Each taco comes with minced cabbage and onion, plus a mild, smoky red salsa.EXPAND
Each taco comes with minced cabbage and onion, plus a mild, smoky red salsa.
Shelby Moore

Taco Summer: Mesquite-Grilled Carne Asada and Pollo Asado in Mesa and Gilbert

16. Backyard Taco

Taquería: Backyard Taco, 1524 East University Drive, Mesa
Open Since: 2013
Style: Northern Mexican mesquite-grilled meats by way of Sinaloa
Signature Taco: Carne asada and pollo asado

When it comes to mesquite-grilled carne asada and pollo asado, there are three companies in Phoenix jockeying for the attention of the masses: Ta'Carbon, Mr. Mesquite, and Backyard Taco.

Growing at roughly equal speeds, they’re actually pretty far from one another geographically, thanks to the suburban sprawl that characterizes Phoenix. Glendale and west Phoenix are home to two locations of Ta’Carbon, south and North Scottsdale are home to the two locations of Mr. Mesquite, and out in the East Valley, in Mesa and in Gilbert, you'll find Backyard Taco.

Mesquite-grilling finds its origins in Mexico’s northern states, and it is a pretty bare-bones form of cooking. Often, the meats aren’t even marinated, relying on the mesquite wood for the bulk of their flavor. Because mesquite burns hot, the meat is mostly cooked on grills with grates that can be adjusted to move vertically, away from the flames, which allows grillers to speed up or slow down the cooking process. Charred ends are a desirable hallmark of this style, as they lend crispy texture and hints of smoke.

Backyard Taco is loyal to the Northern Mexico style, and with good reason, as the owners hail from Mazatlan, one of the many coastal cities along the slender northern state of Sinaloa.

The tacos at Backyard are garnished in the traditional way, with just a scattering of very finely minced cabbage and onion. A salsa bar awaits with customary avocado sauce, red salsa, and a vibrant pico de gallo.

The Mesa location, which has been open since 2013, still feels very quaint, despite the shop's very modern branding. Their Gilbert location, which just opened across the street from Agritopia, is another story entirely — massive and built for volume, including a drive-thru lane.

Whether you dine in or take your tacos to go, you're sure to be gratful to have these distinctive, smoky tacos available on the east side.

Backyard Taco, which opened in Mesa in 2013, has branding that feels modern, and a sleek new location in Gilbert that aims to do higher volume in a part of town where the good tacos are more scarce.EXPAND
Backyard Taco, which opened in Mesa in 2013, has branding that feels modern, and a sleek new location in Gilbert that aims to do higher volume in a part of town where the good tacos are more scarce.
Shelby Moore

Our Taco Summer picks so far:

50. Taqueria Don Beto
49. Kiss Pollos Estilo Sinaloa
48. Tacos Tijuana
47. El Burrito Grande
46. El Horseshoe Restaurant
45. Tacos Sahuaro
44. El Pollo Correteado
43. Adrian's
42. La Fiesta
41. Taqueria Lucy
40. Tortas Ahogadas George
39. Taqueria El Chino
38. Joe's Tacos
37. Taqueria El Gallo de Lagos
36. Tacos Huicho
35. Puffy Taco Shack
34. Ni De Aqui Ne De Alla
33. Mr. Mesquite
32. Senor Ozzy's
31. Tacos Jalisco
30. Ta'Carbon
29. Taqueria Los Yaquis
28: Helio Basin Brewing
27: Sonora Taco Shop
26: Mercado Y Carniceria Cuernavaca
25. Restaurant Atoyac Estilo Oaxaca
24. Paquime Street Food
23. The Rez
22. Asadero Toro
21. La Frontera 1
20. Taquería Yaqui
19. Presidio Cocina Mexicana
18. Mucha Lucha Taco Shop
17. Casa Reynoso

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