SEE INSIDE: Crujiente Tacos bringing elevated street tacos to Phoenix

Posted at 9:06 PM, Nov 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-07 23:37:16-05

There is a new taco shop to check out in the Valley.

Executive Chef Rich Hinojosa, who most recently was at the Wigwam Resort, is the magician behind Crujiente Tacos, a taqueria focused on "bold flavors" and "thoughtful cuisine."

He partnered with Jason Morris to open up in a shopping center near 40th Street and Camelback Road, taking over the vacancy created when The Grind closed its doors in July.

Last week, ABC15 was given a behind-the-scenes tour ahead of the store's opening the day before Election Day.

To Hinojosa, a tortilla is a "blank canvas" that a chef gets to use to create a culinary masterpiece. Instead of paintbrushes, he uses ingredients like beef, pork, duck and fish to bring his work to life.

The final touches, such as a pinch of spice or a dollop of a sauce, are the details he wants guests to notice.

"I haven't seen anyone whose doing tacos like this," he said. But don't confuse that with him trying to re-invent the wheel. Instead, he says, the base is simple street tacos, but with an elevated and balanced flavor profile.

On the menu, guests will find at least fourteen varieties of street taco, including the Korean Fried Chicken taco, Ahi Poke taco and lengua taco.

(The Korean Fried Chicken Taco took first place at the Arizona Taco Festival, as did the "El Neato Meato." The Pork Belly taco took second place.)

They also have soup, salads and ceviche.

The interior is narrow, rugged and masculine with brick walls, wood-framed mirrors, booths and community tables. There is a large glass garage at the front which will be nice during Arizona's "winter" months.

Morris said the bar is focused on premium whiskey, bourbon and tequila, but that they will carry a variety of spirits. At the top of the bar, guests will be able to purchase lockers and store their own premium spirits, he said.

Crujiente Tacos, 3961 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix AZ 85018