By Teresa Bitler
From ground beef to creative offerings like eggs and nopales, Chandler has some of the tastiest tacos you’ll ever bite into. Satisfy your cravings at one of these eight restaurants.
Don’t let the simple décor and strip mall location fool you; family-owned Tacos Chiwas prepares some of the best tacos you’ll find anywhere. You can’t go wrong with the straightforward asada, pastor, carnitas, barbacoa or pollo tacos, all served in handmade corn tortillas. But for a delicious change of pace, try the Tacos Chiwas taco, made with beef and ham, or the calabacitas taco, filled with Mexican squash, corn, white onion and cheese.
Feeling adventurous? Tacos Chiwas also has lengua (beef tongue) and tripas (beef tripe) tacos that you can garnish with condiments from the salsa bar. Supplement your tacos with quesadillas, gorditas and burritos.
Map: 2160 N. Alma School Rd.
Espo’s Mexican Food
For flavorful, no-frills tacos, head to Espo’s Mexican Food. The family-run restaurant serves ground beef, machaca beef and shredded chicken in your choice of crispy or soft corn tortillas, as well as carne asada and carnitas wrapped in a soft corn tortilla. Make your selection a plate with rice and beans for just a few dollars more.
Or come on Taco Tuesdays when street tacos are $1.50 each or three plus a soda for $5. Wash your meal down with buckets of beer or $2 margaritas as you eat under the stars on the patio.
Map: 3867 W. Chandler Blvd.
Maskadore’s Taco Shop
Decorated with lucha libre masks, Maskadore’s Taco Shop adopts the Chipotle model, assembling fresh tacos, burritos and bowls at the counter as you order. Start by selecting the tacos you want: street, hard shell, flour, rolled or the quesadilla-inspired tacodilla. Then choose a regular meat such as asada, barbacoa, chicken or carnitas, or for $2 more, opt for shrimp or fish.
As you move through the line, you’ll be able to adjust the heat level—Maskadore’s knows how to spice it up to authentic Mexican levels—and pick your toppings. Order a beer, Mexican soda or horchata to round out your meal.
Ghett Yo' Taco
Located in downtown Chandler, this bright taqueria celebrates the street taco with a lineup of your favorites: pollo asado, pollo verde, carne asada, barbacoa, al pastor, carnitas and pescado (fish). But, Ghett Yo' Taco goes one step further with unique offerings like the huevos y nopales taco filled with egg and cactus. There’s also a fried guacamole taco featuring a beer-battered avocado for vegetarians.
Take advantage of Chandler’s 330-plus days of sunshine by dining on the patio with a cold beer or a pitcher of margaritas. You can also check out games like Jenga from the bar if you decide on another round.
Map: 241 S. Oregon St.
El Sol Mexican Café & Bakery
A Chandler favorite since 1988, El Sol Mexican Café & Bakery serves burritos, tortas, quesadillas, pastries and, of course, tacos. The tacos come wrapped in fresh, made-by-hand soft or fried tortillas and can be filled with a variety of toppings including shredded beef, carnitas and pollo asada. If you’re having a hard time deciding what to order, several of the combo platters include tacos plus rice and beans.
Save room for dessert, though. El Sol makes Mexican sweets, like fruit-filled empanadas and traditional wedding cookies, fresh daily. You can also purchase tortillas and chips to go.
Map: 760 N. Arizona Ave.
Taqueria Mi Casita
This casual eatery serves authentic Mexican fare at budget-friendly prices. You pick the meat: chicken, carne asada, pastor, carnitas, shredded beef, chorizo or tilapia. Or for real south-of-the-border flavor, go with lengua (tongue) or buche (pork stomach). Your selection is topped with fresh cilantro, onion and housemade salsa, but guacamole, sour cream, cheese, pico de gallo, radishes or fried chiles are available on request.
In addition to tacos, Taqueria Mi Casita serves burros, enchiladas, tortas, quesadillas and tostadas, as well as menudo on Saturday and Sunday. For dessert, order a wedge of the pie-sized flan made from Grandma’s recipe.
Map: 2050 N. Alma School Road
Armed with his mother’s Sonoran-style recipes, Elmer Cuen opened his namesake restaurant in 1974. It’s still going strong today, thanks in large part to its tacos. Try the chicken, beef or potato tacos served in a crisped shell. You can also order fish, carne asada, pastor and machaca tacos. Especially hungry? The No. 2 and No. 3 dinner plates feature tacos, rice and beans.
Besides tacos, you’ll find burros, flautas, taquitos, tostadas, burgers and Indian fry bread on the menu. Elmer’s is also known for its chili cone, a tortilla fried in the shape of a cone and filled with mild red chili, spicy green chili or machaca.
Map: 355 N. Arizona Ave.
Juan Jaime’s Tacos and Tequila
Inspired by the tacos sold from carts in Mexico, Juan Jaime’s Tacos and Tequila marinates their meats in a rub made from chiles, garlic, cumin, oregano, salt and citrus for authentic flavor and dresses them with fresh cilantro, onion and cheese. Popular taco fillings include grilled steak, mahi mahi, carnitas, sautéed shrimp and black beans. Add some heat with the made-in-house salsa ranging from mild to hot.
Tacos are just part of what makes Juan Jaime’s great, though. Its bar features premium tequilas, perfectly-blended margaritas and other tequila-based cocktails in addition to draft beer, bottled beer, wine by the glass and champagne.
Map: 2510 W. Chandler Blvd.