There’s not really a Colorado “cuisine.” Denver and the rest of the state more or less simply combine the ingredients of other regions to form foods that we consider our own, such as green chile (stems from New Mexico) or the Denver Omelette. However, if there is one food Denver does well, one food that maybe we can call our “speciality,” one food that we can shove in the face of zealous pretentious coastal types, it’s tacos. Now I’m not saying we have the best tacos in the country, nor that we invented them, but we have some of the best. If you want one of Denver’s finest tortilla experiences, look no further than these four spots:
A local, hidden favorite, La Calle Taqueria y Carnitas serves up unapologetically delicious, authentic street-style tacos out of their Alameda Avenue location. Ordering food at La Calle is a lesson in taco culture appreciation. This isn’t your run of the mill taco bell, the options for food are exhaustive and authentic. The taco contents are more varied than your neighborhood Chipotle, with meats such as Tripa (tripe i.e. cow stomach), Al Pastor (Gyro style pork), Carnitas, Carne Asada and Lengua (beef tongue). You can get five street tacos for around $7, and there is an insane amount of options for customization, with a large amount of toppings and salsas available.
Located in the historical hispanic north Denver, Taqueria La Familia provides delicious, authentic tacos in their cozy, friendly establishment. Find yourself enthralled in the greatness of complimentary chips and salsa, delicious burrito options (if tacos aren’t your thing), vegetarian options, gluten free options, maybe the best green chile in colorado, amazing Al Pastor tacos and salsa with pork in it. It’s delicious, authentic and cheap ($7.50 for three tacos) and deserves a visit immediately.
It’s all in the name, a simple location with a simple goal: great drinks and great tacos. Tacos, Tequila, Whiskey is a little more upscale than the other options, but it also offers some of the more interesting/unique options for taco creation in Denver. Options include: the Queso a la Plancha (griddled cotija cheese, avocado, roasted tomatillo salsa, lime $3.25), the Pollo Agave (agave-dipped fried chicken, slaw, Mexican “chimichurri” $3.75) or the Pescado (chipotle & beer-battered fish, slaw, avocado & pineapple guacamole, pickled red onions, lime $3.75). Add $2 happy hour Mexican beers to the equation and you have a can’t miss taco shop.
Alright so Torchy’s Tacos isn’t a nice, local family owned spot like the other illustrious taco establishments on this list, but it is without a doubt the best “chain” option for tacos in the city. Torchy’s started in Texas but since then has expanded to multiple locations in Oklahoma and Colorado. The Torchy’s on South Broadway is probably the best of the bunch and offers a wide array of delicious taco choices.
For instance, there’s the Democrat ($4.00 ea): shredded beef barbacoa topped with fresh avocado, queso fresco, cilantro, onions and a wedge of lime all served on a corn tortilla with fresh tomatillo salsa. Other options combine less thought-of as “normal” taco ingredients, such as the Brushfire ($3.75) with Jamaican jerk chicken, grilled jalapenos, sour cream and cilantro, served on a flour tortilla with diablo sauce.