Super Tacos Los Cuais
When we first moved to Phoenix, I remember looking forward to spending some time seeking out hidden Mexican gems. My husband speaks fluent Spanish, and as we would drive through Glendale near our NW Valley neighborhood with its Mexican panaderias and carnicerias, I'd wonder if we were passing an abuelita (grandmother) cooking up amazing family recipes or the best pollo asado en la parrilla (marinated chicken on the grill). Eight years later, and I've sadly have yet to embark on a Mexican food crawl.
Earlier this week, however, we were headed to have tacos for lunch (at a Glendale spot whose name I couldn't remember) and decided it was a perfect afternoon to explore along the way. Pulling into a strip mall that looked promising, we saw a sign that said Super Tacos Los Cuais de Lagos, and, prominently on the window, Tacos al Pastor, my favorite. What really had me excited was also seeing the words directo del trompo (directly or right off the trompo). Although this vertical spit or trompo is the modo autentico (authentic way) of cooking the stacked slices of pork marinated in an adobo of dried, chiles, spices, and achiote, it's an elusive sight, with many places opting for the easy shortcut of simply grilling pieces of pork .
Trompo translates to a top, and the fat from the pork continually bastes the marinated meat as it spins before being carved from the sides to pile on your tortilla. Traditionally seasoned with pineapple and onion, the pork is often finished on a hot griddle for those addictive crispy edges. If you see similarities to Middle Eastern shawarma or doner, it's because al pastor (in the style of the shepherd) was introduced to Mexico by Lebanese immigrants.
Verdict? Delicious! The tender and flavorful pork was heaped on a toasty handmade corn tortilla and topped with a slice of pineapple. Tip: It can be served with or without the piña, so asking for al pastor con piña will ensure you get the wonderful combination of chile-spiced charred pork and sweet pineapple.
We couldn't help but order some other tasty tacos, including carne asada, goat birria, and lengua or beef tongue.
They were accompanied by lime wedges, sliced radish, cilantro, and chopped onion, and a trio of bright salsas - red, green, and one with smoked chiles.
From top left: Al pastor, lengua, birria, and carne asada:
My husband liked the carne asada so much, he ordered a burrito. His $5.25 burrito came stuffed with meat and leftovers became dinner too.
For fellow menudo fans, they serve menudo every day, not just the weekend. I also noticed many diners ordering gorditas, so I'll have to save room for next time! Cash only, and closed on Mondays. Address: 6522 West Glendale Ave #14, Glendale, AZ 85301.