Mexican in Denver
So I have just moved here (Denver) from Albuquerque and wow do I miss good new mexican food. I know I am probably out of luck on new mexican but any recs for good mexican or latin style cuisine. I have tried Mezcal and was very underwhelmed. I have heard good things about Limon but have not tried it yet. I live in the city park neighborhood. Thanks for the help. Buy the way if you have not been to cafe star on colfax it is a definite must.
Nice posts/suggestions all around. Either I've been here a while or I like Mexican food more than I let on...
My preferences for "authentic" and by that I mean emphasis on homemade, hearty, and consistent are the following:
1) Los Carboncitos - these guys are on 37th & Pecos. Mexico-city styled food where they make their own corn/flour tortillas, homemade horchata, and serve nopales which you do not get everywhere. When you sit at a table you're immediately greeted with four fresh salsas of increasing heat - no chips. The salsas are condiments like s&p for the rest of your meal. But they will give you some fresh, hot tortillas if you want to dip them in the salsas to try. I recommend any alambre meal. Oh, and NO yellow cheese here, they use a variety of Mexican cheeses, most notably queso fresco.
2) El Taco de Mexico (7th & Santa Fe) - cheapest bet and one of the tastiest. El Taco is a cash only ( i think) joint with a few booths and a diner-style booth sitting area where you can watch the action of the cooks. All of the cooks there are ladies, it's like having your Aunt Guadalupe cooking for you. I recommend their tongue tacos. I promise, if you've never had it, you will love it.
3) Tacos Jalisco (38th & Tennyson) - mostly for their soups. They have a killer posole with tender pork, hominy, and lots and lots of veggies. Yet another restaurant that greets you with their selection of signature salsas.
Where I do not like for a variety of reasons, mostly because they are overrated and/or just not good!
1) Benny's - institution. it's just okay. but if you go, get their sopapillas.
2) Taqueria Patzecuaro - you'll find great reviews on Citysearch for this one, but I don't know why. Friendly service, but really uninspired comfort food. Bad sopapillas.
3) Mezcal - absolutely overrated. Have great ambience and decent drink specials but their food is flavorless and no thought is put into it. It was good back when it first opened, but now it rides high on reputation, not food.
And, yes, Cafe Star is such a good, consistent place. I work near there so when I have lunch there it's always a treat!
First time to this, but I'll jump in with my two cents...
There used to be a place downtown called the "Sage Southwestern". Cafe Berlin now resides in it's place. The Sage started out in Old Englewood in a little house. Their chili was unusual to Colorado tastes - ground beef, chunks of potatoes in a broth with pieces of green chiles. My wife and I always had good meals there. Not sure if they're still around though...anybody know?
As far as a more traditional Mexican green chile, I like Las Delicias quite a bit. They've been rated one of the top 50 Mexican restaurants in the country, and have 4-5 location in and around Denver. Not the trendiest place, but always good food.
A lot of people tell me they enjoy Hacienda Colorado, but in my opinion it's kind of watered down and way to mainstream 'americanized' food.
Santiago's, with numerous locations mostly on the North end of the city bills itself as having the hottest green chili around. My lips were numb when I tried the spicy...if hot is not to your taste, they also have a mild and medium chile. Again, I'm more inclined to the cheap, family owned sort of places, and DO enjoy Santiago's quite a bit. They've got a good breakfast burrito that I'll stop in and grab for $2 on my way to work.
Original Chubby's on 104th just West of I-25 has good green chili, but I stopped going there about a year ago, as the place became a little too divey (dirty), even for me.
Local mini-chain Hacienda Colorado's green chile is bland. They list on their menu that they will make it as spicy as you like, but according to the waitstaff, that is a fallacy. You will never get it hot, trust me. I've begged. I do like their chile rellenos okay. The location in the DTC seems to have better management than the one in Westminster.
Please note that my pain receptors are possibly damaged. If you are like the new food critic at the Camera who indicates she doesn't like "spicy Latin food" and complains about the mildest level of spice at a Thai place, then you might really enjoy Hacienda's offerings.
You might try Jack-N-Grill on Federal (cash only). The owner Jack Martinez is from Albuquerque. Sometimes I just want a low-brow "goopy" cheese enchilada smothered in green chile (always request their hottest) at Santiago's, although the food the chile accompanies isn't quite as good as that at Efrain's on 63rd close to Arapahoe in Boulder, where I am forever stuck on ordering the costillas in green chile. I haven't had it in a very long time and it gets mixed reviews, but I used to work with a group that loved the gringo green chile at Brewery Bar II on Kalamath in Denver, and we used to have office outings to nab tamales for breakfast at La Popular on Lawrence (although I think I'm more partial to the buck tamales at La Casita in the Highlands near Parisi, a good Italian deli).
There are lots of places on Colfax and Federal. You could drive down either of those streets and find lots of joints to spontaneously pop into. You can groove into Tacos Y Salsas at Federal/Kentucky (newer and swankier than the one on E. Colfax), Tacos Jalisco on 38th, Pupusas Sabor Hispano on North Broadway in Boulder...There are lots of good recs on this board in older threads. Specifically, check out gastronaughty’s list in this thread
Tacos Y Salsas
El Original Sarape
El Taco de Mexico
And for higher-end, as aka_zoe mentioned, I've always liked Richard Sandoval's Tamayo on Larimer.
Even though their salsa is in a squeeze bottle and is nothing to write home about, I lap up the good-and-greasy fried steak tacos with avocado at Mexico City at Larimer and 21st. You get three for about 6 bucks.
Oh, and Limon that you mentioned is Peruvian and is quite good (depending on what floats your boat).
rlm - I completely forgot about La Popular! We used to go there once a week when I worked downtown... how the memory fades when not in use. I used to walk in the door and they would pack me up a pack of 10 without even asking and go and get the hot enchilada sauce for me. All the while catching up on the family's week. They do such an outstanding job. Thanks for reminding me!
You might want to try Little Anita's on Colorado Blvd and Florida. Its located in a very non-descript strip mall on the east side of the street. It's inbetween a Subway and a Tae Kwon Do studio. But they say they are "authentic New Mexican". I think it's terrific and it is my go to place for sopapillas and a good red chile over a cheese enchilada.
I am also very partial to La Cueva in Aurora on Colfax near the Fox Theater. Its authentic and very delicious. The owners are friends so I am very partial, I have to admit it with all honesty but they do a great job and you will leave a friend as well.
For upscale you can try Tamayo on Larimer Square downtown, they do a great tableside gaucamole. And on the same block there is a great place, that I like alot called Lime (you will need to go downstairs to get into the restaurant) and they have a location on 6th Avenue and Corona I think. Zengo gets raves and I have never been there, but its Mexican and Asian fusion and supposedly really works well.
Senior Pepe's on 14th and Poplar was a go to place for my family when we were growing up, its an institution and I remember it being pretty good. Tacos Jalisco on 38th and Federal is another institution.
El Taco De Mexico on 7th and Sante Fe is another very authentic and delicious option for traditional Mexican. Perhaps the best Horchata I have ever had. And it holds a very special place in my heart because its the first place I ever had sesos.
Great Mexican can be found!