CLEVELAND — Everyone in Arizona knows we have the best tacos. Hands down.
We’re right on the border and benefit from both our location and the talented chefs who combine traditional flavors with something a little more creative.
But — and I can’t believe I’m saying this — I may have found a spot closer to Lake Erie than Lake Mead that can boast of having tacos nearly on Phoenix’s level. And I ain’t mad about it.
After a healthy amount of broadcasting, writing and overall chaos at the Republican National Convention on Monday, Jim Sharpe and I repaired to a local restaurant for a semi-unhealthy meal.
The place in question, Barrio, claimed its tacos “Trumped” the competition. Har har. (By the way, this is a joke I legitimately find funny and chuckled posting this picture).
But being native Arizonans (sort of, in Jim’s case), we had no option but to try them. After all, we live in Phoenix, which should basically be considered the taco mecca of the world.
Plus, who cares about all the insanity at the convention? After all, tacos are way more important than the future nominee and possible president of the United States.
Anyway. We walked in to Barrio and it felt like something along the lines of Joyride. If you haven’t been, it’s open, airy, trendy and good. So. Good.
After grabbing a table, we were given the customary chips and salsa. Fully ready to scoff, I took my first bite and was actually surprised.
The salsa tasted like something we’d get at home. The chips were salty and a little greasy, so perfect.
OK, surely the tacos couldn’t be that good. After filling out a slip of paper that let us choose our shell and fillings — hey, Phoenix spots, get on board with this ASAP — we had our tacos in short order.
My first? Chicken and some other ingredients I’m a little too tired to remember. But tasty would be an apt description.
I went a little overboard on my other taco that had queso, guacamole, Coca-Cola-marinated steak and a slew of other toppings. Even with all that, it was still up there on the ol’ taco list (what, you don’t carry one around?).
But you know, for as good as the tacos were, they lacked something. I associate tacos with a little grittiness — we all know the best taco places are the little, tiny, family-owned spots — that I didn’t get with these. They felt polished, if that doesn’t sound as weird as it feel writing it.
I think Jim put it best: “These aren’t tacos, but they’re damn good.”
So sorry, Cleveland. I’m biased and you gave it a go. Barrio is a solid place I’ll probably eat at a couple more times this week, if they’ll have me back.
But when it comes to the king of tacos, it’s tough to knock Phoenix off its spot at the top.
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