First it was salsa, then tequila, now it's tacos that are getting some overdue north-of-the-border afición. Scottsdale, Arizona will be the next to worship at taco altar when it hosts Arizona Taco Festival, a celebration of all the delicious things you can stack on tortillas of flour and corn and lettuce.
Curated by the same team that put on Scottsdale's barbecue festival earlier this year, the test this time is to see which chef can stack the the most tantalizing tacos in chicken, pork, beef and fish flavors. New York City chef Richard Sandoval (La Biblioteca, Maya, Zenga) is flying in to prep his team from Scottsdale's Fairmont Hotel resto La Hacienda. At the other end, Phoenix farm-to-table restaurant St. Francis doesn't even serve tacos, but the owner flew to Mexico to learn the trade. Between them will be 30 chefs and restaurants plotting the perfect light Latin lunch.
Because there can't be tacos without tequila, Tres Agaves will be doing hand-crafted margaritas, Corrido will be doing a private tequila bar, and labels such as Don Julio, Epsolon, Vince Neils' Tres Rios and Roger Clyne's Mexican Moonshine will be all be vying for the chance to rescue you from the dark side of the agave plant usually referred to as "Cuervo."
And if that's not enough, a hot-chili-eating contest featuring the ghost chili, the pepper so hot that the men who farm it say, "When you eat it, it's like dying." And yes, there will be a Mariachi band happy to serenade your chili escapades.
The AZ Taco Fest goes down October 9, 10 am to 5 pm, general admission $10, VIP tickets $50, tacos for a $2-spot. More info at www.aztacofestival.com.