CRUjiente Tacos

3961 E. Camelback Road, 85018

Cinco de Mayo will have many around the area searching for tacos. Fortunately, Arcadia isn’t light on this culinary creation, as dozens of spots around the area can deliver the goods that people will be looking for around the 5th. 

One of these places is CRUjiente Tacos, located right in the neighborhood, at the northwest corner of 40th and Camelback Road. Arcadians will be familiar with the location, a shopping complex that includes the Water Connection, CVS and Sushiholic. 

The first thing a guest will notice when opening the door to CRUjiente is the surprising amount of space. Although the spot looks narrow from the front, it is a long way to the back of the restaurant, filled with high tops, booths, and a bar on the left side. 

The ambience is a solid blend of causal and fancy, but the most memorable part is unquestionably the food. Chef Rich Hinojosa is from San Antonio, and the taste of Texas is evident in the offerings, with the tacos being separated into two types; crunchy and street. 

The crunchy ones are always in corn shells, with beef, pork or lamb as the choices for meat. Cabbage is the one ingredient that’s a part of all three, adding both an additional crunch and a coolness. The pork taco has slight hint of citrus to it, along with the spice of green chile, pepper jack and pico verde. 

The street tacos are presented on soft, flat shells, with the ingredients showcased right on top. It may seem like an odd thing to notice, but one major plus is that the blue corn soft shell tacos don’t fall apart. It is an easy process to fold the sides and take a bite, and it’s nice to not have to worry about the tortilla splitting and all the good stuff tumbling out. 

The tacos are on the smaller side, so the ideal number for a meal would probably be around three a person. The fresh fish taco is filled with moist pan-seared whitefish, along with citrus slaw and ancho tartar. Also in the seafood category is the seared shrimp taco, with Thai coconut green curry. They’ve also got what appears to be pickled pepper strips, adding a vinegar component to the dish. 

If you’d rather go with land meat, some of the favorites include 36-hour beef short rib, pork belly, and green chile chicken. There is also a taco of the week, which ends up being a unique creation from Chef Hinojosa. Amazingly, Hinojosa has never repeated a taco of the week since CRUjiente opened in late 2016. 

There are also appetizers and desserts on the menu. The absolute go-to for the starters is the Posole. A traditional stew from Mexico, the CRUjiente version is served hot and spicy, with hominy, onion, jalapeño and cilantro topping the dish. The pork is finely shredded throughout, not chunky, meaning you can easily get some in every bite. 

A wide selection of drinks are also available. CRUjiente clearly has a relationship with WhistlePig, as the well-known whiskey is featured in numerous drink choices, including a flight of different vintages. If you have to choose one, it’s hard to go wrong with the Manhattan, a strong but easily drinkable version of the famous cocktail. 

The dishes at CRUjiente make it a tempting choice to visit on the 5th of any month.