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Let's Talk About Tacos: 7 Places to Get Your Fix in DTPHX

April 13, 2018 by Taylor Bishop

The tacos de asada with the flavorful vegetarian tacos at Céntrico. (Photo: Taylor Bishop)

Spring has sprung and Downtown Phoenix is bustling with people looking to work and play in the city. Whether you’re here for a Diamondbacks game or just need a bite to eat, tacos are always the way to go.

I had the difficult task of picking out a few of my favorites and having to taco-bout what makes them special. From months old to classic DTPHX restaurants, there is always something exciting and new to try in our city.

CÉNTRICO / 202 N. CENTRAL AVENUE

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Céntrico certainly belongs on this list as a new member of the DTPHX restaurant scene. Serving up flavorful tacos, chilaquiles and other Mexican favorites, Céntrico brings Pete Salaz’ bar knowledge and Edson Madrigal’s Oaxacan family recipes to Downtown Phoenix.

The tacos de asada are a fan favorite boasting grilled skirt steak, nopal (cactus), homemade salsa chipotle and guacamole taquero. I couldn’t resist adding Oaxaca cheese and just a few bites of my friend’s vegan tacos.

You can find Céntrico on the ground floor of Hotel San Carlos on the northwest corner of Central Avenue and Monroe Street.

GALLO BLANCO / 928 E. PIERCE ST.

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What’s taco Tuesday without a taco feast? Gallo Blanco is popular for its colorful cocktails, homemade tortillas and of course, tacos. The La Parillada serves up a choice of two meats in a sizzling skillet with six tortillas to accompany.

I’m not a taco expert, but I have eaten quite a few tacos in my years, and these stole the show with their simple, yet delicious flavors. Pictured above is the del mar taco in the front, al pastor in the back and the vegetable taco.

A visit to Gallo Blanco isn’t complete without trying their elote callejero and finishing with the churros served with caramel, chocolate and condensed milk.

Gallo Blanco is located in a historic building on the northwest corner of Tenth and Pierce streets in the Garfield neighborhood. The restaurants offers a variety of menu items for desayuno (breakfast), lunch and dinner with happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. and 9 to close.

M’OLE (US BANK TOWER) / 101 N. FIRST AVENUE

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Street corn, tacos and fried plantains — need I say more? Okay, I must add that you can get all three of these for just $10 at M’Ole.

The mix and match lunch menu allows patrons to choose from a menu of tacos, sides and desserts. The taco options are chicken, beef and veggie, which are perfectly paired with the pre-cut street corn and fried plantains topped with dulce de leche and ice cream.

 M’Ole is currently open for breakfast and lunch in the US Bank Tower on Monroe Street and First Avenue.

WILLIE’S TACO JOINT / 333 E. JEFFERSON ST.

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Willie’s Taco Joint is a gameday go-to if you’ve got the munchies or just want a cool drink while you people watch. The vibrant restaurant opened in early 2017 next door to the sports bar Coach’s Corner, which are under the same owner.

The specialty tacos at Willie’s range from green chili pork to fresh grilled mahi-mahi with the option to add beans and rice for $2 more. If you’re looking to grab a few drinks before the game, Willie’s offers a Coronita bucket for just $12.50 and a variety of colorful margaritas.

You can find Willie’s on Third and Jefferson streets between Chase Field and Talking Stick Resort Arena.

CHICO MALO /50 W. JEFFERSON ST.

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There’s always an excuse to celebrate, especially when Chico Malo has been in Downtown Phoenix for nearly a year now.

Over the past nearly 365 days we’ve enjoyed their refreshing cocktails and margaritas, made from scratch tacos and general “bad boy” aesthetic.

Choose from seven unique tacos on the lunch menu and mix and match three tacos for a reasonable $10. Although I’m still making my way through the menu, the al pastor is a favorite so far (pictured above with the diablo shrimp tacos).

Chico Malo is open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

EL CENTRO COCINA / 130 E. WASHINGTON ST.

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The Downtown Phoenix lunch scene just got spicier. El Centro Cocina is bringing the heat and meat to Washington Street with their classic street tacos and occasional Sonoran hot dogs.

The asada, pollo asada and pork belly are a treat, especially while enjoying the last few weeks of perfect weather on El Centro’s patio. Open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, El Centro offers lunch goers something new to look forward to during that nine to five grind.

TACO CHELO / 501 E. ROOSEVELT ST.

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The highly anticipated Taco Chelo is the latest from restaurateur Aaron Chamberlin of the Phoenix and Tempe Public Market Cafes. Partnering with chef Suny Santana and designer Gennaro Garcia, the trio bring authentic flavor and ambiance to Roosevelt Row.

Opened in March of 2018, Taco Chelo’s menu options are simple yet perfected. The menu is always changing, with tres leches and tamales being occasional options making you want to stop in whenever possible.

After visiting three times in a week (yes, it was that good), I can say that the beef barbacoa and the fish taco were favorites across the board. There was definitely the temptation to try everything, especially with only five tacos on the menu currently.

Guess I’ll just have to keep eating my way through Downtown Phoenix’s evolving and thriving taco scene.

*Photos by Taylor Bishop and Lauren Potter


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