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Best Taco Stand

Los Betos
Six locations

READERS' PICK: When the craving for a tasty taco hits and you're months away from a drive down to Rocky Point, Los Betos delivers. It's been a couple of years since the ubiquitous franchises set up shop in some of those vacant Rally's stands, but the authentic flavors have earned a loyal following of drive-thru customers. We're not talking your typical fast-food tacos here: Los Betos offers the taco lover real south-of-the-border taste 24 hours a day, with steaming fried rice, savory refried beans, and the absolute best fish tacos anywhere. Los Betos has plenty to offer the soft-core vegetarian, from tostadas to burros (it tastes too good to be certain there's no lard present). Forget that "make a run to the border" crap, Betos has it all for less than five bucks.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: It's hard to say how many times we drove past Nico's Mexican Food, 1855 E. Fort Lowell Road, choosing instead the dominant franchise next door. Shame on us. What finally brought us into the light was the pulsating "Open 24 Hours" sign that burned indelibly into our retinas, hypnotizing us somewhere near 2 a.m. to satisfy an imperative burrito craving. Far from a taco stand of last resort, however, we've returned to Nico's many a time by daylight for breakfast burritos, chorizo and eggs, carne asada and machaca. The combination plates are generous, including sides of rice, beans and salsa fresca that'll keep your feet on the ground. The Mexican tortas are filled to order, ensuring that any time of the day or night you can find the comfort food you need.

STAFF PICK: So nondescript you've probably passed it a zillion times without batting an eye as you drive down South Sixth Avenue, Pico de Gallo, 2618 S. Sixth Ave., is like a taco stand mirage--almost too good to be true. For nearly seven years, the Delgado family has delighted a small legion of dedicated followers with flavorful birria, shrimp ceviche tostadas and the trademark tomato relish for which the restaurant is named. Recently, however, word seems to be out that this is the taquería to visit when you crave authentic Mexican food at a reasonable price. The carne asada (thin, tender, grilled strips of beef lightly seasoned with garlic and other spices), corn tortillas made daily on the premises and the thirst-quenching horchata are just a few of the wonders that await.

Case History

1998 Winner: Los Betos
1997 Winner: BK Hot-Dogs
1995 Winner: Los Betos

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