Imagine a place with over 150,000 tacos, tequila tasting, and chihuahua beauty pageants. Well this place was a reality just last weekend at the Arizona Taco Festival at the Salt River Fields. If you missed this year’s events, here’s a recap of some of our favorite tacos and vendors.
The taco festival works on a coin system. Each coin is worth $2, which is the price of all the tacos. This system worked pretty well and helped cut down on line time as vendors didn’t have to deal with giving change or running credit cards. Just walk up to the booth, drop your coin in the bucket, and get a taco. As simple as that. Drinks and other items ranged from 3-6 coins. Now to the tacos!
Our first stop was Pinche Gringo. They had a few options including a shrimp, shredded chicken, and beef brisket taco. We went with the beef brisket and were not disappointed. The slow smoked brisket had a nice sweet flavor, paired with a smoky mayo sauce and spicy salsa helped give it a nice kick. We enjoyed the traditional toppings of cilantro, lettuce and cojita cheese. Despite having gringo in the name, these were anything but gringo tacos.
Just a few booths over we continued over to Crujiente Tacos. Crujiente Tacos had the genius idea of doing a pre-launch at the Taco Festival, as their doors do not officially open until November 1st, and we cannot wait to visit! The man serving the tacos gave such a vivid description of the flavors of each taco that we just had to get both. On the left is the slow cooked beef taco in a crunchy shell. The beef is slow cooked several times in a mix of spices, jalapeños, and serrano peppers. It is then hand shredded and slow cooked again. The flavors were so rich and the crispy shell was a nice change of pace from all the soft corn tortillas. To the right we have a pork belly green chile taco. Tender and flavorful pork belly accompanied with a crunchy lettuce almost put us into taco coma, but alas, our journey had just begun.
Next up is Paz Cantina! Even though I was repping a Paz shirt, I swear I was unbiased in my review (it was actually the free churros that got me). We went for the Chicken Tinga tacos topped with pickled pink onions, crema, and cabbage. The red roasted chicken was flavored perfectly and the zing of the pickled onions added a nice depth to the little taco. The churros were crispy and covered in cinnamon and caramel sauce, so really the most thing perfect ever. A nice break from all the savory tacos. Paz also had a vegetarian taco filled with brussel sprouts, kale, and pinto beans, affectionately called The Hippie.
If we had to give an award for most variety, United Luchadores Taco Truck would take the gold. From left to right: Hey Goat, All Thai’d Up, and Tacosito. Hey Goat was definelty the most interesting taco we had. The goat flavor was savory and a great change of pace from all the chicken and beef. All Thai’d Up was technically a quesadilla, but it was so good it snuck its way into the taco festival. It had a nice spicy thai flavor with crunchy peppers and gooey cheese. The best (and actually only) fusion of mexican and thai food we have ever had. We applaud them on their creativity. If a goat taco and thai quesadilla were a little too adventurous for you, United Luchadores showed that they can still make a great traditional taco with their Tacosito.
We had room for a few more tacos so Tacos Huicho was our last stop. Their booth had a nice “build your own” set up. You would choose your meat then go to the station and load up on toppings and sauces. On the left we have the chicken with mild green salsa, cilantro, and lime. On the right we have carnitas with hot salsa, cilantro, lettuce, and lime. Both meats were moist and with rich flavor. The mild green salsa had the perfect amount of spice, but if you like a little (or a lot) more heat the hot salsa is the way to go.
To say we were full and satisfied by the end of the day is a bit of an understatement. Not pictured were a few margaritas (not for the pregnant bitch of course), a frozen key lime pie pop, and some corn on the cob. The Taco Festival is an event the whole family can enjoy with food (beyond tacos), kids events, and lots of entertainment (from luchadora fights to chihuahua beauty pageants). Make sure you save the date next year so you don’t miss out on taco heaven.