Visitors always want to know about local places that offer good food at a budget price. We have so many, but El Sur has the best tacos I’ve had in Tucson. In many visits I’ve only had one meal I wouldn’t highly recommend.
Tacos Caseros are to die for. I usually get the chicken. Caseros means pan fried. No pre-made taco shell. This is how my Aunts made them. Put the meat in a corn tortilla and fry the folded taco in a skillet in an inch or two of oil on one side, then the other. When you get them, you have to open them up and stuff in the lettuce, tomato & cheese. Add hot or mild salsa (the hot isn’t that hot…at least for me). OMG. The staff also comes by to offer grilled onions & peppers (usually serranos and they ARE hot).
The beans are traditional. The rice is good but not exciting. Every time I’ve been, my friends have tried different dishes and loved everything. On my most recent visit, I guided my date to the tacos and I tried the “special” chicken fajitas. They use white meat which was tasty but a bit dry for me. $4.95 is a terrific price but I wouldn’t get them again. They were tasty. (they were tasty but too dry?) I got a flour tortilla with the fajitas.
FYI: good flour tortillas in Tucson are big and thin. The old joke is if you can read a newspaper through it…it’s a real Tucson flour tortilla. When I lived in Texas, it was the opposite. Flour was 6” and table tortillas and were thick. Corn tortillas were thin. Here corn tortillas are thick.
I also ordered a green corn tamale. It was very good. Sweet like they should be. Green corn tamales should only be available in the fall after harvest when the green corn husks are available. They are white corn masa (dough) with no meat but cheese and green chile strips instead. Some may have kernels of corn as well. They are traditionally wrapped in green (not dried) corn husks, therefore the name. They are not made with “green” corn.
The service has always been good; friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. The food comes out quickly and has always been fresh and hot. The location is an old house but you wouldn’t know it except the bathrooms are pretty small. The tables are typical restaurant tables. The floor is tile and the décor is simple. El Sur is packed at lunch during the week. There are usually lots of Davis-Monthan servicemen and women dining at El Sur. (Thank you for your service!).
My most recent visit was a Monday night. At 6 pm it wasn’t super busy but by the time we were leaving it was filling up. It’s relatively small maybe 12-15 tables. Two of the owners are usually there, Isela & Omar Mejia. The menu is complete. Their prices are very reasonable. The tacos run $8.95, Chimichangas are $5, Green Corn Tamales $7.49, Chile Rellenos $6.99.
They have beer and liquor. I had the house margarita, $2.00! Yep, but it could use more liquor. They have a Patron margarita for $4.00. It probably needs more tequila as well. I usually have a beer. This is a very good restaurant at very fair prices. Value with a capital “V”.
El Sur Mexican Restaurant
5602 E. 22nd St.
Tucson, Az 85711