Top 10 Worst Mexican Restaurants in Metro Phoenix

mexican american food- flickr- ireither.jpg
Flickr- ireither
Mexican American ain't all bad, but it is at these joints.
mexicandressup2.jpg
The whitest taco in existence.

In the Valley there's amazing Mexican food from the mom 'n' pop hole-in-the-wall to blow-your-mind haute cuisine, Mexican-style. You would think that with such a wealth of delicious and accessible Mexican food on every corner, there would be no need for a "Worst Of..." list. You would be wrong.

Also check out Laurie Notaro's response to our list.

What follows is a list of the ten worst places we have ever eaten "Mexican" food. Learn from our mistakes, and avoid these bland, Meximerican monstrosities that have the gall to call themselves Mexican restaurants. (You'll note that Filibertos and Taco Bell did not make the cut, because as much as it shames us to admit it, such fast food joints have their time and place. And that time and place is last call on a Saturday night.)

10. Julio G's
If neon lights and faux '50s flair could compensate for flavor, Julio G's would be the Mexican food king. Because that's really all this place has going for it. The menu is ridiculously expensive for such standard deep-fried Meximerican fare, smothered in melted cheese and regret. We'll put it another way: if we found ourselves at Julio G's, we would order the cheeseburger before anything else on the menu.

9. El Portal Mexican Grill
El Portal in downtown Phoenix (specifically, in the bottom of the Cronkite School building) must be banking on the fact that a hungry college student will eat almost anything. Perhaps most students don't care so long as the tacos are at least a little crunchy, the shredded meat inside reminds them of chicken, there's a hint of yellow-ish or orange "cheese," and a smattering of tomato bits to make it a "healthy" lunch choice. El Portal's food isn't so much bad as it is bland, and the presentation is sloppy right down to the loosely rolled burritos on the verge of flopping apart. The colors of the beans, vegetables, and meats are all muted like bad cafeteria food, and they'll take any chance they can to top your meal with a combination of cheese, grease, and more grease. Mexican food could be worse. Unpleasant flavors would certainly be worse than no flavor at all.

tee pee- flickr- lisacollenlee.jpg
Flickr- lisacollenlee
Offensive stereotypes notwithstanding, Tee Pee Mexican Food is best viewed from outside.
PatioChimiMiPatio.jpg
Sad chimi.
8. Jordan's Mexican Food
Jordan's has been around since the '50s, and the décor and menu reflect that step back in time to when Mexican food had to be dumbed down for the gringo palate. With one foot in Jordan's, it's evident that business is suffering and the entire joint is several decades behind the times. The building boasts three separate dining areas as if waiting for a hundred people to descend, despite never being close to half-full. The salsa tastes like ketchup, and every dish is smothered in what seems to be the same bland-tasting sauce and cheap processed cheese. There's nothing authentic or delicious on the menu here, unless you too are nostaligic for the mid-century modern cooking of the '50s and '60s. (Tomato aspic, anyone?)

7. Tee Pee Mexican Food
Provided your idea of Mexican food is under-seasoned ground beef tacos tossed in a preformed taco shell, just like the Ortega supermarket meal kit, you'll love Tee Pee's Mexican food! If you're looking for a place to bring Aunt Irene from the Great White North, where everything is smothered in cheese instead of flavor, you'll love Tee Pee's Mexican food! If your idea of salsa is closer to tomato sauce (hold the chiles), or if you have ever seen someone mix cottage cheese or sour cream into their "guacamole," you'll love Tee Pee's Mexican food! Seriously. Unless you're from the Midwest and have never pronounced the double "ll" in quesadilla correctly, or if you've reached an age of seniority where you don't have sensation in most of your taste buds, avoid Tee Pee. It had its time and place, and that was several decades ago.


Location Info

Julio G's Mexican Restaurant

12631 N. Tatum Blvd., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Jordan's Mexican Food

6247 N. 7th St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Tee Pee Mexican Food

4144 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Restaurant Mexico

423 S. Mill Ave., Tempe, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Pancho's Mexican Buffet - CLOSED

1003 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Blue Adobe Grille

10885 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ

Category: Music

San Felipe's Cantina

2000 E. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Macayo's Mexican Kitchen

4001 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Sandbar Mexican Grill - CLOSED

10050 N. Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ

Category: Music

Flicka's Baja Cantina

2003 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, AZ

Category: Music

Chronic Cantina - CLOSED

15 E. 6th St., Tempe, AZ

Category: Music

Dos Gringos Scottsdale

4209 N. Craftsman Court, Scottsdale, AZ

Category: Music


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My Voice Nation Help
154 comments
Will
Will

This chick is clueless about Mexican food and must think Taco Bell rates #1

SATCHMOJAZZ
SATCHMOJAZZ

You must not have any discernable taste buds, my dear!  The Tee Pee Inn has the best Mexican food in the Valley.


Rinse your mouth out, and find another pass time other than bad mouthing restaurants. 

william.novak
william.novak

Oh hooray the New Times trying desperately to be 'edgy' again. What a lame article. 

 

Really Macayo's is the WORST Mexican food in Phoenix? Please get a clue. Is Macayo's award winning cuisine? No, but of the gringo/family style Mexican joints, its easily the best. 

 

And if you read Macayo's "Vote Chimi" site you'd realize you're NOT voting for Macayo's for anything. If you read it you'll notice other eateries are sponsoring it as well. You're voting for the Chimi for AZ State food. 

 

Ug, New Times why do I bother with you. You constantly seem like you're being written by High School Seniors-College Freshman.

Phyllistine
Phyllistine

Does someone serve a GOOD ground beef taco? Tee Pee has shredded beef available; I assume they also offer ground to please some of the customers who prefer it. Yes, I'm a fan of the place, which has a hugely diverse if traditional menu. That just seemed like an odd criticism when no one has a gun to your head making you order a ground beef taco.

No
No

The author is a moron for including Restaurant Mexico.  

cash loans
cash loans

Amazing, when I read the topic the first place that came to my mind was
Macayo's. Ate there a couple times and never enjoyed the meal. We do have a
couple we are friends with who swear Macayo's in the best Mexican food in the
valley. To each his own...
 

where_ever
where_ever

First of all, Julio G's is the bomb. I've lived here 37 years and I know the difference between good and crap Mexican, and my friends, you have not lived until you have partaken of the cheesy heaven that is the Pollo Magnifico. Yeah, it's not particularly authentic, but goddamn is it good. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it. The only reason I don't eat there more often is because it's 20 minutes away.

Secondly, how could any list of the worst Mexican restaurants in the Valley not mention the abomination that is the Top Shelf? I have never had a good meal there, ever, and I once had fish tacos so bad that I just sent them back and declined to get anything else. They did not resemble anything like any fish taco I have ever seen (and I've had the real thing in Baja).I have learned my lesson not to order anything more complicated than a cheese crisp whenever I'm forced to eat there.

Trust
Trust

Jordan's has great food. You ma'am should take your writing hand and never touch pen to paper or post a blog about food again. I've eaten all over the world and in 33the states.
Mexican is my absolute favorite @and i'm considerrd to be very picky with it.
Jordans salsa is simple yes, but delicious. Nowhere else ive found has anything like it...also tgey do have a hot salsa available on request. Do your homework before trashing a longstanding, established place. Everything is not smothered in the same sauce either, what I'd guess is that you notice most people order their burros enchilada style, then yes its smothered...by customer request.

Ill be done now, but could go on quite a bit more, although i doubt anyone will read this much anyhow.

Dedicatedmary
Dedicatedmary

I have picked up a New Times magazine here and there, but nothing has ever grabbed my attention. The company must seek out wannabe writers that have nothing better to do than scratch their balls or pick their thongs out of their asses and write negative reviews about people or different companies around the valley. I can understand if you can not afford people with class or maturity, but maybe your Editor's can actually take a look and actually read these offensive articles before they send it to press. Or just quit while you guys are ahead!!

Leevaxinef
Leevaxinef

Julios gs is for people that appreciate goods mexican food, and is been open for more than 20 years what can that tell you about julios gs........stuped

Travisdoty
Travisdoty

hey new times...giving the blue adobe grill a bad review wouldn`t have anything to do with the fact we opted out of advertising with you would it? i would hate to think you would have written such a scathing review of us if we would have shelled out the thousands of dollars you asked us for. i haven`t looked yet but my guess is that these other top 10 worst spots also told you no. way to wield your mass media might. no wonder nobody takes you seriously.

Mark
Mark

Did you pick the only ten Mexican restaurants that don't want or need to advertise in this local trash newspaper. Maybe someday the New Times will become a respectable news organization, until then local degenerates and pot heads will have something to wipe their asses with.

thebarbecuemast
thebarbecuemast

the best mex is the drive thrus  on 16th st near i 10  rombertos or umbertos where no one speaks english i get a burrito and chile renolls and horchata. when they start giving you an english menu you know the place is no longer real

Concerned Food Fan
Concerned Food Fan

It's funny, because the New Times staffers would *always* make the top 10 for being the worst at what they do..

Brdmsd
Brdmsd

Sorry. You are dead wrong. Have been eating Mexican food in Phoenix since 1960. 
Julio G's and Tee Pee are two of the best around. Obviously others agree. They are always packed at night.

MikeyA
MikeyA

PANCHOS?! I'm never disappointed with Panchos! 

Probably because my expectations are so low. 
You can't beat 20something pounds of rice and beans take out for less than the price of a fast food hamburger.  (i'm exaggerating, i know)
But Panchos always exceeds my expectations, and is a guaranteed "best bang for your buck" type of buffet restaurant, that anyone who is low on cash can appreciate. 

Whatevs
Whatevs

One of the worst ever: Padres.

guest
guest

I agree "On the Border" is WAY over priced and they charge for chips and salsa...and portions SUCK!!!...haven't been there and will only go back to say "hi" to a few employees..

Kathy Monkman
Kathy Monkman

Ok adding Restaurant Mexico to this list confirms one thing to me.  You don't have a clue about authentic Mexican food.  You will get that exact salsa in Mexico, in many states including Jalisco where I lived.  Their food is AUTHENTIC which is what makes it memorable, unique and delicious.  They have the best mole in the Valley on Thursdays only.  Step off Restaurant Mexico or I might have to smack you with a soft tortilla cuz I'm a lover not a fighter.

Felicia Farnsworth
Felicia Farnsworth

And no one mentions Manuel's? Gah, every time I go there the food tastes like re-solidified flavorless baby food. 

Miiiklopez
Miiiklopez

hahhaa! pretty mean but pretty true, we went to  panchos and macayos a lot growing up, their buildings are iconic landmarks to central Phx, id be sad to lose them! hope they shape up! 

LM
LM

While I agree that TeePee food is not for everyone, I totally disagree with the comments made in this article. In my opinion, "The Top 10 Worst Restaurants" isn't great food journalism to begin with. 

Quake 'n' Shake
Quake 'n' Shake

I remember the Julio G's location on Indian School in Scottsdale.  I went there 3 times.  Not once did I receive the dish I ordered when the server brought our food.

John
John

Now we've got a list of Mexican restaurants that refused to advertise with the New Times. This is what happens when you say "no" to their sales drones.

TheCosmicJester
TheCosmicJester

I just thought of the one I think is missing from the list: Old Town Tortilla Factory. It's the very model of a tourist trap restaurant. Go for margaritas and some chips and salsa on the patio with the flaming fountain, then get the hell out of there before the mood to stay for dinner strikes. Back when I worked across the street, I discussed local food with a very distinguished looking older gentleman who had a flawless radio baritone voice. The subject of Old Town Tortilla Factory came up. He intoned so eloquently, "Ah yes, I went there last night. It SUCKED!"

AZDesertGal
AZDesertGal

These restaurants were selected by 1 person, Erica Oniel.  We all have our own opinions and should stick to what we like and not be influenced by what others say.  Not everyones taste is the same.  What I may like possibly someone else does not.  That is what is so great about living in a large city that has a diversity of different types of foods.

AZDesertGal
AZDesertGal

Can't believe someone put Macayos on this list.  It is one of my favorites.  They make the best salsa.  Chunky and I get the mild which is just perfect.  Have been eating there for over 20  years.  I do think that Aunt Chiladas should be on this list.  Tried it a few months ago and gagged on their food.

Kip Dean
Kip Dean

Restaurant Mexico?  The Claire Burro is a 25 year favorite.  Shame on you. Hack

Bearjjhe
Bearjjhe

I think I'm done reading New Times articles in general. They're all negative, pretentious bullshit. Why not write articles that actually promote something positive? One of the many reasons I moved away from the Phoenix area. 

Nez
Nez

I hope your talking about the blue adobe grill in Scottsdale, cause the mesa one is killer. What I can't believe you left off the list was the El charro that sits across from the original blue adobe.

Ashley Oakes
Ashley Oakes

Uhhhh you definitely listed some of my favorite places. Being a native to Arizona people don't get that our style of Mexican food is a little bit more on the bland side.

Jess
Jess

What about Garcia's?  It's like the Applebee's of Mexican food.

Carol
Carol

And where is Arriba's?  The worst mexican food ever.  Should be at the top of the list.

allanbartlett
allanbartlett

golly, gosh, gee-whiz Mark. When my asshole needs wiping I go right to shurff arpaio's tongue. No wants or needs.

JennyC
JennyC

Agreed. Manuel's is WAY worse than Macayo's and not even in the same league as the Tee Pee.

Travisdoty
Travisdoty

since i work at the blue adobe in mesa and i know we just refused to advertise with them and now we are on the top 10 worst mexican food restaurant list i would agree with you.

Hock
Hock

Not be influenced by what other's say?   Why read reviews or talk to friends?  Silly comment.  BTW...Macayo's is just another chain Mexican joint...nothing special at all.

Ddesertdawg
Ddesertdawg

Aunt Chiladas over priced and just blandy awful

Hock
Hock

You can tell the difference between Macayos and Aunt Chiladas?  

Hock
Hock

You disagree, therefore the write needs shame and is a hack?  LOL...hilarious.

vicelord
vicelord

bullshit!

I'm a Phoenix native and agree all of those places are garbage, but they are also only the tip of the iceberg when you start the discussion of crap food.

So basically, Ashley, in your opinion, Phoenicians prefer bland food?

valleycheffor35yrs
valleycheffor35yrs

julio gs was founded by the guy who made garcias famous back in "the day"  Before everyone was a "chef", because they watch food tv! That being said, yes they both suck huevos now!

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