Yuma is full of Mexican restaurants, and even the poorest of them are probably pretty good by the standards of much of the United States. Since moving here seven years ago, I have probably eaten at close to 60 different Mexican establishments. Some of the oldest date back over 50 years, but those "old school" Yuma restaurants and their unique cuisine will be discussed later in a separate post. Similarly, the taco trucks here deserve a separate post as well. Right now, I just want to mention my favorite regular Mexican restaurants, the ones that are part of my regular rotation.
Los Manjares de Pepe’s is my all-around favorite. Located in an old house between Avenue A and Avenue B on 8th St, this place serves a wide range of tasty and reasonably priced dishes. I have explored much of the menu and have yet to taste something that wasn't good. The chicken al carbon is wonderfully tasty as it is cooked outside over charcoal. In addition to chicken plates, that same chicken makes the chicken burritos and chicken taco salad the best in town. Also especially noteworthy are the weekday specials. All are good values and the albondigas (on Monday), the pork in chipotle sauce (Wednesday), and the pozole (Friday) are the best I've ever eaten. The steak ranchero and puerco en tomatillo are good choices too. While there are combination plates, this is a wonderful place to get away from the beaten path. The homemade jamaica is the best in town. If I have any criticism, it would be that the wonderfully flavorful salsa is a bit runny.
Mi Rancho is the largest Mexican restaurant in town, located on 4th Ave near 27th. It has a full bar and makes decent margaritas. I also like that it is open until 9:30 in the evening, allowing the late diner to enjoy good food. On the other hand, I find this place a bit hit and miss. My favorite dishes here are the al pastor, the chile rellenos, the fish fillets in garlic butter sauce, the shrimp ranchero, and the chile verde (but avoid it when it is on special).
Borders Café is a small, family run restaurant on 4th Ave between 16th and 14th. Recently taken over by a new family with roots in Cabo, the place offers a distinctive take on Mexican cuisine. The albondigas de res is rich and flavorful, and the albondigas de pescado is an equally flavorful dish I have not seen elsewhere. The fish tacos are wonderfully crunchy and good choice as well. Currently the menu is still being tweaked, but the only thing I've had that has not been good is the guacamole - here it is a runny, industrial tasting sauce that shows few hints of avocado.
El Viejo Loco has perhaps the worst location of any Mexican restaurant in town, tucked in the rear of a building just east of the Mervyn's on 32nd St. In addition, it is not currently open in the evenings, so for me, it is primarily a lunch destination. The fiery salsa here is thick and full of chile flavor and matches well with the excellent chips. I'm also fond of the green sauce, which makes a fine topping for enchiladas or wet burritos. The green and red chilies are both cooked until the meat has shredded and are very tasty. Be sure to ask if spinach is available as the spinach enchiladas or the chicken and spinach burritos are unique and healthier than most Mexican menu choices. If there is any disadvantage to this place, it is that the prices seem a little higher than elsewhere.
Del Sol Market in the strip mall at the corner of 4th Ave and 16th St has a cafeteria that offers some very succulent dishes. For $5.99, one can have one's choice from various stewed meats with rice and beans. Many of the meat choices here are not available elsewhere. Sometimes, there will be pork in black chile sauce, chicken mole, barbacoa, and (usually on Fridays) mantaralla. The vegetable dishes, for example, calabacitos or nopales, are also tasty. Also noteworthy are the homemade agua frescas, like papaya or watermelon (the variety changes by day and season), that are not available anywhere else in town (at least to my knowledge).
El Jarocho is a tiny restaurant stuck in a bad location in the back of a strip mall between 12th and 14th on 4th Ave. Currently, it is not open (the sign says closed “temporarity”) I hope that is just a seasonal adjustment as the food I've had here has been uniformly outstanding and (as far as I can tell) authentic. The lengua in tomato sauce is rich and tender. The shrimp and fish soup is outstanding. In fact, everything I've ordered on their small menu has been good. Let's hope it reopens again in the fall.
Just because a restaurant does not make this list does not mean that it is no good. In addition to the "old school" places and taco trucks (about which I will post later), I have had many other tasty meals at other Mexican restaurants in town. For one reason or another, however, these places are not among my favorites. In addition, while I go to every new Mexican restaurant in town, I may try a place only once or twice, and if I am not delighted with what I have had, I may never return. One of the reasons why I post about the Mexican restaurants in Yuma is so that I can get feedback and perhaps learn about some gems I have overlooked. Please, if you have favorites or if you want to disagree with my choices, post your observations and favorites also.