Don’t get fooled by the size of Taqueria EL Chino restaurant in the heart of Phoenix on 18th Ave. and Van Buren street — this place packs big taste. The owners of Taqueria El Chino, Rafael Ung and his wife Linda Moreno, say there’s no better place for authentic tacos than their two restaurants.
For more than 5 years…loyal customers have been coming this tiny taco shop — that’s a titan of the Phoenix taco scene. Ung says the first question most people ask— is what’s up with the name?
“My Grandfather was actually from China my and my great grandfather. He came to Senora Mexico when they were building the railroads,” said Ung
“My Dad is half and half. That makes me a quarter. We’re pretty much all Mexican it’s just our last named stayed. The Chinese name stayed. So that’s why they called us Los Chinos,” said Ung.
But Ung says if you’re looking for a Mexican-Asian fusion taco shop — you’re in the wrong place. The tacos here are Sonoran style — just like you’ll find in Mexico!
“It’s all Sonoran style tacos. Tacos de lengua, cabeza, cachet, barbacoa — so it’s pretty much all Sonoran style tacos. My brother started this franchise in Hermosillo in 1968. It’s a big long tradition,” said Ung.
So what makes Taqueria El Chino’s meat taste so good? I went into the kitchen to find out. First…Rafael says it’s all about the meat — and it’s high quality —whether it’s his chicken or carne asada. His carne asada tacos are made from real ribeye steaks –cooked on the grill. You’ll also find lengua tacos and some of the best cabeza tacos in Phoenix.
“We’re authentic the tacos cabeza are made from the cabeza. 3;38 You eat a taco in Mexico it’s going to taste the same here,” said Ung.
Customers like Juan Cerna say there’s no better taco in Phoenix. ” It’s great…the taste and everything. It’s taste just like Mexico,” said Cerna.
Taqueria El Chino is also racking up the awards — they’ve been awarded the best burrito title by Phoenix New Times and the best red and green chili burrito by Phoenix Magazine.
There’s also Rafael and Linda’s newest spot called Taqueria El Chino bar and cantina on 711 S. Central Avenue in Phoenix. The husband and wife team says it can be a challenge running two restaurants….but there’s a secret to their success. — leave work at the restaurant.
“We try not to talk about work when we’re home that’s the key. A lot of the time I run the taco shop by myself. But on the weekends we’re here together. We see a lot of our Hispanic clients come here on Saturdays and Sundays — who’ve been coming since we opened. They like to see us here. It’s nice to see them,” said his wife and business partner Erlinda Moreno.
So If you’re looking for some of the best tacos in town….look no further than Taqueria El Chino…it’s sure to satisfy your Sonoran taco cravings.
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