Carlos O’Brien’s began in 1978 as one restaurant in a Phoenix strip mall, but the popularity of its generously portioned Mexican comfort foods steadily garnered a loyal following and allowed the owners to expand to three full-service locations. All three restaurants exercise the same dedication to creating hearty entrees from beyond the border, browning the edges of veggies in trans-fat-free oil and grilling meats over a pile of smoldering habanero peppers. Meals include overstuffed chimichangas with machaca beef and sizzling fajitas with seasoned pork. The chefs’ silken guacamole and savory enchilada sauces add extra layers of homey flavor.
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.
Restaurant veterans BJ and Gilbert Hernandez infuse Spanish and Latin flavors into traditional Cuban cuisine at both Havana Cafe locations, where chef BJ?s menu has been winning awards since 1989. BJ's tapas have caught the attention of critics at the Arizona Republic and Fodor's the latter describing the ham-and-chicken croquettes and shrimp pancakes as "marvelous." For the house specialty Paella a la Havana, BJ combines five types of seafood?? including lobster, mussels, and scallops??with chicken breast, chorizo, pork, and saffron, and the classic Cubano sandwich sees the chef carefully layering imported ham, mortadella, roast pork,swiss cheese, and pickles, and then pressing the savory stack into a thin, toasty sandwich. Those dining in-house can sample sangria that was voted No. 1 by the Phoenix New Times.
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.