This article originally appeared in Where GuestBook: Arizona 2017.


Breaking Out of the Shell: No longer just your typical beef and shredded lettuce meal, tacos go rogue.

Tacos have come a long way since American fast food popularized those hard-shelled corn tortillas filled with fried ground meat, some salsa, shredded cheese and a handful of iceberg lettuce. Traditional Mexican street tacos are little bites made for people on the go—soft corn tortillas purchased from a street cart and filled with an amazing variety of flavors.

Today, the taco scene across Arizona is a trend all its own, with chefs taking the traditional Mexican street taco and redefining it. Throw away any ideas you have about what a taco might be or should be, and explore the fusion of flavors wrapped up inside the new world of tacos.

According to David Tyda, co-founder of the annual Arizona Taco Festival (Oct. 21-22, 2017; more than 50 restaurants serving $2 tacos), one of the best tacos in the Valley of the Sun is the Spanish Octopus with charred tomato sauce, served at Tarbell’s Tavern in Phoenix. The octopus is cooked tender and served in a corn tortilla on a bed of shredded cabbage. The charred tomato sauce has a rich cumin spice, giving it that little bit of kick you don’t find in other taco dishes.

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