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Tacos Atoyac

Dmnkly | | Aug 6, 2011 03:23 AM

No Tacos Atoyac thread yet? Gotta fix that.

It's gotten some play since emerging, and I know some other folks have mentioned it in other threads, which is great, but these guys need their own thread.

Tacos Atoyac, at Glenale and 18th Ave. is an extremely low-key, very humble and very good Oaxacan taqueria. They're not reinventing the wheel here, but it's nice to get a little change of pace from the Sonoran, the place is dirt cheap and everything is unusually good.

Starting with the obvious, the tacos, they're $1, plain and simple meat, onion, cilantro and all seasoned very, very nicely. Sadly, there's no grill (low-budget startup operation and all), so the carne asada is lacking fire, but the flavor is great, ditto the al pastor though I still cry every time I see it on a menu in a place that doesn't have a trompo. I love the lengua, which is a really succulent, stewed version, and the off-menu Campechano, which cuts a potent (and bright) chorizo with some of the carne asada so it isn't completely overpowering. They do each other well.

Not so much Oaxacan, but they make some *killer* Baja-style fish tacos, with crisp fried swai, shredded cabbage and a seasoned crema. Perfect texture on the fish, both inside and out, and they're a whole $1.50 apiece. It used to be a special but they moved it to the regular menu by popular demand... with good reason.

There are some nice tortas, they'll turn any of the meats into a burrito, and the menu also has a number of Oaxacan items that are somewhat less than typical around these parts. Molotes are little torpedo-shaped masa balls filled with chorizo and potato, fried crispy and topped with pureed black beans, crema, queso fresco and shredded lettuce. They're pretty darn mellow, actually, despite the inclusion of chorizo. Memelitas are another choose-your-meat masa variation, this time fashioned into a sort of half-inch thick cake with raised edges, spread with beans, questo fresco and meat and griddled until crisp on the bottom. There are a couple of other less common items that I haven't had a chance to try yet.

The only downer for me were the tamales, which may have been at least partly a victim of expectations since we were informed they have the masa shipped in weekly from Oaxaca by some friends of one of the owners. Apparently they're not happy with the masa they're finding around here, which I presume must simply be a matter of style, because I have a hard time believing they couldn't find something that suited them. Either way, the fillings... one vegetable, one spicy chicken (kind of tinga-esque, though not exactly) were really nice, but the masa was awfully tough and not very warm. I suspect perhaps they just needed a little more time in the steamer, and would love to hear that they've been better for others.

Also, incredibly friendly folks. Two guys who left the line of corporate restaurants to go make tacos because, y'know, they just love making tacos. Which wouldn't mean much if the stuff weren't great, and it is. I don't mean to oversell it. It's a corner taqueria. But it's a really, really good one and it's especially nice in a town that's so dominated by one style of Mexican food.

Tacos Atoyac
1830 W Glendale Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85015

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