Go ‘Beyond the Taco’ at These Must Visit Latin Restaurants

By Editor October 25, 2016 09:55

(Featured Photo: Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar’s Shrimp Ceviche/Facebook Photo)

By Isabel Byfield

We all adore tacos, there is no doubt about that; but Latin food goes way beyond the tortillas and carne asada that we all love. UNESCO declared Mexican food an intangible cultural heritage in 2010, gaining international recognition all over the world. However, when people say that all Latin food is created equal, it’s a bit disheartening.

Although Latin cuisine shares some amazing ingredients and cooking techniques across an entire region, each country uses them in a particular way that distinguishes them from the rest. Corn is a great example of an ingredient that can be found in Mexico as the staple ingredient for tacos, burritos and quesadillas in the form of a tortilla; or in Argentina, where the gauchos prepare the Humita, a decadent savory corn pudding.

It’s challenging to find a Latin restaurant that’s dedicated only to one country’s cuisine – though we do have a few Cuban, Spanish, Peruvian, Colombian and Salvadorian Restaurants in the Valley. Sometimes, unless you are from that specific country, you never know that they are out there.

There are a few restaurants that not only focus in one specific cuisine, but also give you a little tour around South America – no passport required. These places offer curated menus that let you enjoy several dishes from different counties in one visit. So if you want to discover the riches of Latin food that go beyond just tacos, add these restaurants to your list of “must visit” places in the Valley.


TORO Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar, Scottsdale

Our first stop is Toro, located at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess – this place is a one-stop-shop for top-notch food and drink. Inspired by Pan Latin Cuisine, Toro is a fusion of different influences, predominantly from the pacific coast of South America.

Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar's Nikkei Lomo Saltado / Facebook Photo

Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar’s Nikkei Lomo Saltado / Facebook Photo

Peru is the guest of honor at Toro, with fresh Tuna Nikkei ceviche as a house specialty. You’ll also find pandebonos (cheese balls) from Colombia as the house bread, Argentinian Churrasco and a toasted juicy Cubano Sandwich (only available for lunch).

You’ll also see a lot of Japanese influence in Toro’s food. Peru had a significant Japanese migration, so you’ll find sushi and several Nikkei style dishes at their “Suviche Bar”; which is a combination of Sushi and Ceviche.


Criollo, Flagstaff

Criollo offers one of the most eclectic Latin menus I’ve seen so far. They’ve included fried plantains from Colombia, Ropa Vieja from Cuba, the Feijoada from Brazil and even some Creole Pork from Haiti.

Their wine selection was really impressive, as they offer wines that I haven’t been able to find in any other restaurants – like the Argentinian Torrontes, a signature white grape variety.

Criollo Flagstaff's Fried Plantains / Photo Credit: Isabel Byfield/AZLatinos.com

Criollo Flagstaff’s Fried Plantains / Photo Credit: Isabel Byfield/AZLatinos.com

Their menu is a great representation of Latin cusine. They’ve curated a very classic menu, and it is easy to find something to love. But if nothing catches your eye, they do have some great tacos – though it’s always good to try something new.


Ticoz, Phoenix

The name can be deceiving and you might think they offer Costa Rican food, but Ticoz is a Latin fusion restaurant inspired by the “Pura Vida” mantra.

You’ll find a great selection of dishes including succulent, very meaty and filling Paella, shrimp ceviche and Cuban sandwiches. When you stop by definitely try their sangria, they’ve crafted an excellent version of this classic Spanish libation.

Ticoz Latin Kitchen's Pitcher and a Plate / Facebook Photo

Ticoz Latin Kitchen’s Pitcher and a Plate / Facebook Photo

Next time you’re thinking about Latin food, think beyond your favorite taco spot and be adventurous. Give other Latin cuisines the opportunity to make you fall in love, not only with their food, but also with their culture.

By Editor October 25, 2016 09:55

Follow Us