Tacos Atoyac - Oaxacan Taqueria

2013 list of restaurants that have captured our love and admiration
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Mike Todd
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6 years ago

Just wanted to get them on the list before the deadline. I'll see if I can squeeze out some actual content this week.

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Sorry for the long delay in getting back to this, but the flu took my brain offline (literally and figuratively) for much of the week. Now that I’ve regained my faculties, I feel like can say a little something about this nominee…

We all look for different things in neighborhood restaurants, and sometimes it’s hard to find something that has even most of the right pieces. Tacos Atoyac, though, is the kind of place that feeds my needs.

Distinctive offerings. When I’m casting about somewhere new to eat, I’m always drawn to places offering items that I’ve never tried or are not found elsewhere. Sure, Tacos Atoyac serves many of the “usual suspects” you see at other Mexican restaurants around town, but as far as tlayudas, memelitas, and molotes are concerned, they are quite possibly the only game in town. To me, the owners’ decision to feature proudly some regional southern Mexican dishes rather than just the standard -berto’s fare was courageous. And smart.

Care and quality. So, yeah, I’m a sucker for novelty, but quality is what keeps me coming back to a place. I haven’t eaten all the way across the menu at Tacos Atoyac, but so far, I’ve yet to hit anything that seemed thoughtless or thrown together. For me, the sublime, delicious fish tacos and outstanding torta milanesa are examples of taking seemingly simple items that many other places can get only almost-right, and making them worth a special trip. It’s not just that the perfectly prepared fish that taco is built around or the inviting meat waiting to be tasted inside the torta, but that each item is a balanced package where all of the parts harmonize to form one delicious whole.

Genuine hospitality. The humble setting (and perhaps even humbler neighborhood) might be off-putting to some, but to me, Tacos Atoyac’s small dining room is downright homey. It’s not just there’s a lack of pretension, but that Dan, always the “face” of the restaurant on my visit, exudes a genuine and palpable air of caring (there’s that word again). When I’m there I feel like he’s not just there to sell me something, but that he’s there to serve me food that we both think is outstanding.

Are there things that I wish were different about Tacos Atoyac? Sure. Sometimes, I’d like to get a beer with my meal or eat outside without facing out onto one of our 7-lane arterial streets. But once the food arrives at the table, I forget about these things and remember why I keep coming back to this humble taco shop.

Tacos Atoyac Discussion Threads:
Tacos Atoyac - Top taco in America?
FISH TACOS
Big 3 (Your Favorites) [Burger, Hot Dog, Taco]

Tacos Atoyac
1830 W. Glendale Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85021
602-864-2746
Last edited by Mike Todd 6 years ago, edited 1 time in total.
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Skillet Doux
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6 years ago

C'mon, man, you still had 26 minutes left when you hit "Submit" :-)

Well, in the meanwhile, I'll pick up the slack a bit. I'm long overdue for a return visit (it's so busy, nobody goes there anymore), but I love this place. The room's kind of sterile -- almost as if they're intentionally trying to generate crossover appeal for the crowd that looks at the typical corner taqueria and thinks, "Ew, dirty" (as I roll my eyes in exasperation) -- but that's so 180 degrees away from how Dan runs the front counter, and how delicious the food is. There's a theme with so many of these nominees, restaurants where the passion is just exploding out of the kitchen, and here you've got two guys who were working in other successful kitchens and left to open this little joint because, man, they really wanted to just make tacos.

Lost in the "best taco" hubbub and ensuing mob scene was the simple fact that this is a kick ass corner taqueria with some unusual offerings run by awesome people. I'm totally on board with naming Tacos Atoyac as Food Nerd Approved, and for anybody who hasn't been or wants to get back, we're headed there for Foodnik Friday this week.
Dominic Armato
Dining Critic
Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
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6 years ago

SO glad you posted this. This was going to be my pick but ended up not having a chance to put it up before this work trip and was. in the middle of a meeting today and had this horrifying realization in my mind that I didn't put up a FNA!

Fully support this nomination and will post more when I'm back in town!
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Lunchbox
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6 years ago

So happy to see them get a nom. This place is a regular lunch spot for me as it's about a mile from my biz partner's house and I often pick it up on my way over there... Don't forget about the onions and peppers in the little baggie (or paper tray if dining in). They are so so so good.
-- LBX

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Mike Todd
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6 years ago

Just bumping the thread to indicate that I finally got around to composing a proper nominating post.
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MyLifeOnVacatio
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6 years ago

I fully support this nomination. Mike hits it right on the head in calling out Taco Atoyac’s distinctive offerings, the care and quality with which they are put together and the genuine hospitality everyone receives when they come in the door. The tacos, tlayuda, memelitas, chicken mole (when available), torta milanesa are just my top 5 (although if I were to be more specific about the variety of tacos, it would end up being a top 10). LBX mentions the grilled onions & peppers, which are not to be missed, and my other favorite accompaniment is the avocado salsa.
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LaPan
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6 years ago

Are you kidding? This place is Da Bomb for all PHX area taco shops. Great food, great prices. Decor… eh…

LOVE IT.
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Skillet Doux
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6 years ago

Welcome to the board, and thanks for weighing in, LaPan!
Dominic Armato
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Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
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Skillet Doux
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6 years ago

Tacos Atoyac has been named to the 2013 Food Nerd Approved list.
Dominic Armato
Dining Critic
Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
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