READERS' PICK: Much was made of the fact that when President Clinton visited Tucson, he ate at Mi Nidito. It's really not that big a deal, since he'll apparently eat anything (insert your own joke here). What is important is the rabid following among locals; Mi Nidito has been a favorite for decades. Our buddy Jaime Teso has been eating at Mi Nidito for 30 years and offers this as the highest compliment possible: It's the only Mexican restaurant at which his mother will eat. Jim Gleeson says that the food is all served HOT--not just enchiloso hot, but hot to the touch, as well. The cheese is melted, the sauce is steaming and even the plates radiate heat. The salsa is perfect and everything is cooked to order. The taco shells are irregular, meaning that they're real and not sold to the restaurant by the thousand. Put simply, it's got everything one of the Southwest's best Mexican restaurants should have--an inconvenient location, questionable furniture, and food so good, you'd walk from Gila Bend in July just to smell it.
READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Micha's, 2908 S. Fourth Ave. One of the most heated battles each year during the staff meetings revolves around the Mi Nidito-Micha's rivalry. Each restaurant has its devoted following and passions run high. Micha's is always full at lunchtime and does booming business for dinner, as well. We like to keep it simple here, pigging out on the hot chips and smooth salsa before ordering our favorite entrée, the machaca chimichanga. At around five bucks, it's incredibly filling and a testament to the beauty and strength of Mexican food--it's simple, delicious, and there is no way that anyone should be able to charge a lot of money for it.
LOOSE CHANGE: Taqueria Pico de Gallo, 2618 S. Sixth Ave. OK, here's the deal: You want good, real Mexican food, but don't want to wait an hour to get it. So what do you do? What you do is get your lazy behind down to Taqueria Pico de Gallo on South Sixth Avenue, where the food is great and the furniture is suspect. Pico de Gallo features great authentic and fast Mexican dishes. Whether you're in the mood for a carnivorous carne asada taco or burrito, tangy ceviche, or an unbelievable eggie burrito, Pico's got it. They've also got the yummiest guacamole, best fresh horchata (see Best Horchata, page 94) and the hottest-of-the-hot hot sauce (see Best Hot Sauce, page 93). If this don't cut it, you're outta luck, pal.