This story was created by #ThisIsTucson and underwritten by Visit Tucson, the proud supporting sponsor of Sonoran Restaurant Week, a delicious 10-day celebration of Tucson City of Gastronomy! Thank you for supporting the local organizations that support us!
Tucson is getting its own restaurant week! Starting Sept. 6, gourmet restaurants all over town will offer special three-course menus at a discounted price. This 10-day celebration gives budget diners a chance to explore our food scene and try something new (and delicious).
But unlike other restaurant weeks across the country, Sonoran Restaurant Week has a special component that was made up by me, the taco lady. I put together a self-guided Taco Tour of five iconic Tucson neighborhoods. Much of this was inspired by my previous project 100 Days of Tacos (AKA Andi's Cheat Summer) which taught me a lot about Tucson's unique landscape of Mexican food.
You can choose your own adventure by picking a neighborhood and then weaving your way through, eating all the tacos in your path. If you want to get real serious with it, I've also provided my recommendations at each stop. (And yes, I have eaten everything on this list.) Also check out the printable Taco Tour checklist attached to this article. How many spots have you been to?
Flowing Wells area
Start on Oracle Road and Miracle Mile and weave your way up toward the Tucson Mall. This takes you into Flowing Wells, an underrated food neighborhood with some of the best Mexican eateries in Tucson. These spots are distinctly Sonoran, whether they're serving carne asada or even seafood!
Sonoran-style mariscos are the name of the game at this food truck. Baja Mar has a sizable menu with some obscure seafoods like tuna fin, but we usually stick to the crispy fried shrimp tacos.
Molcas food truck has a little bit of everything — tortas, burros, Sonoran hot dogs and even a section of fritangas or fried foods — but we think they have one of the best carne asada tacos in town.
Taqueria Porfis, west side of Oracle Road south of Wetmore Road, phone: 520-882-4724
The original Taqueria Porfis is in Nogales, Sonora. But the business has a few Tucson locations including this stand near the Tucson Mall. They're known for their saucy steamed "tacos al vapor."
This taco truck has won several taco contests over the years and is considered one of Tucson's best. Aqui con El Nene's owner is from one of Sonora's best food cities, Ciudad Obregon. You've gotta try his Taco Yaqui with an entire green chile that's stuffed with meat and cheese.
La Yori, 2120 W. Ruthrauff Road
La Yori is a charming Mexican snack shop that sells raspados, elotes and such, but they also do a mean birria taco.
St. Mary's/West Side area
In the shadow of Tumamoc Hill, this route takes you down St. Mary's Road and into Barrio Hollywood, and then through the Menlo Park area toward the Mercado San Agustin. These are some of Tucson's oldest neighborhoods, and you can tell by the charming restaurant scene.
The West Side food truck El Antojo Poblano serves Central Mexican food from the state of Puebla, known for its cemita sandwiches and more. While it's not technically a taco, we wanted to recommend their corn masa huaraches because they are amazing. Get one with shredded chicken tinga.
This Barrio Hollywood business gets the award for cutest taqueria in Tucson. Tania's 33 has a sizable vegetarian menu, and we love the cauliflower tacos here.
La Fresita looks kind of like a Los Betos, but they actually make their own corn tortillas. We enjoyed them with the carne asada tacos, but we also had a really great breakfast burrito one day. If you're into Mexican border history, ask them about their Pollo Estilo Copa Cabana.
We usually come for the raspados and tostilocos, but we recently tried their hard-shelled tacos dorados with beef and potatoes inside. No more tostilocos for me.
You haven't lived until you've tried one of the crispy avocado tacos at this hip central Mexican spot Seis. Make sure you get the big ones though and not the little street tacos. (Go big or go home!)
South 12th Avenue area
My favorite neighborhood for a taco crawl! South 12th Avenue has more than a dozen Mexican restaurants, as well as elote and vegetable stands, meat markets and more. It's also home to some of the most popular Sonoran joints in Tucson, like BK Carne Asada and the James Beard Award-winning El Güero Canelo.
If you wanna know what tacos look like in Sonora, this is it. Tacos Apson is a little spot on the south side with a mesquite grill that cooks up every kind of beef you can imagine. Skip the testicles and go for the costillas or rib meat, which can be chopped up rasurado style for easy eating.
Some will argue that a taquito is not a taco. But those people are foolish. Ignore them and head to this trendy spot Rollies for some chicken rolled tacos, and maybe a concha ice cream sandwich.
Taco Fish is my favorite hidden gem spot in Tucson, because it has delicious Hermosillo-style mariscos with Sonoran specialties like cahuamanta. If it's your first time, you've gotta get the Taco Gordo with a bit of everything: fried fish, shrimp and shredded red marlin. Ask for a bichi on the side!
The one, the only ... BK Tacos is known for its bacon-wrapped Sonoran dogs. But they also have the best tacos de cabeza I've ever eaten.
The southside restaurant with a James Beard Award. Life is funny sometimes, especially when you're eating a crispy taco lorenza. Just do it, it's good!
Fourth Avenue/Downtown area
You don't have to go to the south or west sides to find excellent Mexican food. Just make your way down Fourth Avenue and you'll find everything from Central Mexican vegetarian fare to beefy carne asada tacos from Sonora's capital of Hermosillo. Then head downtown to Street Taco for some carnitas and a margarita!
This eclectic Fourth Avenue restaurant La Indita is a little bit Arizona and a little bit Central Mexican. Their Tarascan tacos are almost like empanadas, stuffed with spinach and nuts or any variety of meats.
A specialty of Hermosillo, the percheron tacos at this food stand took the #1 spot in my 100 Days of Tacos project back in 2015. (They have since changed their name and opened a second location on Fourth Avenue.) Are they the best tacos in Tucson? Not saying no here!
Taqueria El Semental, northwest corner of Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street, phone: 520-312-1441
A legit Sonoran taco truck right on Fourth Avenue, yay Tucson! Everything at El Semental is good, but we recommend La Morenita taco with adobada and guacamole.
This downtown taqueria has a Chipotle-esque assembly line approach, but Street Taco also has some incredibly juicy pork carnitas. Get your taco street style rather than gringo style.
South Tucson and surrounding area
This route weaves between the two main corridors of southside Mexican food, South Fourth and South Sixth Avenues. On South Sixth, you'll find smaller taquerias and food trucks like the mariscos spot Cocteleria la Palma. And on South Fourth, you'll find family-owned Mexican restaurants serving the traditional dishes that Arizonans grew up on.
This new taco stand is owned by the people at Ruiz hot dogs next door. Their chipilones tacos are a cross between a carne asada and a cheesy caramelo. They are stupidly yummy.
Their shrimp taco quesadilla was so good that I cried in my car afterward. That is all you need to know about this mariscos spot.
The name of this place makes me laugh every time I hear it. Pinches is a new business inside of the bustling food hall American Eat Co. Get their fried taco dillers, if you can say it with a straight face.
No taco tour is complete without a stop at one of South Fourth Avenue's traditional Mexican restaurants. I enjoy going to Crossroads because it has a funky atmosphere and some great fried potato Azteca tacos. Also, pitchers of margaritas.
Last but not least! Please go to Pico de Gallo and get every taco you can stomach, all on the freshly-made corn tortillas. I have eaten here on Christmas, and it did not disappoint.
Sonoran Restaurant Week 2019
Enjoy incredible 3-course meals from a variety of local participating restaurants at special $25 and $35 pricing during Sonoran Restaurant Week, Sept. 6-15. What’s even better? Your participation helps support the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, providing food assistance to thousands of your neighbors across the region. Get a list of the participating restaurants' and menus here.