I was honored to be asked to contribute an essay to Good Birders Still Don't Wear White, a sequel to the popular book by birders about birding. We were asked to write about something we love about birding, and so naturally I wrote about tacos.
The book is about to be released, and features a ton of probably-awesome essays from famous birders and also me. Go pre-order the book here!
In spirit of my epicurean topic, I wanted to update you, good reader, on the near-border delicacies I recently experienced on a birding trip to southeast Arizona. I'll tell you about the birds some other time (we ran the table on some great rarities) and instead focus on that even more elusive target for this Mainer: a good taco. Here's what I had, with grades.
Mango Taco Truck in the Houston Airport
I had a super early morning flight from DC with a layover in Houston. I hadn't eaten anything all day and was rushing to my flight but stopped at this little stand for a chorizo-and-potato (I asked for it without egg) burrito, which was DELICIOUS. I know it's an airport and all, but this thing hit the spot. Chorizo done right is unbeatable. Grade: A.
Filiberto's in Arizona City, AZ
We were super hungry after dashing around Phoenix getting the rental car arranged and then picking up some Rosy-faced Lovebirds. We pulled into Arizona City on our way south to Tucson and snagged some burritos at Filiberto's, which is apparently a chain in the area. They were delicious. The biggest difference in good Mexican food that the crap I'm used to out East is fresh tortillas. Warm and floury and a little stretchy, fresh tortillas make all the difference, and these burritos were perfect. Grade: A
Taqueria Juanitos in Tucson, AZ
Another winner, this time in downtown Tucson. Delicious carne adasa, as I recall. We also loved the sign, which features the mascot of the restaurant, whom we named Mr. TacoFace FaucetPenis.
I mean seriously what is going on down there?
El Charro Tucson in Tucson, AZ
We went one night to this fancier, sit-down place. It's apparently the oldest family-operated Mexican restaurant in the United States, so props to that. They're famous for their carne seca dish, which is beef that's dried on the roof of the restaurant (in summer, at least). We had that, and it was not very good. I gotta be honest. It tasted like beef jerky tacos. Not my favorite. Grade: C.
Adolfo's Taco Shop in Willcox, AZ
Got some food here after a cold, windy couple hours of birding at Lake Cochise. We weren't quite sure what it was, but this place was our favorite food of the whole trip. Great tortillas, perfect burritos. Plus, this painting was on the wall, which I couldn't look away from.
He's looking right into my soul! Grade: A+
El Zarape in Nogales, AZ
We needed to eat so badly after our impromptu all-day 12 mile hike down California Gulch for the Nutting's Flycatcher. This place was listed as the best Mexican food in Nogales. It was just OK, I think. Grade: B+
Nico's Mexican Food in Tucson, AZ
Some final breakfast burritos on our way out of Tucson. These were delicious, but tough to eat as the driver. I should have pulled over. Either way, a great final meal. Until next time, border towns! Grade: A-