When you think of tacos, does church come to mind?
On Osborn Road just off 7th street lies an old church from the 1800’s that has taken form of one of the most nationally recognized taco hotspots in the United States- Taco Guild.
If not for the aroma or well-stocked tequila bar, one would think nothing different of the establishment from the outside. The stain glass windows are still intact and a cross sits atop the building on a bell tower.
The inside holds one large chandelier in the center of the dining area, maroon leather pews line the perimeter of the restaurant, and the bar area symbolizes a large altar.
According to Jason Kline, general manager of Taco Guild, the story goes something like this:
In the Pioneer Days in Arizona, a man named John Preston Osborn lived in Prescott. He owned a ranch with a barn, horses and livestock. Unable to stop vandalism by the Natives, who scattered his livestock, burnt down his barn and stole his horses, Osborn purchased 160 acres in North Phoenix.
Osborn would join a group of community members and from there a church would be born from land purchased from Mr. and Mrs. George and Edna Smith. The “Bethel Methodist Church” got its name from Mrs. Smith’s hometown in Illinoi.
The church, now home to Taco Guild, was built on December 18th, 1893. The Bethel Methodist Church was vacated in 2012. Taco Guild opened in 2013.
Kline, a Phoenix native, has been with Taco Guild for two years.
“The owners were very sensitive to the fact it used to be a church when they first were coming in and doing the work, laying it out, figuring out what this could be,” Kline said.
The owners invited some of the congregation back before renovations began. “They asked them if there was anything they should or shouldn’t do,” Kline said. “They said it’s no longer our house it’s yours.”
Kline said many of the people of the congregation are frequent customers.
Luis Nava, executive chef since opening, said the landmark brings people in but the food makes them stay.
“They [customers] never expect a taco place to be built inside a church,” Nava said. “People come in here and ask to take pictures of the place and once they’re inside, they love our food and they love our drinks.”
Daniel Kraus, a resident of Phoenix described dining at Taco Guild as, “going to church on a Thursday.”
According to Kline, the restaurant is looking into starting a new series of “tequila dinners.” They plan to team up with a tequila connoisseur and pair food with tequila. Also, cook food with tequila. Guests will be able to purchase tickets to attend the nightly tequila dinners.