Crujiente Tacos – Order a beverage, and prepare for some powerful flavors!

The Dish: Lamb crujiente taco, plus Texas Wagyu, Seared Shrimp, Tempura Avocado, Beef Short Rib soft-shell tacos, Golden Gazpacho and skillet Mexican street corn
The Place: Crujiente Tacos
The Location: 3961 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ 85018

By: Laura Stoddard

Taco shops and restaurants abound in Phoenix. You’ll find one on nearly every corner, so when something new comes along, we jump at the chance to experience it. Tucked into the cozy southwest corner of Camelback Road and 40th Street (an intersection already boasting myriad great dining establishments like Chelsea’s Kitchen, North Italia, and Vincent’s), sits an exciting, new Latin-inspired gastropub called Crujiente.

The venue is relatively small—the website actually refers to it as a taqueria, or taco stand—but this is anything but. Crujiente has a hip, modern-industrial feel, and a bar that stretches almost the entire length of the dining area (so be assured of vast drink options, especially in the domestic and imported beer arena). Take a seat at one of the pub tables, or sink into a comfy tufted leather booth, order a beverage, and prepare for some powerful flavors.

When co-founders Jason Morris and Rich Hinojosa (also the Executive Chef) opened Crujiente six months ago, their vision was to present creative, re-invented versions of the classic Mexican street taco, featuring unique flavors and textures. Let us assure you, they succeeded. Some of these delicious street tacos include duck breast, pork belly, Korean fried chicken, and a to-die-for beef short rib. On the crunchy side (the basis of the restaurant’s name, as crujiente means crunchy in Spanish), you’ll find either beef, pork or lamb options, each deliciously comprised of cheese, cabbage, and other assorted spices and ingredients. Their specialty cocktails are also a force to be reckoned with, as Jason and Rich are connoisseurs of all things alcohol, both even attaining the prestigious distinction of Level II Sommeliers.

Because most of the menu items are small plate, we tried quite a few, starting with the very flavorful skillet Mexican street corn and made-to-order tortilla chips, delivered in a paper bag to ensure freshness. While noshing on that, we were served their Golden Gazpacho, a refreshing, surprising (because of the spicy kick at the end) chilled soup—a perfect option in hotter weather. Then it was taco time! We tried the pork crujiente taco, plus several of the street tacos, including the Texas Wagyu beef, seared shrimp, tempura avocado (a great vegetarian option), and the 36-Hour beef short rib, which was absolutely delectable. (Next time, we’ll probably order about six of those). All of the plates truly had their own unique flavors, and left us wanting more.

Crujiente has a pretty fantastic happy hour as well, with select eats and drinks available for $7 or less, offered daily from 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm. Come check out this unique, upscale “taco stand” and experience flavorful, quality cuisine in an intimate, modern atmosphere, and prepare to get your crunch on.

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