Tucson knows tacos. While it's easy to find outstanding tacos around town, sometimes you need more than hole-in-the-wall service and comfortable seating.
Blanco Tacos + Tequila provides modern Mexican food in a casual-chic environment. It's nice enough to take a coworker, but laid-back enough to have fun with friends. The second-story restaurant has a scenic patio overlooking northern Tucson, making it a beautiful spot to unwind.
Since the food is modern Mexican, you won't find the exact same things as you'd find out of your abuela's kitchen or a south Tucson taco joint. Classics such as traditional carnitas tacos share the spotlight with other items such as the beef "house specialty" enchiladas filled with braised short rib.
The drink menu also deviates from tradition with cocktails such as sparkling sangria and the strawberry pineapple daiquiri. However, the liquor selection runs deep with over 40 different tequilas.
Even though Blanco has high-end neighbors such as Tiffany & Co. and Louis Vuitton, the restaurant is still welcoming. The hora feliz (happy hour) is packed with antojitos (little cravings) at prices that are tough to beat, especially considering it's at La Encantada. Specials include:
Though a bottle of Corona ($3) is part of the commercial beach fantasy, go for a Oaxacan Shandy ($5). Tecate lager is mixed with Jose Cuervo Silver, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, pineapple, and cilantro for a drink more refreshing than beer with lime.
For a savory beertail, go for the Caliente Michelada ($5) made with Modelo Especial, spiced tomato, and a chili rim. Jose Cuervo Silver is also included here, so it has bit of bite beyond the spice.
The margaritas ($5) are available classic or in fruit flavors such as pomegranate/grapefruit, mixed berry, and white peach & hibiscus. They come in pint glasses and not dainty "margarita glasses," so pace yourself accordingly.
The Dips ($3) include three little bowls of Blanco Guacamole, Green Chili Queso, and Charro Bean. The guacamole by itself should be worth at least $3, so it's a delight to also receive other dips that are stars of their own. The queso is far more complex than microwaved Velveeta, but manages to keep the satisfying melty-gooey factor.
For something more filling, grab a quesadilla ($3) and add some machaca. It happens to be more affordable than comparably-sized quesadillas at streetside taco joints, but is no less authentic with its manchego, asadero, Oaxaca, and cotija cheeses.
The tacos ($3) are served on house-made corn tortillas. For a twist on the traditionally pork al pastor, order the pastor chicken, which is prepared with achiote, roasted pineapple, grilled onion, chipotle sauce, and cabbage slaw.
Exclusive to the happy hour menu are the tortas ($4), which are essentially Mexican sandwiches. At Blanco, they're larger than sliders but not quite big enough for a meal, making them ideal to order in addition to the other menu items. The crispy shrimp "po boy" comes with crunchy battered shrimp, chipotle mayo, pickled fresno chili, and a tangy green cabbage slaw. The spicy machaca beef packs a kick with roasted habanero salsa and melted asadero, which is like a Mexican mozzarella.
For something off the happy hour menu, check out the chicken mole and vegetable rice with calabacitas, which made our mole list.
Blanco Tacos + Tequila is located at 2905 E. Skyline Dr., #246 and is open daily. Happy hour runs 3 - 6 p.m. daily. For more information, visit foxrc.com. To keep up with specials, visit Blanco Tacos + Tequila on Facebook. For a list of other hot happy hour picks, click here.
Jackie Tran is a Tucson-based food writer, photographer, culinary educator, and owner-chef of the food truck Tran's Fats. Although he is best known locally for his work for Tucson Foodie, his work has also appeared in publications such as Bon...