After getting our fill on South Lamar, we moved downtown to West Sixth Street to search out some more food carts. Our primary stop was The Peached Tortilla (which labels itself “Austin’s Fusion Taco Truck”), which sports a very expansive menu of tacos, primarily using Asian-inspired dishes and ingredients. Highlights include pad thai, banh mi, chicken satay, catfish, szechuan veggies, and more, as well as a healthy assortment of sliders (including crab cakes!).
One of the things I always enjoyed about the Phoenix area was the vast array of businesses that cater to the Mexican population. Unlike most places I’ve lived, it’s relatively easy to go out and get some fresh masa, a wide variety of chile peppers, tamales, and the like, with most neighborhoods having either a grocery store that caters to the Mexican market, or at least does a good job of carrying Mexican staples and tortillas from some local bakery. However, on my last trip through Mesa, Arizona, I noticed that Ranch Market, the long-time Phoenix Mexican-themed supermarket, had now opened a location in Mesa, so I decided to go in and check it out, since I hadn’t been to Ranch Market in a while.
It’s time to talk about the other great joy of going to Yuma. No, I’m not talking about the green chile burgers at the Yuma Proving Ground bowling alley (although they do make a pretty good burger). I’m talking about the variety of taco stands that can be found all over Yuma. Around 5-6 pm every day, all sorts of sleepy little stands all over town (but centralized on West 8th, aka Calle Ocho) fire up their grills and start mixing up fresh jamaicas and horchata. Yes, to me, that is the real Yuma culinary experience, eating tacos from all manner of little trucks, stands, and tents located on vacant lots and parking lots.
Yuma has always been an interesting place to me. In some ways, it captures a lot of what I remember about the Phoenix area of my youth, with funky neon motor lodges and adobe-style buildings. Meanwhile, the town is so close to the border that it’s unabashedly Mexican in flavor. Businesses gleefully advertise in Spanish, and little mom-and-pop grocery stores proudly stock masa, beef tongue, and a variety of hot peppers, knowing that their clientele will be buying and using such items. Unfortunately, the busy part of Yuma is the “New Yuma”, centered along Highway 95 and I-8 Business Loop, which is mostly newer fast food chains (although they at least have some of the better fast food chains, like In-N-Out, Del Taco, and El Pollo Loco, in addition to the ubiquitous McDonalds), chain restaurants, and big box stores. There’s nary a taqueria, taco truck, burrito joint, or Spanish meat market to be found near most of the hotels and motels, and if there’s a Mexican restaurant, it’s heavily Tex-Mex influenced. Luckily, for those willing to go explore off of the I-8 Business loop, there’s plenty of real Mexican fare to be found in Yuma…
Lancaster is filled with little Mexican mom and pop places, and something about Taqueria Pepe El Toro jumped out at me when I was grabbing some items at the Home Depot across the way. So I decided to check it out. First thing I saw on the menu was Tacos Al Pastor. I always love Tacos Al Pastor. It’s my favorite type of taco, with nice seared bit of seasoned pork. Taqueria Pepe el Toro did not disappoint, these tacos were quite good, and both of the sides (rice and beans) were good quality as well.
As part of my job, I had to spend a whole week in the Yuma, AZ area. One of the brighter spots of Yuma is that it’s one of the best places to get good authentic Mexican food (without the usual Tex Mex or New Mexico influences, which are good in their own right, but not true Mexican Food). I’ve known several good places in Yuma (including Mi Rancho, which has been around forever), and several good taco stands, but I wanted to see what the best Mexican food out there was. Consulting several online sources (Chowhound, FindItinYuma, and several blogs), there was quite a consensus that Los Manjares was the place to try first.