Search Modern Luxury

Taqueria Centro's vegetarian green chili and nopal tacos

FEATURES

Taco the Town

By Lauren Swanson-Tyda

The Mission taco photo by Nicky Hedayatzadeh

09.17.18

Top chefs are using tacos as their muse for combining the most eclectic proteins, sauces and produce into one perfect tortilla-hugged bite. In honor of the epicurean delight that is the annual Arizona Taco Festival Oct. 13 and 14 (VIP tickets from $100, aztacofestival.com), here are five haute tacos from local restaurants that will help you break out of your shell and fall in love with Arizona’s signature dish.

1. CRUjiente Tacos
Chef Richard Hinojosa’s culinary talents have taken him from fine-dining restaurants at resorts in Arizona, Hawaii, Colorado and California all the way to The Food Network’s Chopped. But this Valley native believes the secret to bridging the gap between street food and culinary creativity is putting eclectic ingredients atop handmade blue corn tortillas. At CRUjiente, Hinajosa has used everything from butter-poached lobster and jumbo scallops to sweetbreads and tripe to decorate his Taco de la Semana. (Psst, a word to the wise: They sell out almost every week, so check the resto’s Instagram for weekly features and get in sooner rather than later.) 3961 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix, 602.687.7777

2. Deseo
The Millionaire Tacos ($21) at this Westin Kierland Resort & Spa restaurant earn their baller status from chef de cuisine Derek Biazo’s use of yuca root to craft the shell, which holds in its embrace a ceviche of lobster, ahi tuna and Japanese hamachi. Each one is small enough to devour in a single bite, but the symphony of flavors is well worth the price tag. 6902 E. Greenway Parkway, Scottsdale, 480.624.1202 

La Hacienda's strawberry margarita tacos

3. La Hacienda
Recently reopened and sporting a revamped interior and menu, this Fairmont Scottsdale Princess eatery has been voted No. 1 Mexican restaurant in Arizona and sports such innovative tacos as Baja-style halibut ($28) with pickled chile tartar and strawberry margarita tacos ($12) stuffed with tequila cheesecake, strawberry-lime salsa and a white chocolate-dipped tortilla. 7575 E. Princess Drive, Scottsdale, 480.585.4848

4. The Mission
This cozy Scottsdale eatery has long received high marks for its elevated Latin cuisine. One might be seduced by the entrees, which include luscious dishes like Florida grouper ($36) with paella reduction, banana crab croquette, crispy quinoa and pickled fresno peppers. But the taco menu also boasts some unique Mexican flare. Think smoked and slow-braised pork shoulder with pineapple habanero glaze ($34); roasted lamb, piquillo pepper, sesame de arbol and honey yuzu yogurt ($42); and Brussels sprouts accented with apple, ginger and cotija. 3815 N. Brown Ave., Scottsdale, 480.636.5005; 7122 E. Greenway Parkway, Scottsdale, 480.292.7800

5. Taqueria Centro
With a veritable grove of cactus populating our landscape, you would think finding perfectly charred nopales would be easy breezy. But, alas, it’s a rare and delightful find in local restaurants—which is why we love the vegetarian green chili and nopal tacos ($13) at Omni Scottsdale Resort at Montelucia’s popular lunch and dinner spot. 4949 E. Lincoln Drive, Scottsdale, 480.627.3043

The Mission's slow-braised pork shoulder taco with pineapple habanero glaze ($34)