When Ignacio "Nacho" Delgado is asked about his favorite item on the menu, he smiles.
“I love everything," said Nacho, co-owner of Taqueria Pico de Gallo. "This is the food that my family was raised on and I eat it every day.”
If you’re in the mood for a flavor fiesta, head to Taqueria Pico de Gallo at the corner of Sixth Avenue and 36th Street. This little taco paradise was opened in 1991 and has been a hot spot for authentic Sonoran fare ever since.
Pico de gallo, which translates literally to “beak of the rooster,” is also the name of a chunky tomato salsa with onion, cilantro, lime, and serrano pepper. The colors of the vegetables and peppers used in the salsa are said to resemble the feathers of a rooster.
Much like the salsa, Taqueria Pico de Gallo is vibrantly colored. The building is painted with a fresh coat of macaroni yellow and chile pepper red. The inside is a maze of sunny rooms decorated with paraphernalia from Mexico — colorful plates and bowls are mounted to the walls, playful old-school candy dispensers sit by the front door, and paintings featuring various quirky renditions of roosters line the hallways.
The menu highlights Mexican favorites including tacos, burros, tostadas, and quesadillas. Diners can choose from a handful of combination plates, or order their meals a la carte. Nothing on the menu is over $10, so customers can treat their loved ones without breaking the bank.
Tacos are served either on crispy flour or thick and hearty corn tortillas made in house.
The Chicken and Carne Asada Tacos are garnished simply with chopped cabbage and pico de gallo to highlight the flavor of the meat. Both the chicken and carne asada are lightly caramelized with a crust from the grill, offering a crispy outer layer with exceptionally juicy meat inside.
Although flour tortillas are popular for these meats, corn tortillas also work well by soaking up the drippings and providing a sturdy foundation.
Additional tacos include Pescado (fish), Camaron (shrimp), Cabeza (head meat), Barbacoa, Guacamole, and Frijol (refried beans).
Lengua usually costs about a dollar more per taco, but it definitely worth it — the tongue is one of the hardest working muscles on the cow, providing succulent, intensely beefy flavor without any gaminess.
The delightful house hot sauce on every table cuts sharply into the rich, savory flavors. The prominent notes of chiltepin peppers are spicier than your average Tabasco, giving heat upfront followed by a pleasant burn.
For a simple and delicious side, order the bright and refreshing Pico de Gallo Fruit Cup with coconut, pineapple, and watermelon. Customers have the option to get lime juice and Tajín (chile powder, lime powder, and salt) drizzled over and sprinkled on top to bring a spicy zing to the sweet simple flavors.
Horchata also works wonders for cooling down. A must for first-time diners, horchata is essentially a sweet cinnamon rice milk.
While Pico de Gallo's recipe is under lock and key, Nacho mentioned a few secret ingredients: “rice, cinnamon, vanilla, and 500 pounds of love”.
The creamy milk and subtle sweetness balance with the spices to instantly cool an overheated palate.
Pico de Gallo also offers Raspados — coarsely shaved ice deserts similar to a snow cone. Simple fruit syrup is poured over ice and fresh fruit pulp is mixed in.
Available flavors include vanilla, strawberry, pineapple, tamarind, plum, and mango.
Slow-churned ice cream (one scoop or two) can be ordered on the top (chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry) for added creaminess and decadence.
Taqueria Pico de Gallo is open from 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. daily at 2618 S. Sixth Ave. and can be reached at (520) 623-8775.