Following Baja Fresh’s ethos set in 1990 as a healthy take on fast food, never-frozen meats sizzle atop the grill before they're tucked into made-to-order tacos and burritos. Grilled corn and flour tortillas embrace fish, carnitas, chicken, and steak, and smoky queso fundido sidles onto nachos and into burritos. Between bites, chips scoop up salsa made from farm-fresh produce rather than poured out of a can or fabricated in a space-age replicator. A complimentary salsa bar ensures no mouthful goes unspiced, and guests can scoop up their favorites as they await their dine-in, takeout, or catering orders.
A 6.5-pound behemoth of a burrito can really only have one name: the Big Papi. At Papi Chulo's Mexican Grill & Cantina these giants of gastronomy, which were recently featured in Phoenix Magazine, are waiting to be conquered by challengers willing to dethrone current champion Stephanie Torres, a competitive eater who has appeared in the Nathan's Famous Women's Hot Dog Eating World Championship. On the regular menu, Papi Chulo's executive chef combines Mexican tradition with Sonoran familiarity to craft authentic Southwestern dishes with a down-home feel. The staff serves regular lunch specials, Mexican favorites such as chiles rellenos, and breakfast specialties including huevos rancheros and chorizo and eggs.
Inside the spacious dining room, imported Mexican furniture sits below exposed wooden beams bearing wrought-iron chandeliers ideal for illuminating a special meal or supporting the weight of a masked Zorro impersonator. Attended by a sunny wait staff, the bar slings specialty margaritas and happy-hour specials every day that patrons can enjoy indoors or on the outdoor patio in full view of Camelback Mountain. Papi Chulo's also hosts regular events including poker nights on Mondays and live comedy every Friday and Saturday night.
Named for a Spanish legend about the romance between a sailor and a mermaid, Salty Senorita encourages guests to fall in love with their over 50 hand crafted margaritas instead. Waiters carry deep bowls of guacamole with handmade tortilla chips, plates of shrimp and mango quesadillas, and 11 kinds of tacos, which can be accompanied by 130 kinds of tequila and various mixed drinks. Waitresses' tank tops and short-shorts continue the beachside vibe created by shark frescos and blue-mosaic columns that sometimes fling seaweed at passersby.
The authentic offerings hat-dancing across Blue Burrito's menu marinate expectations in garlic and grill them into delicious oblivion (menus vary slightly by location). Appetize yourself with the complex complexion of a Mexican fajita pizza (double-layered tortilla pizza with grilled chicken or steak, pico de gallo, grilled peppers and onions, and melted cheese, $9.95), before boldly moving on to a specialty such as the two flautas and a taco platter, which comes chained to sides of Mexican rice, black or pinto beans, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, and tomato ($7.25).
Heaping portions of Sonoran-style Mexican food whisk palates away to the plains of Northern Mexico at Someburros, a quick-service restaurant renowned for its authentic family recipes and from-scratch preparations. The menu's house specialties exemplify the care and culinary ingenuity honed over three generations of Vasquez family cooking, as the restaurant has evolved from its early days as a small South Phoenix takeout. The house-made salsa adds a piquant accoutrement to the pollo fundido’s jalapeño cream cheese–topped tortilla, coaxing out its marinated chunks of chicken breast with the toasty warmth of fiery spice. The restaurant’s eponymous burros pack soft tortillas with beans, melty cheese, and meats such as green chili beef or grilled carne asada. Cascades of 32-ounce soda, lemonade, or iced tea capably relieve tongues tingling from spices or licking lightning-flavored stamps.
Owner and chef Azucena Tovar's spice-laden menu bursts with fresh ingredients and Mexican comfort fare that has garnered Los Sombreros several awards from publications such as the Phoenix New Times. Stomachs are revved up by sharable starters such as the crab and mango salad ($9.95) and the huitlacoche crepas, with each flaky crepe delivering Mexican truffles under a shower of goat and blue cheese drizzled in pomegranate sauce ($9.95). Entrees sizzle up in the exhibition-style kitchen, flaunting their savory aromas and silverware duels in varieties such as the slow-roasted carnitas ($17.95) and the rib eye con cuatro salsas, ensconcing carnivorous bites with four fruit-and-veggie medleys ($21.95).