I have been living in the Yuma, Arizona, area now for one year after vacationing here for several years previously. I consider myself no expert on Mexican food, but I do consider myself at least a chowdog for my obsession with food.
First, let me say that there is so much good to excellent Mexican food in the Yuma area that I can imagine no one being disappointed with it. If you are visiting friends here and they recommend a local restaurant that is their favorite, by all means go with them. There are over 40 Mexican restaurants of various sorts here and I have not yet been able to try all of them. So it is with some trepidation that I list my favorite Mexican restaurants:
El Zarape (1905 W 8th St)-This place is almost too good. Its customer base is growing so fast, it is hard for the staff to keep up. This small restaurant features wonderful pollo asado cooked right outside on a huge barbecue. The chicken can be ordered just with tortillas or as part of a dinner plate with rice and beans, and this wonderful chicken is featured in all the chicken dishes prepared here-try the chicken taco salad for example. But everything except the service, which can be very inconsistent, is excellent. The caldo de res is my favorite in town. Their birria is rich with dark brick colored chili broth. And some of their specials (albondigas, chicken machaca burritos, posole) are great whenever available. And their regular Mexican dishes (chile relleno, for example or enchiladas) are also first rate.
La Fonda (1095 S. 3rd Ave.)-One of the oldest restaurants in Yuma and the most Sonoran of all I've been too. Decent albondigas is always available and a cup of it can come with most lunch specials. Good pollo asado, and the grilled tacos (with flour tortilla please) are an incredibly good and different Sonoran treat. What Father Fowler would call Sonoran enchiladas are here called patty enchiladas-their Sonoran enchiladas are just regular enchiladas done with flour tortillas.
Chretin's (485 S 15th Ave.)-The oldest restaurant in Yuma has been serving Mexican food for over 50 years. No longer family owned, the restaurant's new owners do try to keep the same cuisine. Even though it is stuck right in the middle of a poor residential neighborhood, this place has become a gringo favorite, partly for its good margaritas and nachos, and partly because it has been serving good Mexican food for a long long time. While I don't like their green chile (no tomatillo tang), their red chili is a great version of what some would call Texas style chile con carne. Their albondigas is the best in town IMHO.
Tacos Mi Ranchito and Mi Rancho (188 S. 4th Ave./2701 S. 4th Ave.)-These two places are very good and feature the same cuisine. The first, closer to the freeway, is small and funky. The second is newer and fancier. Both have excellent al pastor, succulent and tangy chile verde, and good caldos. In fact, the caldo de pollo on a good day can rival any chicken soup I've ever eaten. Unfortunately, it is not a regular offering.
A few words of warning: This listing of my favorites completely omits all the excellent fast food Mexican spots (Taco Salsa, the Chile Pepper, Mr. G's, to name just a few of the very good ones), doesn't list several good places that I haven't been to often enough to recommend, and mentions El Zacatecano-a hole in the wall where grandma does the cooking, which I just discovered-only in passing.
If there is anyone else out here in Yuma who cares about food, please post because I would love to get somebody else's impressions. I will also try to post about the other food available here, but anyone visiting for a short time should stick to the Mexican food as it is the most distinctive food of the area.