Mexican food
iStockphoto.com/rez-art
La Santisima Gourmet Taco Shop
1919 N. 16th St.
AAA Inspector Rating
(602) 254-6330
A standout among local restaurants, AAA One Diamond La Santisima delivers unique flavors from diverse Mexican regions (including the state of Sonora) with their menu of taco, burrito (called burros locally) and quesadilla dishes. Among the fresh, appetizing ingredients that make this place so popular you’ll find Oaxacan cheese, fresh flour tortillas, chiles, wild mushrooms, dogfish and arrachera steak. Rightfully famous for their tacos—particularly the Sonoran carne asada or the Mayan cochinita pibil tacos—La Santisima also offers an amazing salsa bar with more than a dozen homemade versions to choose from.
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Entree, Mexican, enchiladas, rice, sour cream, tortilla bowl, diced tomato
AAA/Inspector 33
Macayo's Mexican Table
7829 W. Thomas Rd.
AAA Inspector Rating
(623) 873-0313
Macayo’s has been a Phoenix institution since 1946 when founder Woody Johnson is said to have accidentally created the first chimichanga. So of course this Desert Sky Mall location of the legendary chain serves chimis—three kinds—as well as other Mexican favorites like tacos, burros (burritos) and fajitas. Sonoran-style cheese crisp is a popular starter, and if you’re having trouble choosing the perfect dish, try the Sonoran enchilada trio—three savory enchiladas filled with beef, chicken and cheese. And if you have a sweet tooth, try the mini chocolate chimis for dessert. The dining room’s bright, contrasting colors create a festive setting for your meal, so it’s no surprise that AAA Two Diamond Macayo is one of the Desert Sky area’s fun things to do with friends.
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Sonoran Hot Dogs
flickr / CC BY-SA/stu_spivack
Sonoran Hot Dogs
Various Locations
A staple of carts, food trucks and other mobile places to eat throughout Phoenix, Sonoran hot dogs inspire a devoted and passionate following among locals, who all seem to have a favorite version. The typical Sonoran-style dog is grilled, wrapped in bacon and topped with beans, chopped tomatoes and onions and drizzled with mayo. They usually come served in a roll called a bolillo that’s more like French bread than a traditional hot dog bun. Additional mouth-watering toppings you’ll see around town include cheese, guacamole, salsa, jalapenos, mustard and ketchup.
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