Steals on meals: Downtown Phoenix's Taco Guild

Like many other college students, luxury isn't always an option for me. However, that doesn't mean there aren't opportunities to bask in the middle- or high-brow restaurants in the campus' surrounding areas.

Frugal spenders can enjoy a tasty meal if they properly utilize happy hours and other local deals. In this series, I will explore some of the affordable options for local eateries so that even college students can feel luxurious.

When pulling into the Taco Guild Gastropub parking lot, I had to make sure I was in the right place because, for all intents and purposes, I was at a religious institute. The exterior of the pub is a shell of a church including a steeple and cross — the only sign that I was at the right place were the words "Taco Guild" written in red and an outdoor patio.

When I opened the large, heavy door I was able to confirm I was at the right place, but the church theme stayed intact. The aesthetic of Taco Guild is very singular, from the ornate furnishing to the stained-glass windows. Maybe the most notable feature of Taco Guild is the gigantic chandelier completely consuming the middle of the room. As divine as the atmosphere was, I was at Taco Guild for the food.

A photo posted by Fredmeister (@steel0w) on

The restaurant was quiet on the Wednesday afternoon I chose to pop in. I came for the happy hour, which is from 4 to 7 p.m. on weekdays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and 2 to 10 p.m on Sundays. Taco Guild also has a reverse happy hour from 10 p.m. to close every night.

I was seated immediately, and my waiter brought out warm tortilla chips with a variety of salsas. I didn’t order a drink, although there were many specials running for happy hour. These included $5 margaritas, $1 off draft beers or a deal called “The Socializer,” where Taco Guild offers a shot of Sauza Blue Reposado for a dollar when purchased with a draft beer.

The special I was most interested in was the daily taco for $1.99. The waiter informed me that the special of the day was carnitas, of which I happily ordered two. For good measure, I also ordered the Yucatan shrimp taco which was topped off with cabbage and avocados. 

My waiter was back in mere minutes with the three tacos in a metal taco rack. I started with the carnitas taco which was moist and overflowing with beans and pork. It was full of flavor and quite filling for only $2. I then started on the Yucatan shrimp, which was generous on the shrimp but light on the avocado.

Our corned beef tacos is like finding a pot of gold! Happy Hour starts at 4pm. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Posted by Taco Guild on Thursday, March 17, 2016

By the time I was full, I had barely made a dent on the third taco, but I powered through. When the bill came I was able to finally put the dining experience into perspective. I stuffed my face with chips and ate three tacos for less than $8 before tax and a tip. 

The aesthetic and atmosphere were worth more than that alone, but I was able to also enjoy original, local tacos for as much as I would spend on a meal at a fast food joint. I will surely be back, and I have heard that the crackling lamb is a customer favorite. 

Related Links:

Champagne taste, beer budget: Duza's Kitchen

Champagne taste, beer budget: The Clever Koi upgrades a college staple

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