“Why didn’t I purchase tickets online?” The first words uttered out of my mouth when I arrived at the Arizona Taco Festival. I was so close to turning around and going for burgers and beer somewhere after seeing that loooooooong line in the hot sun! After two hours in line convinced by my one of friends, I was able to experience the most delicious tacos in the whole state of Arizona.
I am from the east coast and I grew up eating that store-bought-old-el-paso-stuff (which by the way has nothing to do with the real El Paso cuisine), so this was a real treat. Not to mention, they also had margaritas and a tequila expo (tongue sticking out). We hit the margaritas boothes first, then second, third… It was hard to stay away since they were topping them off with Grand Marnier…lush heaven.
After 3 drinks and smiling from ear to ear, it was time to hit the tacos booths. I didn’t know where to start. They had to be at least more than 40 tacos restaurants represented there. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to try them all, but I was going to fill my tummy with as many as possible.
The first one I tried was a simple pulled pork taco topped off with chimichurri sauce. That was it. Simple and delish. Then I had one of the most amazing concoction of shredded beef, pickled red cabbage and white cheese. Dang! Because you have to throw in the veggie, I went ahead and tried the Chipotle Haze, a mix of lentils, chipotle, golden raisins, soy nuts, sour cream and pickled cabbage.
Back to meat…seasoned steak with chimichurri sauce and a pork taco called Al Pastor (Shepherd Style) : Pork is marinated in a combination of dried chilies, spices and pineapple. In some places, achiote is also added, and then slowly cooked with a gas flame on a vertical rotisserie called a trompo (lit: spinning top), very similar to how shawarma is cooked, with a piece of fresh onion and a pineapple on top. That-right-here-was-the-truth! My belly was already about to explode, but I could not leave without having something fried, and who would have thought they made a deep fried taco! I am not quite sure what the shell was made off, but it had the taste of asian deep fried wontons. Awesome! Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. There were music, people and stuff….
Until next year……