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SPECIAL YEAR-END EDICION

EUGENE

Burrito Track in Monmouth. The al pastor tacos are the best! That's how their best cook won me over! Now that's Amor! 189 Pacific Ave. S, Monmouth, 503-838-4997.

FLAGSTAFF

La Fonda efficiently serves big hot fresh plates of what seems real Mexican food. They're not corporate and they employ people from same neighborhood. 1900 N. 2nd St., Flagstaff, 928-779-0296.

HOUSTON

El Buey y la Vaca: There is a huge community pot of charro beans in the corner free for everyone, and the salsa bar is never clean but you can tell the salsa is always super fresh.

INLAND EMPIRE

Tacos Tamazula's has chile verde to die for, mouth-watering salsa and shrimp ceviche that'll make your tongue hard for a week!!!! 3484 2nd St., Norco, 909-371-3103.

LAS VEGAS

You need to stop at Lindo Michoacan in Las Vegas because they have the best shrimp quesadillas ANYWHERE. 2655 E. Desert Inn Rd., Las Vegas, 702-735-6828; www.lindomichoacan.com.

LOS ANGELES

Enrique's is so accustomed to great reviews in print that they no longer care. Their walls are full. Delicious, big portions approved by Mexican natives. 6210 Pacific Coast Hwy., Long Beach, 562-498-3622.

NEW YORK

Tacos El Rey has the best chilaquiles my wife has every tasted, and their sopa de pollo is a meal in itself. Perhaps to accommodate the surrounding Russian/Jewish community the flavors are mild and the decor your basic serapes and sombreros, but the clientele is 90% raza. 3168 Coney Island Ave., Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, 718-769-0116.

PHOENIX

You must visit the Barrio Cafe. Just don't go on Mondays. That puerta will be cerrada. Why's it so bueno? Two words for your sister: comida chingona. Three words for your madre: comida orgullosamente mexicana. 2814 N. 16th St., Phoenix, 602-636-0240.

SACRAMENTO

Lalo's is notable because they serve fresh huitlacoche quesadillas and the birria on weekends is off the chain! 5063 24th St., Sacramento, 916-736-2389.

SALT LAKE CITY

Oh, hell yeah. A Mexican-Mormon started this great local chain in Salt Lake City called Cafe Rio that is sure to please. It is not really Mexican food, of course, but it sure as hell tastes good. It is given in typical Mormon quantities, of course.

SAN ANTONIO

The Original Donut. Best tacos: carne guisada, chorizo con huevo, machacado con huevo. Best plates: chile relleno (viernes), enchiladas verdes (miercoles). Weekend specials: barbacoa, menudo. Donas son fabulosas. 3307 Fredericksburg Rd., San Antonio, 210-734-5661.

SAN DIEGO

Los Panchos: Tienen tacos, tortas, burritos, y el pinche speedy Gonzales. Para los gabachos y uno que otro pendejo that orders it. 2441 National City Blvd., National City, 619-474-7194.

SAN FRANCISCO

Mission, 3 a.m., battle-staggers and hunger-pangs. Oh, for tender carnitas perfectas, salsa picante solamente. Mira! That beloved Golden Beacon doth Shine; El Farolito. Salvation! 2779 Mission St., San Francisco, 415-824-7877; www.elfarolitoinc.com.

TUCSON

El Indio es lo mejor! Soy un gabacho pero it's wonderful food. Most local Mexicans eat there. Come try it! 3355 South 6th Ave., Tucson, 520-620-0504.

TULSA

I live in Tulsa but I still go back to Wichita for El Mexico Cafe. Bill's Deluxe Burrito and Tacos, ever since 1962. Excellent beyond description, seasoned to perfection. 2544 S. Seneca St., Wichita, Kansas, 316-558-8220.

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