In Me Time, Travel/Arizona

In a town with no shortage of great tacos, finding one that stands out in a sea of tortilla deliciousness is a true miracle. Tacos are a gift from the Mexican food gods, and let’s face it even when they’re bad, they’re still pretty dang good.

That is the miraculous beauty of tacos and miracles are happening at Phoenix gem, Taco Guild. Occupying what used to be an old church, guests can nosh on chips and a trio of hot sauces while taking in the rich history – it’s everywhere. Some of the old church’s wooden pews serve as seating, stunning stained glass windows provide intrigue and atmosphere, and contents of time capsules are archived and framed on the walls. It’s all very breathtaking but the holy grail of tacos are what diners come to worship at this local icon.

Taco Guild’s menu offers a few amped up “traditional” offerings as well as some innovative takes. I suggest you walk the adventurous side and choose the more eccentric tacos, they are well worth the leap.

I love the Cherry Chipotle Steak, with crispy fried poblano straws, bleu cheese crumbles and a tangy chile aioli. The combination of robust flavors play nicely and you’ll want to order a few more, and I suggest you do! And order the Peking Duck while you’re at it, it’s my favorite taco on the menu and one bite in you’ll know exactly why. Tender pieces of succulent, tender duck are swathed in a tangy sweet plum sauce and topped with a zesty apricot jalapeño compote. It’s a profile of sweet, meaty and heat that’s further adorned with a piece of crispy fried brie cheese. Sound unusual? It is, but in the best, most delicious way. There is no other taco on the planet like it!

As, expected, all of the tacos at Taco Guild have merit, you can’t go wrong with the likes of Urban Bean Coffee Braised Beef, Pork Adovada, and Guild Chicken. None will disappoint.

A tacos best friend is a margarita and you’ll find some rather tasty ones here, along with a couple other tequila cocktails, tequila flights, beers, wine, etc! I suggest you wet your whistle with the signature 1893 marg or a refreshingly tart and potent Weekender.

At the urging of our server I also ordered the Grilled Romaine Salad, which might seem like a mortal sin when you are at a place called Taco Guild, but it’s a culinary revelation of Biblical proportions. This salad took my breath away when it arrived at our table it was huge and it smelled deliciously like a camp fire. What must have been two large heads of romaine are split and brushed with olive oil before hitting the grill. They are then plated and piled with bleu cheese crumbles, grape tomato-basil concasse, jalapeño bacon bits and a creamy cilantro dressing. I heard angels sing with every bite, which in fact was my taste buds singing with all that was going on. The grilled taste made you forget you were eating lettuce, every meaty bite was reminiscent of a perfectly charred steak or burger, the substantial toppings danced in harmony with the creamy funk of the bleu cheese, the smoky, salty kick of spicy bacon, the fresh herbaceous dressing. The Grilled Romaine Salad at Taco Guild is, without question, the BEST salad in town.

Other not-to-be-missed menu items include the Queso Fundido, an excellent cheese dip blended with chorizo and mushrooms, served with warm, house-made corn tortillas; the street corn which is a great accompaniment to a taco plate; and the coconut cream pie, with a flaky pastry crust and a rich, not-to-sweet but perfectly decadent coconut custard filling. All are pretty exceptional and definitely worth the splurge!

One of the nights I visited Taco Guild they were hosting a viewing party for their segment on the Travel Channel’s Food Paradise. The place was packed with regulars cheering on their favorite local taco joint. In attendance was founding chef, Leo Madrigal and his family. It was an honor to eat his creations while watching him on TV, describing and making his dishes for the camera with love and passion in his eyes. He and his family beamed with pride at the recognition they received and by the crowd who showed up to watch that moment of once-in-a-lifetime glory with him.

A visit to Taco Guild is truly an experience, the food will not disappoint and you’re surroundings will wow you. I suggest going at a non-peak time so you can take a few minutes to walk around and take in the history, there is much to see. Then sit down and linger, taking in the divine found tucked into tortillas and adorning the walls at Taco Guild.

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