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Colorado Mexican Favorites


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In the denver/boulder meeting thread, conversation is veering towards Mexican food (right now, in East Boulder County). I think it deserves a thread of its own.

For straight-ahead Mex, try La Familia across the street from Santiago's. Best chile rellenos I've ever  had (and I grew up in Texas).

If you do want to try La Familia, call first (303-665-8592). They keep some strange hours.

Oh yeah, definitely. I've never been able to figure out the schedule. And the matrons that run the joint have never cracked a smile, even for my friends that have been regulars for a decade. But the rellenos are worth it. Some folks speak very highly of the chili verde too, but I prefer Efrain's.

Mexican food is a staple in Colorado (and no, it is not the same as Tex-Mex, or Cali-Mex, or Mex-Mex, or New Mexican).

What are your favorite places, from the gritty, grungy to the sublime? Not only the places you recommend when somebody asks for great Mexican, but the places you go for your everyday, convenient fix.

To add to the commentary of what's in Lafayette, Casa Alvarez has expanded from Boulder and now has a branch on Public Rd. a couple of blocks south of La Familia, Santiago's, and Efrains. The deli counter at the Albertson's supermarket in Lafayette stocks fresh Mexican style cheeses made locally at a dairy in Brush Colorado (the name of the dairy escapes me at the moment) and carries products such as crema fresca.

I ventured out to Erie the other day. (The main street is actually paved now.:shock:) I've been hearing good things about Casa de Mina. I went at lunch time, and the menu was fairly standard fare, so I finally settled for a burrito with carnitas, smothered. It was delicious, and huge, a bit more refined than a standard burrito; smothered with good hot chile, but not so out of the ordinary as to be worth a special trip ($6.95). I looked at the dinner menu, though, and the choices looked far more interesting, including a few different moles, fish, beef, chicken dishes beyond the standard burritos, enchiladas etc. It was more expensive than the standard Mexican as well, with prices for most choices ranging between about $10 and $18. The burrito I had at lunch was good enough that I do want to try dinner, to see if it might actually be worth the trek.

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La Panda II, on Main Street in Longmont, serves authentic Mexican-style tacos (as opposed to the crispy-shelled American versions). Carnitas, lengua, barbacoa, adobada, carne asada -- all the yummy taqueria specialties. Menudo on weekends, if you're one of those people. :raz: And they serve horchata!

There are now at least three tortillarias in Boulder, all of which sell a product that is superior to the grocery-store variety. Fluffy fresh flour tortillas, great stacks of warm corn tortillas. Tortillaria Rey is on Valmont just west of 30th, south side of the street. Las Americas Tortillaria is on north Broadway in the 4400 block. And there's one in the strip mall on 28th south of Valmont, tucked in betwee the Asian grocery and the Afghani's store (which sells excellent olive oil, but that's another thread).

"Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside." Mark Twain
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There's a tortilleria on Public Rd. in Lafayette as well, but I've had the disconcerting experience of getting warm, fluffy, moldy tortillas, and been charged different prices at different times, depending on who's taking my money.

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Not in Boulder/Denver area, but a great mexican restaurant that I have been to several times in Durango is:

Tequila's Mexican Restaurant

948 Main Ave., Durango, CO

259-7655

"Tequila's serves authentic Mexican food. Thanks to the support of visitors and locals, their authentic food and made-from-scratch margaritas are as popular as ever. Try one - made with Hornitas triple sec, orange Curacao and fresh-squeezed lime juice."

They have branches in Pagosa Springs and are apparently opening another soon in Steamboat Springs....

As mentioned in the quote; they make authentic margaritas with fresh lime juice. Also great moles and my perennial favorite there--chile verde. They have a large menu that includes many interesting regional mexican dishes including those with seafood. Always difficult to decide what to order.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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And there's one in the strip mall on 28th south of Valmont, tucked in betwee the Asian grocery and the Afghani's store (which sells excellent olive oil, but that's another thread).

Katzenjammy-

This Goat Meat thread includes some discussion about the strip mall.

Not in Boulder/Denver area, but a great mexican restaurant that I have been to several times in Durango...

ludja-

Thanks for posting this; I hope this thread will include all of Colorado, not just Denver/Boulder.

Edited by afoodnut (log)
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Moving into Denver, for me the standard has been set by El Taco de Mexico for many years. Soft tacos of many varieties (although I rarely get beyond the Al Pastor because it is so good) and the best chilequiles ever.

Fred Bramhall

A professor is one who talk's in someone else's sleep

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The burrito I had at lunch was good enough that I do want to try dinner, to see if it might actually be worth the trek.

Stephen and I had dinner there about a month ago, and loved it -- especially all of their salsas, which were unbelievably good. If we're all going to gather for another dinner, I highly recommend we convene there. I'm not sure, however, if they take reservations, but I would think it's a possibility for a large group.

edited to add I'm referring to Casa de Mina in Erie

Edited by pepperedpalate (log)

-Midson-

A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart, who looks at her watch

-James Beard-

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La Panda II, on Main Street in Longmont, serves authentic Mexican-style tacos (as opposed to the crispy-shelled American versions). Carnitas, lengua, barbacoa, adobada, carne asada -- all the yummy taqueria specialties. Menudo on weekends, if you're one of those people.  And they serve horchata!

There are now at least three tortillarias in Boulder, all of which sell a product that is superior to the grocery-store variety. Fluffy fresh flour tortillas, great stacks of warm corn tortillas. Tortillaria Rey is on Valmont just west of 30th, south side of the street. Las Americas Tortillaria is on north Broadway in the 4400 block. And there's one in the strip mall on 28th south of Valmont, tucked in betwee the Asian grocery and the Afghani's store (which sells excellent olive oil, but that's another thread).

Oh my god, I'm so with you on both La Panda II and Las Americas! I just wrote a "Longmont for Food lover's" story for Sunset, and after trying the fresh flour and corn tortillas at Las Americas, I don't see how I could ever purchase them elsewhere. The salsa was spectacular, too. And the tamales. I'm still swooning. They actually have two branches in Denver, which is great news to those of us who don't live near Longmont.

Other favorite Mexican joints of mine:

Tacos Y Salsas on East Colfax, especially for their soft corn tacos. Terrific salsa bar, as well.

El Mercadito on Federal and 32nd-ish. Both a taqueria and Mexican grocer.

Jack -n- Grill; not Mexican, but New Mexican with stellar posole, green chile, and that intoxicating corn in a cup doused with butter, hot sauce, Parmesan cheese, and lime juice.

-Lori

-Midson-

A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart, who looks at her watch

-James Beard-

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A cut and paste from Another thread:

or...if you want down and dirty, but extraordinary Mexican food in a setting that barely rises above a burger barn, then go to El Azteca on Federal and I don't know what the cross street is. It's about half a mile south of Hampden on Federal on the east side of the street.

I think it's near Belleview. and yes its good Mexican food.

colestove

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I've long been a fan of Taqueria Patzcuaro on 32nd near Zuni. In they're own rustic way they have more atmosphere than most mexican options in Denver, and were serving traditional soft corn tortilla tacos years before most others in Denver.

Fred Bramhall

A professor is one who talk's in someone else's sleep

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this may invite ridicule (probably well-deserved) but when we were driving here from los angeles late last summer we stopped at grand junction for mexican lunch--i think it was a chain: dos something or the other. anyway, i got a burrito with an incredibly hot, piquant habanero chili. i remember looking when we first got to boulder to see if there was an outpost near us but there didn't seem to be. now if i could only remember the name...anyone know what i'm talking about? actually, it was a little after grand junction and is visible off the i70.

Edited by mongo_jones (log)
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After living in Texas for four years and being spoiled, I admit that it's hard for me to get as excited about the Mexican food in Colorado. I miss having a million co-workers bring in their grandmother's tamales around the holidays. I miss the food at my friend Lupe's house. I miss running down to Laredo and drinking cheap beer on the roof of a building. So nothing's going to compare to that. :biggrin: Katzenjammy, being from Texas, you probably relate to this, no?

Call me crazy, but I do enjoy the Amazing Corn Tamales from the Boulder Farmer's Market dipped in a big pool of Cholula.

A co-worker picked up some tamales once from La Popular downtown and they were pretty good, but he made his own excellent green chile that really set it off.

Tacos Cazuelas De Fer (cart on the 16th Street Mall) has tiny soft corn tacos for a buck each--al pastor, chorizo, barbacoa, asada. I'm sure there are a bunch of no-frills places like this, but I haven't made it to enough of them yet. I still need to make it to Santiago's, afoodnut!

I was skeptical about that huge Hacienda Colorado mess way down south since I heard the guys that started it previously owned a bunch of Black Eyed Peas, but I was assured the only other one is in Lakewood and it had some good reviews. We had a great meal there (except for the annoying server with the wrap-around mike who thought she was being clever by constantly saying "holy guacamole"). The spicy green chile wasn't, but the food still had lots of flavor. Or maybe I just drank too much tequila.

There is a new downtown Denver place that I tried the other day on Blake called D'Corazon, but I can't recommend it. Maybe they're still working out the kinks, but I asked for the green chile made spicy so they just chopped up some RAW jalapenos and dumped them on top (it was bland underneath).

Some of the other places mentioned in this thread are intriguing. You've given me some more places to check out and I thank you.

“When I was dating and the wine list was presented to my male companion, I tried to ignore this unfortunate faux pas. But this practice still goes on…Closing note to all servers and sommeliers: please include women in wine selection. Okay?”--Alpana Singh, M.S.-"Alpana Pours"

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Tacos Cazuelas De Fer (cart on the 16th Street Mall) has tiny soft corn tacos for a buck each--al pastor, chorizo, barbacoa, asada. I'm sure there are a bunch of no-frills places like this, but I haven't made it to enough of them yet. I still need to make it to Santiago's, afoodnut!

Hey rlm, I work downtown so I was intrigued by your post...where is this cart, i.e. what cross street?

Brian Hoffmeyer

"It's like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black."

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Curtis.

“When I was dating and the wine list was presented to my male companion, I tried to ignore this unfortunate faux pas. But this practice still goes on…Closing note to all servers and sommeliers: please include women in wine selection. Okay?”--Alpana Singh, M.S.-"Alpana Pours"

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hey, afoodnut, I finally tried Santiago's in Lafayette. Thank you for the recommendation! I had the gooey cheese enchiladas smothered with the hot green chile. OH MY GOD. That was EXACTLY what I get in the mood for from time to time. The parking lot was...uh...entertaining to navigate and I'll have to remember to bring silverware next time (cutting enchiladas with plastic utensils in a styrofoam container requires more skill than I apparently have).

Ephrains was discussed before & the one on 63rd is on my list to try, but what about the other places nearby in Lafayette like Casa Alvarez or Rezzo? Any good?

“When I was dating and the wine list was presented to my male companion, I tried to ignore this unfortunate faux pas. But this practice still goes on…Closing note to all servers and sommeliers: please include women in wine selection. Okay?”--Alpana Singh, M.S.-"Alpana Pours"

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Ephrains was discussed before & the one on 63rd is on my list to try, but what about the other places nearby in Lafayette like Casa Alvarez or Rezzo? Any good?

Haven't been to Rezzo's yet, looks interesting.

Casa Alvarez is good. They've got great lamb enchiladas. They are listed as a special but they almost always have them. I'd say it is worth a try. The Boulder one is on John Lehndorff's Top of the Rocky Dining Guide (I think)

Brian Hoffmeyer

"It's like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black."

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Hey, afoodnut, I finally tried Santiago's in Lafayette. Thank you for the recommendation! I had the gooey cheese enchiladas smothered with the hot green chile. OH MY GOD. That was EXACTLY what I get in the mood for from time to time. The parking lot was...uh...entertaining to navigate and I'll have to remember to bring silverware next time (cutting enchiladas with plastic utensils in a styrofoam container requires more skill than I apparently have).

Ephrains was discussed before & the one on 63rd is on my list to try, but what about the other places nearby in Lafayette like Casa Alvarez or Rezzo? Any good?

Robin,

glad you enjoyed Santi's.... My favorite there is the Indian taco with carnitas and green chile. Casa Alvarez is reliably good, not exciting. It's not the gooey, cheesy style. I usually have the green chicken enchiladas (I don't remember what they call them). At Efrains (the Lafayette Efrains is the original location), I like the braised ribs in green chile. Efrains is often very crowded, and there can be a long wait. Rezzo is not Mexican, it's sort of Italianish. I haven't been yet. My daughter has been there for breakfast, and reported that it was "okay." Nothing to do with Mexican, but there's the new Taste of Nepal. My daughter and I went for the lunch buffet, and it was not memorably better or worse than any of the Indian lunch buffets around. Then we went for dinner with a bunch of vegetarians, and, ordering from the dinner menu, had a pretty good all vegetarian meal.

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Casa Alvarez is good. They've got great lamb enchiladas. They are listed as a special but they almost always have them. I'd say it is worth a try. The Boulder one is on John Lehndorff's Top of the Rocky Dining Guide (I think)

is the boulder one near the crossroads mall on 30th or something like that? we ate there once after a movie. so far it is the best mexican we've had in boulder--i remember the salsa was particularly good--but nothing outstanding. tonight we eat at another mexican place with one of our colleagues--don't know the name but it is on broadway at the extreme north end of town. i will report findings here.

we must drive out to this lafayette place robin's raving about too now.

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is the boulder one near the crossroads mall on 30th or something like that? we ate there once after a movie. so far it is the best mexican we've had in boulder--i remember the salsa was particularly good--but nothing outstanding. tonight we eat at another mexican place with one of our colleagues--don't know the name but it is on broadway at the extreme north end of town. i will report findings here.

we must drive out to this lafayette place robin's raving about too now.

The Boulder Casa Alvarez is the one at 30th and Walnut.

The Mexican place on N Broadway is probably the Terrace Maya. The food is usually decent enough. A couple of weeks ago I tried to go there for lunch with an artist friend who has just bought one of those new nearby condominiums for her studio; the music was blaring so loud that we couldn't talk or even sit comfortably...after mentioning it to the server, we tried moving to the outdoor patio; the puddles and general disorder were offputting; when we gave up and left without ordering, nobody working at the place seemed to care. We laughed and shrugged it off, and comforted each other with the thought that we're probably just being a couple of crotchety old ladies.

As for the lafayette place robin's raving about too now, this is what I said about it on the earlier, different thread:

I hope you don't expect too much. The food is in the heavy, cheesy style of Colorado Mexican, beloved by construction workers in the area. It's all about the green chile. The hot green chile is clear your sinuses hot. (The mild green chile is insipid; the medium, or 1/2 and 1/2 is just that: a combination of the mild and hot, and what I usually choose.) It's take out only. (There are a couple of grungy tables outside in the small, chaotic parking area.) So either take your food home, eat in your car, drive a mile to Waneka Lake and use a picnic table there, or call me and come eat at my kitchen table or in my garden.

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I nabbed a picnic table outside @ Santiago's and it wasn't too bad, although it would have been fun to eat at one of the stools in the ordering area and take in the sounds of Mexican rap music (too crowded though).

Ah, so Rezzo is Italian. I just spied it while driving around gawking in a post-hot-green-chile haze.

Still speaking of Lafayette, has anyone been to their wine festival that is coming up again in June? Go or Pass?

“When I was dating and the wine list was presented to my male companion, I tried to ignore this unfortunate faux pas. But this practice still goes on…Closing note to all servers and sommeliers: please include women in wine selection. Okay?”--Alpana Singh, M.S.-"Alpana Pours"

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The Mexican place on N Broadway is probably the Terrace Maya. The food is usually decent enough. A couple of weeks ago I tried to go there for lunch with an artist friend who has just bought one of those new nearby condominiums for her studio; the music was blaring so loud that we couldn't talk or even sit comfortably...after mentioning it to the server, we tried moving to the outdoor patio; the puddles and general disorder were offputting; when we gave up and left without ordering, nobody working at the place seemed to care. We laughed and shrugged it off, and comforted each other with the thought that we're probably just being a couple of crotchety old ladies.

yes, the place on friday night was indeed the terrace maya. i'll say this much for it: the part of town it is in (if it is indeed in town) is as close to a border area as boulder has, and there were some people in the bar inside who seemed to be playing the part. the restaurant itself was annoyingly loud and our waitress annoyingly incompetent. the food was less than inoffensive. i got the seafood enchiladas and they tasted like a tortilla rolled up with boiled shrimp and scallops inside it. and, of course, there was the usual adherence to the smother everything in a gallon of sauce approach. however, the salsa they put on the table was excellent! and i had a nice beer: the oasis scarab red that i mentioned on the beer forum.

perhaps i'm a crotchety old lady too but with the food not being close to remarkable the only reason i could see to go there again would be if i was in the dating pool or if i wanted a place i could take noisy kids to. i don't plan to be in either category any time soon.

i'm glad we went though if only because we drove by the only strip club we've seen in boulder to date. who knew boulder had a strip club--not terribly new age is it? but that's not where we went for our post-dinner drink. we went to a place off the pearl street mall called trilogy. a strange mix of downhome folks and kids dressed in black. the waitress couldn't remember what local beers they had so i got a guiness. it was way too chilled.

next stop for mexican: santiago's in lafayette

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