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Pico de Gallo

2618 S. 6th Ave., South Tucson, AZ - (520) 623-8775
Posted By Michael Stern on 12/23/2012 5:09:00 AM
Pico de Gallo is a tidy taqueria that started as a taco stand but has grown into several small rooms by enclosing its al fresco porches. It is self-service, meaning you walk in and study the day’s menu posted on the wall. If you’re not totally familiar with Tucson-style Mexican food, you will likely be able to discuss things with Adam Delgado, son of proprietors Ignacio and Antonia (he explained to us that the purple beverage in the vat next to the sweet rice drink known as horchata is wild-berry lemonade; and that the day’s special taco, cahuamanta, was manta ray). Once you place your order, you pay for it, then find a free table. When the food is ready, one of the staff will summon you to the counter to fetch your plates. Everything except for big bowls of soup comes on disposable dishware with plastic utensils.

Pico de Gallo serves Sonoran-style dishes found on many local menus, including tacos of spiced beef and fried fish; burros and quesadillas; and tamales by the dozen. Coctel de elote (corn cocktail) is always on the menu, but it is not quite the beverage its name suggests. It does come in a large Styrofoam cup, the cup filled with an extraordinary stew of warm corn kernels, drifts of soft melted cheese, hot chili, and lime. Spoon it up like soup; it is corn-sweet and lime-zesty.

Marshaled in a refrigerated case at the counter are plastic red cups filled with the restaurant’s namesake, pico de gallo. In this case, the “nip of the rooster” is a blast of salt, chili powder and lemon juice, sprinkled on top of a ravishing bouquet of giant chunks of watermelon, coconut, pineapple, mango, and even some jicama.

The one most compelling thing to eat at Pico de Gallo is the fundamental foodstuff, a soft corn tortilla, either on the side of something else or as the wrap for a taco. Look into the kitchen to the left as you place your order and you will see a big white mound of moistened masa from which the cook pinches off a piece each time a tortilla is needed. When you order three corn tacos, let’s say filled with birria, chicharron, and carne asada, each of the three tortillas will be made to order on the grill. They are soft, earthy, and full-flavored in a way that is an entirely different league from store-bought ones.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
pico de gallo
Ice Cream Bar
tacos
Birria Burrito
horchata
Fish Tacos
Banana Ice
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

Carne asada is moist, intensely beefy, and the perfect thing to pack inside soft warm corn tortillas along with all the other requisite taco ingredients.
"Carne asada is moist, intensely beefy, and the perfect thing to pack inside soft warm corn tortillas along with all the other requisite taco ingredients."
Michael Stern





Pico de gallo, offered by many of South Tucson's Mexican restaurants, is at its best here. It is one of the most refreshing dishes a tongue can know, especially on a day when the temperature goes above 100.
"Pico de gallo, offered by many of South Tucson's Mexican restaurants, is at its best here. It is one of the most refreshing dishes a tongue can know, especially on a day when the temperature goes above 100."
Michael Stern


Note the uneven edge on the soft corn tortilla that wraps this taco. It's hand made and fresh-cooked to fill your order.
"Note the uneven edge on the soft corn tortilla that wraps this taco. It's hand made and fresh-cooked to fill your order."
Michael Stern


Although they first came from Baja into the U.S. in San Diego, fish tacos have become popular in Mexican restaurants throughout the country. Pico de Gallo makes them in the classic configuration, and the tender corn tortillas are a perfect wrap.
"Although they first came from Baja into the U.S. in San Diego, fish tacos have become popular in Mexican restaurants throughout the country. Pico de Gallo makes them in the classic configuration, and the tender corn tortillas are a perfect wrap."
Michael Stern


It's called a corn <U>cocktail</U>, and you can drink it, but a spoon is needed to gather up the corn kernels and drifts of cheese in this extreme comfort food.
"It's called a corn cocktail, and you can drink it, but a spoon is needed to gather up the corn kernels and drifts of cheese in this extreme comfort food."
Michael Stern


The plump beef tamale, still wrapped in it's thick husk.  We loved those pickled carrots and onions that come on the side.
"The plump beef tamale, still wrapped in it's thick husk. We loved those pickled carrots and onions that come on the side."
Cliff Strutz


Pico de Gallo's horchata is rich and creamy, but not thick. The cinnamon sprinkled on top is coarse-ground, adding texture as well as taste.
"Pico de Gallo's horchata is rich and creamy, but not thick. The cinnamon sprinkled on top is coarse-ground, adding texture as well as taste."
Michael Stern


Our favorite Mexican restaurant in South Tucson, maybe our favorite anywhere.
"Our favorite Mexican restaurant in South Tucson, maybe our favorite anywhere."
Michael Stern


Tucson is renowned for its broad tortillas, one of the best uses for which is a quesadilla. This one has been cooked crisp on a buttery grill and is filled with molten cheese.
"Tucson is renowned for its broad tortillas, one of the best uses for which is a quesadilla. This one has been cooked crisp on a buttery grill and is filled with molten cheese."
Michael Stern


This big burrito is filled with birria, which is chile-infused beef. It's also got avocado and cheese packed in.
"This big burrito is filled with birria, which is chile-infused beef. It's also got avocado and cheese packed in."
Michael Stern


Across the small parking lot from Pico de Gallo is this source of sweet treats for dessert.
"Across the small parking lot from Pico de Gallo is this source of sweet treats for dessert."
Michael Stern


Pico de Gallo has grown over the years, but it remains a humble corner restaurant, and one of the culinary lights of South Tucson.
"Pico de Gallo has grown over the years, but it remains a humble corner restaurant, and one of the culinary lights of South Tucson."
Michael Stern


In the room at the back of Paleteria Diana, shaved Ice is packed into a cup, then topped with your choice of fruit and syrup. This one is banana. Other choices include pineapple, coconut, lime, strawberry, watermelon, mango, tamarind, chocolate, peach, and a few other fruits whose names we cannot translate!
"In the room at the back of Paleteria Diana, shaved Ice is packed into a cup, then topped with your choice of fruit and syrup. This one is banana. Other choices include pineapple, coconut, lime, strawberry, watermelon, mango, tamarind, chocolate, peach, and a few other fruits whose names we cannot translate!"
Michael Stern


This part of Pico de Gallo used to be a porch. It has been enclosed now for all-weather meals. No tablecloths, minimal decor, and a dining-room garbage can (in the background) for tossing your own refuse: our kind of place!
"This part of Pico de Gallo used to be a porch. It has been enclosed now for all-weather meals. No tablecloths, minimal decor, and a dining-room garbage can (in the background) for tossing your own refuse: our kind of place!"
Michael Stern


The counter where you place and receive your order is decorated with a lively chicken. The last time we had lunch at Pico de Gallo, the table next to ours was occupied by a half dozen Tucson policeman talking shop.
"The counter where you place and receive your order is decorated with a lively chicken. The last time we had lunch at Pico de Gallo, the table next to ours was occupied by a half dozen Tucson policeman talking shop."
Michael Stern



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