Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Best Mexican Food in the USA!

I went to Carolina’a del Norte in Phoenix this morning.   As I sat there eating one of the simple pleasures of living here, I was reminded of one of the great Mexican Food arguments which circulates around this part of the world. 

My friend Bob Boze Bell, millionaire publisher, of True West magazine, has been in a several decade long debate with the Distinguished Professor Paul Andrew Hutton, Professor of history at The University of New Mexico. 

Both men are well versed, lecture, and have written extensively, on the history of the American west.  Professor Hutton says, that New Mexico has the nations best “Mexican food”, with Mr. Bell correctly arguing, that Arizona has the best!

This is not some subjective argument because I prefer Arizona’s use of certain chiles or cilantro.  There is a simple reason that we have the best Mexican food in the U.S.  Arizona was the least inhabited region of the Southwest.  We had no real anglo settlement until, after the Gadsden Purchase in1852 and then the Civil War, which ended in 1865.  Tucson was basically an army outpost from the 1860’s on.  Eventually growing into a small community and then the largest city in what would become Arizona, until the farming around Phoenix grew in the early 1900’s.

Now I’m sure Professor Hutton, will take great offence with me, a mere cook, lecturing him on history.  But knowing history and understanding it are two different enchiladas (Professor Hutton, please see; food, Mexican, if that school has dictionaries).

The food currently being offered in New Mexico is a combination of Spanish and Native American, traditions starting in the 1500’s. In the 500 years since they have developed a separate “New Mexican “cuisine, that although delicious, is not Mexican food. 

Here in Arizona we’ve only had 150 years to bastardize the Mexican food, with our best efforts coming directly with Mexicans, across the border.  California like Texas are both older and have a lot of fusion, Mexican food.  I’m not saying that there are no great Mexican food restaurants in these places… there are. 
Just saying, Mexican food, is a misnomer, like saying, American food.  There are many styles and traditions through out Mexico and the food here is mostly “Northern Mexican” food.   But, Professor Hutton, our Mexican food can beat your Mexican food with one stove tied behind it’s back!

Mad Coyote Joe


  1. Okay, Mr. Mad Coyote, gotta introduce myself - you just make me laugh. I'm Keren - lucky enough to grow up in San Diego not 45 min from the border, so I was one of the lucky blondie white girls who actually grew up with REAL Mexican friendsw (aka food) - thank you Villalobos family! I moved to Arizona in '04 (Gilbert first, then migrated over to Queen Creek, now dubbed 'San Tan Valley'. One of my prized possiesions that was ALWAYS carefully packed (and unpacked first during those moves) was my Mad Coyote Joe's Grigos Guide to Mexican Cooking. No joke. I've only made a handful of the recipes, but I make them over and over and over . . . I actually get harassed for frijoles a la charra by various family members that followed us here. So as busy as I am (two young children, one teenager, a hubby trying to start up a business, and nursing school to boot), I decided to make only one New Year's Resolution (well, besides graduating). I decided to make every single recipe in this favorite cookbook of mine - even (gah!) the all-intimidating MOLE. We'll see how it goes. Now for the really funny part - I actually only knew you lived somewhere in AZ (saw it in the back of the book once) and didn't think much about it. But I just googled you and found you're in Cave Creek - not an hour away, and my sis lives there too! Too funny. Now I'm seriously going to have to follow your blog in my pursuit of amazing Mex food. Cheerio neighbor!

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Gringo's Guide is the book that keeps on paying year after year. It was a real work of love to write. If you ever have any direct questions just drop an Email to
      Mad Coyote Joe

  2. Thank You Joe for writing about Mexican foods. I love Mexican foods. I am surprised to read the history of Mexican food in USA that you mentioned here in the post. Hopefully, we will get more posts from you.