Tacos Chiwas (Mesa, AZ)

About halfway through my visit to the family in Arizona, my parents noted that almost every food outing my brother and I did was Mexican food (the one notable exception was the obligatory trip for chicken shwarma at Haji Baba). This wasn’t by accident; of the many, many global cuisines that one can easily get in London, Mexican food is distinctly not well-represented, so Dan is pretty much always craving Mexican and Mexican-adjacent food on his trips to the United States. And, while the situation is distinctly less dire, while New England doesn’t suffer as badly as “Old England” does, you’ve still got to go our of your way to find good, authentic Mexican food. So yes, a trip to Arizona usually involves more than few trips for breakfast burritos, usually a trip to one of the area’s old-school Mexican places (this time, we did Los Dos Molinos, which I’ve reviewed back in 2012), and a smattering of other local places. This time, we ended up meeting with our old Social Studies teacher for tacos and cocktails at Tacos Chiwas.

While nominally a taco joint, Tacos Chiwas is more specific than that, it’s a Chihuahuan taco joint, focusing on the food styles and preferences of the state of Chihuahua (bordering New Mexico to the South), which focus on tacos, burritos, and gorditas made primarily featuring beef and pork (Chihuahua is landlocked, so you don’t get a lot of seafodd). With the original Tacos Chiwas opening in 2016, they’ve grown into a small area chain with locations in Chandler, Phoenix, and Mesa. We actually visited the last of these in Mesa; Downtown Mesa has had a bit of an economic struggle most of my life, but the addition of Tacos Chiwas has definitely helped spruce up the area (along with a smattering of other recent addition, like nearby breweries Oro and 12 West).

To start, I had one of their house special margaritas, the Jamaica Margarita. I adore the use of hibiscus in Mexican food, adding a nice combination of floral and tart notes, and this was a particularly well-composed margarita, with fresh lime, smooth tequila, and tart jamaica notes.

For my entree, I ended up focusing on those items that are house specials at Tacos Chiwas that I can’t always find at other tacos shops. In this case, a mix of tacos and a gordita. For the tacos, I ended up doing a split of pastor and lengue. The pastor was a nice, tender marinated pork, with good achiote notes. The lengue was nice tender cubes of tongue served up with some pickled onions; I rather liked this combination since it still focuses on the nice, concentrated meatiness of the beef tongue. Both sets of tacos were served up on perfectly-done, double-stacked house-made corn tortillas.

The gordita was a really nice deshebrada roja: beef simmered with spices and red peppers until tender, shredded up and served on a nicely grilled gordita. I always love deshebrada; like it’s dried-meat cousin machaca (which I had had for breakfast a few days before at Salazar Bros), I always love the concentrated flavors and textures of the shredded meat and spice. This was a very bold and flavorful dish, one of the gems of the menu.

Overall, I loved Tacos Chiwas; they’ve added a nice little restaurant as another good reason to visit downtown Mesa. The drinks were good, the tacos and gorditas excellent, and they offer a lot of good Chihuahuan flavors that you aren’t going to find at a lot of other area taco joints. I’ll definitely be coming back.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply