Phoenix by Food: Taco Tour

Y’all, tacos might as well be my love language. If something is wrong in my world, tacos can make it right again. I could eat tacos probably every day for a year and never get bored; there are so many delicious, different kinds!! I seriously love tacos. This should help you understand my joy when a long-time friend of mine said he would take me on a taco tour when I was in Phoenix for a conference this month. Hallelujah and pass the salsa! I was curious to find out if and how tacos would be different in Phoenix than in south-central TX, given the influences of different parts of Mexico and New Mexico. Investigation in the name of food and bringing you all gems of the taco scene in Phoenix? Well, don’t mind if I do!

The first place we went was actually on a PBS show called “Check, Please!” so we were excited to explore a restaurant that had been on television.
Courtesy of Erin, one of my Phoenix friends, here is the clip from Arizona’s “Check Please!” so you can see a little more about the restaurant if you wish. Las Glorias is primarily a seafood restaurant, and does look a little bit like a hole in the wall. In case you aren’t hip to this piece of information, let me tell you that being a hole in the wall usually bodes very well in the Mexican-food world. Get in there and get you some! Las Glorias takes their seafood atmosphere quite seriously with blue walls and ocean decor everywhere. We got to sit in front of the faux waterfall, which was lovely.
There weren’t many tacos on the menu, honestly. However, it was an extensive menu of many tasty-looking seafood options. My girlfriend, Stacey, and I decided to split the fish taco plate that came with rice, beans, and three tacos, and I got an additional ceviche tostada.

The food came out pretty quickly, and it all looked so good. My mixed seafood ceviche tostada was a crisp corn tortilla with a huge mound of mixed seafood with sliced avocado on top.

Seafood goodness

It was sitting in a pool of tomato/seafood water which made me think my tostada would get soggy; however, it did not. Perhaps it didn’t have time because I ate it so quickly, or maybe it was just that crispy. Either way, it stayed crispy all the way to the end. The seafood was fresh and the mix was quite the variety. When I shared a chip-full with Stacey, I noticed some fish, shrimp, and octopus on there. Well done, Las Glorias. At the same time, the fish taco was unlike any fish taco I have ever eaten. I assume that most of you pictured a battered piece of fish with some coleslaw on top when I said we ordered fish tacos. Well, friends, please take a gander at the inside of our fish tacos.

Our three fish taco plate

The inside of our fish taco

Yep. Isn’t that something different? I was certainly surprised when they came out. The tacos were still good and had quite a pleasant fish flavor, but the vegetable flavor was also fairly strong for my taste, at least for a fish taco. There is something about having an expectation that just isn’t quite met, you know? I appreciate that my fish taco horizon has been expanded, but ultimately I think I still prefer the traditional battered fish with coleslaw. I might experiment with making my own tacos in their style sometime to see if it grows on me. I’ll keep y’all posted.

The second place we went to, that we ended up visiting a second time, was most amazing. Friends, Gallo Blanco Cafe & Bar has a happy hour that includes tacos. A taco happy hour!?!? I was meant to eat at this place! Gallo Blanco is a cute restaurant attached to the most delightful retro hotel just a touch off the beaten path. Along with drink specials, their tacos along with a few other appetizers have a discounted price from 3 – 6 every day. Yes, dear friends, EVERY DAY. Well, there is one exception. This fabulous deal takes place all day long on Tuesday. It’s probably best that I don’t live in Phoenix, or I might never eat anywhere else. When we went on Sunday, I got a cochinita (pork) taco and a carne asada (beef) taco.

My two tacos plus Stacey's

Their tacos are known as “street tacos” so they are smaller than you might typically see. Everyone else in my group got the shrimp tacos and could not stop ooohh-ing and aaahh-ing over their tacos. Mine were very tasty, but I must admit, I was a little curious what all the fuss was about. Stacey also ordered the elote callejero or grilled corn with cotija cheese. Thankfully, she was kind enough to share three or four bites with me. “Mmm-mmm, good” is all there is to say about that!

Ridiculously good corn

It wasn’t even two hours after my Phoenix friends dropped us off at our hotel that I got a text that said, “Do you have dinner plans tomorrow night? We want to go back to Gallo Blanco.” Hilarious! I had just made dinner plans, however, so we made plans to go Wednesday night after our official business was over. Upon our return to Gallo Blanco, I surely did order some shrimp tacos and my own elote, stat!

We ordered so many tacos that night.

Oh my word, that corn came out so warm from the grill that the cotija cheese was melty-soft on the corn, with a touch of paprika and a little smoky flavor. Thank goodness, we all had our own ears this time around because nobody was in the mood for sharing. It was crazy good. And those shrimp tacos?? My tacos on Sunday were good, y’all, but these shrimp tacos were out of this world. They tasted like a summer afternoon out by the pool with the grill fired up on the porch. Smoky, fresh, flavorful, just a little spicy with a touch of guacamole to cool it all down.

Shrimp taco from the inside

Speaking of their guacamole, we also tried some because it was on happy-hour special. If you have been following my blog for a while, you may remember my adventures with goldamole in Philadelphia last year. This one was priced as guacamole should be, friends. 🙂 It was not quite your run of the mill average guacamole, either. It was a citrus guacamole with pieces of what I believe were either tangerines or clementines (based on size) mixed in, and covered in cotija cheese. Gallo Blanco sure does love the cotija cheese!
I quite enjoyed the guacamole. To wash everything down, I enjoyed one of their happy hour beverages, the El Julio. You can check out the menu to see what is in an El Julio, but let me tell you it tastes sort of like a Lime Julius might taste. Do you all remember the drink Orange Julius? Well, this is what I think the lime version would taste like. It was frothy and a little creamy tasting without any cream in it, and limey without being sour. Muy delicioso!

While my Phoenix Taco Tour ended up only being two places, I deem it a success! We ate at a place that has been on television and found a taco happy hour good enough to visit twice in four days. If I’m ever back in Phoenix, and I hope to be some day, I’m totally going back to Gallo Blanco. Please trust me on this one. If you find yourself in Phoenix between 3 and 6 on any given day, you should make haste to 401 W. Clarendon. I promise you won’t be sorry. Order a shrimp taco, elote callejero, and an El Julio and be a happy camper. After that, feel free to order whatever else you like because you just can’t go wrong. Up next are all the other tasty eats I had during the rest of my trip. Stay tuned and happy eating!

Happy Taco Eaters!

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Jalapeño Bacon Deviled Eggs

I am so excited to share these deviled eggs with y’all! Right before New Year’s Eve, I got a hankerin’ for deviled eggs, pretty much out of nowhere. I’m okay with the regular deviled eggs we’ve all seen at potlucks and parties, but my taste buds really wanted more. Somehow I got the idea to put jalapeños in the mix. Then I thought to myself, “I bet bacon would be delicious with eggs and jalapeños!” A quick Google search showed some recipes with jalapeños, but not too many with bacon. I can fix that! My friends, pull up a chair to my table and bring your deviled egg appetite as I share this most delicious recipe with you. They are freakishly tasty so get to making them soon; I promise you’ll be glad you did!

Jalapeño Bacon Deviled Eggs (inspired by this Southern blogger)

Ingredients
6 hard-boiled eggs
2.5 tablespoons good-quality mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1.5 tablespoon diced pickled jalapeños
4 slices cooked bacon – crumbled (6 if you want to garnish with bacon as well)
pinch of salt
Cilantro – for garnish

Steps
1. Cut your eggs in half lengthwise, and scoop out the yolks into a bowl. Place whites onto a plate.
2. In your bowl with the yolks, add the mayonnaise, mustard, cumin, diced jalapeños, and crumbled bacon.

3. Using a fork, mash and mix until everything is well incorporated. I did have to switch to a spoon at the very end to get a smoother consistency.
4. Taste and see if it needs a little salt, more cumin, or more heat. If it needs more heat, you could use some juice from the pickled jalapeños. Adjust seasonings as needed.
5. Using a spoon, carefully scoop a large dollop of the mixture back into the egg whites. You’ll have plenty to make a nice mounded top as you’ve just increased the volume of the yolks quite a bit.
6. Garnish with a piece of crumbled bacon if you want additional bacon. (And who doesn’t?)

mmm...bacon

7. If you want to garnish with cilantro, give it a rough chop and sprinkle on top. You could alternatively combine it into the yolk mixture as well.

I’ve made these twice now, and with the exception of folks who don’t like cumin or deviled eggs in general, everyone has been in LOVE with them. They’ve gone like the proverbial hotcakes. I seriously wish I had a reason to make deviled eggs all the time so I could eat them all the time. Maybe that wouldn’t be a healthy or balanced choice, but my taste buds don’t care. If you have friends who are finicky about spice or cumin, you could certainly adjust those amounts. I did that when I made them recently for my friend who doesn’t like spicy foods. I went with just a tablespoon of jalapeños, but even he said he would have been okay with more. So far, every time I’ve made them, I’ve been with my friends who are anti-cilantro so I have yet to mix in the cilantro, but I am keeping my eye out for the opportunity to do so. To date, it’s just been a garnish on top which is still delicious.

More jalapeños, please!?

Here is how I boil my eggs, in case you are on the prowl for the best way to boil eggs. I used to try out a variety of different methods, but finally settled on this method that I now use faithfully. Here goes. It’s quite simple.
1. Put your eggs in a pan, cover them with cold water, put a lid on the pan, and put on the stove.
2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. I use 6 or 7 out of a 10 dial.
3. As soon as it comes to a boil, remove from heat, and let sit in the hot water for 10 minutes.
4. At the end of 10 minutes, drain off the hot water, and rinse with cold water. I let them sit in cold water, even adding ice to help cool them down and prevent carry-over cooking.


If you wanted your yolks less done, you could and should cook them for less time. Here is a site with a guide on cooking times. However, I have not yet done this. I will soon though, as I plan to make Scotch eggs which call for boiling the eggs, wrapping them in sausage, and then either baking or frying them. Are you drooling yet? Maybe the sausage wrapping keeps them from overcooking in the second round of cooking, but I think I’ll probably medium-boil the eggs in case they cook a little more in the oven. And if they don’t, there is nothing wrong with a slightly runny yolk in my book. I’ll keep y’all posted on how those gems turn out.

Peeling hard-boiled eggs can be tricky. Over the years of trial and error, of experimenting with crazy things like vinegar in the water, blowing in the egg shell (oh, yes I did!), and other craziness, here is what I have determined. Older eggs peel better. If you buy eggs at the store, boil them up them up in the next few days, and go to peel them, you may want to commit eggicide. The egg will stick to the shell as you peel, causing bits and pieces of the egg to break off, leaving you with an egg that is pockmarked like the face of an unfortunate, acne-scarred teen. If you wait a week or so, the story will turn out differently. Start at the large end of the egg because there will likely be a pocket of air, with potentially a little bit of liquid. This will help you get a good start on the peeling. Peel carefully, but nearly every time the shell will just come right off in one or two large pieces. You may feel the heavens open up and egg-peeling angels sing. I understand this feeling. 🙂 My current exception to this rule seems to be eggs from the farmer’s market.

Recently, I was persuaded to purchase my eggs from one of our local farmer’s markets. To be honest, it took a little bit of talking myself into it because eggs at my grocery cost me about $1.27. These eggs cost me $4. You are a smart cookie and can do the math your ownself to see the difference in cost. However, research had told me that this was a good price for farm eggs in the Austin market and that cage-free eggs from Kansas at HEB (my local grocery store) would run me about $4.25. My father had heart failure upon learning that I paid $4 for my eggs. He is a fortunate enough soul to have a farmer hook-up and only pays $2 a dozen. I won’t tell you where he lives so you can’t picket his home. May we all be so lucky one day. Anyway. I committed the cardinal egg-boiling sin of buying my farm eggs the day prior to making my deviled eggs. I just wasn’t thinking, to be honest. When I realized my mistake, there was nothing to be done, but proceed. When I started peeling, I was so astonished!! These did not peel like store eggs at all! My first egg peeled like it was touched by the peeler gods or something. A few of the eggs did have the bits and pieces problem, but not at all like newly-bought store-bought eggs do. It was simply amazing. I’m not certain yet why there is this difference, but if you know, tell me! Thanks!

The two that gave me trouble.

If you are experimenting with boiling your eggs, or as some websites like to call it – hard-cooking, if you get egg yolks that have a silver or green ring around the yolk, that is typically an indicator you’ve overcooked them. My sister-in-law told me once that the texture of the yolk also was an indicator. If it’s tough or rubbery, then it might be overcooked. However, I’ve also heard that to be an indicator of age, so I’m less sure on what that means. Also, if you boil up a bunch of eggs, but then forget which eggs in the fridge are boiled and which are raw, just give them a spin on the counter. A cooked egg will spin faster and more immediately than a raw egg. Here is a video that will show you. Watch out for the hammer at the end!

I hope you have an opportunity to make these deviled eggs soon. You and your friends will VERY happy! The last time I made them, my boyfriend informed me that we were going to have to start doubling the recipe. That’s a lot of eggs, y’all, but it’s worth it. Happy eating!

Nutritional Information – 1 deviled egg half, including bacon garnish      
Calories: 77
Fat: 6.5 g
Protein: 4.3 g
Potassium: 51.4 mg
Vitamin A: 2.9%