How a Phoenix taco shop earned national recognition

Tacos Chiwas came onto Phoenix’s dining scene as small, counter-serve restaurant offering a tight menu of Chihuahua-style street food, such as beef cheek barbacoa tacos and gorditas deshebradas rojas — pillowy and thick flour tortilla pockets stuffed with red chile shredded beef, potato and beans.

Customers also became fans of the restaurant’s retro building, which has a distinctive split-gable roof with brown shingles, remnants of its former days as a Dairy Queen.

Then-Phoenix dining critics Dominic Armato and Patricia Escárcega gave the newcomer standout reviews and the following year, Guy Fieri gave the restaurant a boost on his Food Network series “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”

In 2019 Tacos Chiwas expanded to a second location in Chandler. Holguin got a semifinalist nod for the James Beard Awards’ Best Chef — Southwest category for her work at the now-closed Roland’s Cafe Market Bar.

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