This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. This blog is not supported by advertising, it's supported by the generosity of my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

Eating Mexican Food for the first time in 1977, Phoenix, Arizona


Time-travel with me back to 1977 in Phoenix, Arizona. That's the year that I ate Mexican Food for the first time.

I was nineteen, and had only been in Phoenix for a few months, having moved from Minneapolis, Minnesota. I drove there in an MG Midget, which was a tiny little two-seater British sports car, and the first thing it needed when I got into town was repairs. All cars need repairs, but old British cars ALWAYS needed repairs. So I found the first repair shop that had a Union Jack out front and went there. The place was called Delta Motorsports, and they had just opened a few years back. They specialized in Jensen-Healeys, but were willing to make an exception for me and my MG. They did great work, and became my first Graphic Design client when I designed a car parts catalog for them, which went on to become very successful, and started my career as a Graphic Designer.

One of the things that you do with clients is to go to lunch. And so one day we went to lunch at a Mexican Food Restaurant called La Cucaracha, which was on the southeast corner of 7th Street and Indian School Road. I spoke enough Spanish to realize that the name meant "the Cockroach", which I felt was a strange name for a restaurant, but I hadn't made the connection with the traditional Mexican song "La Cucuaracha" (La cucaracha, la cucaracha, Ya no puede caminar, Porque no tiene, porque le falta...).

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I knew nothing about Mexican Food. There were Taco Bells in Minneapolis, but I never ate there. There may be authentic Mexican Food restaurants now in Minneapolis, but back in the 1970s there weren't any. So I followed the lead of my friends, and ordered what they suggested, and I ate my first meal of Mexican Food. Of course, it was too hot for me, and I remember suddenly, and desperately, reaching for the nearest glass of water, which belonged to one of my clients. I never lived that down, even though I learned to love hot Mexican Food, and always have a jalapeƱo with my Carne Asada.

Needless to say, there are a LOT of great Mexican Food restaurants in Phoenix. I'm no expert, but I know what I like. My favorite place nowadays is Manuels here in Glendale, on Peoria and 51st Avenue, and I just love their fajitas. Of course there's also... well, I could go on and on, but I won't, I'm not doing a commercial here, I'm just time-traveling. So if you've never tried Mexican Food in Phoenix, I highly recommend it. And keep a glass of water handy!

Image at the top of this post: Lacucaracha in the 1960s, southeast corner of 7th Street and Indian School Road, Phoenix, Arizona.