Jay Fox's Dining Guide
FOX: FROM MEXICO TO YOU WITH LOVE
“Women, melons, and cheese should be chosen by weight.” — Spanish proverb
CINCO DE MAYO, a time to pay homage to our neighbors from the south, those with the sun-drenched skin that brings us a unique cuisine to challenge our taste buds. It’s the day we honor the brave Mexican soldiers who, on May 5, 1862 at Puebla, Mexico, defeated a superior French invasion force. We celebrate the day with festivities and dine on an abundance of Mexican fare.
In honor of friends and family of Hispanic descent, most notably my roomie and current spouse, G, and her mother, The Cuda (first name, Bara) I thought I’d comment on muh favorite Mexican eateries. The list includes only those places that offer Mexican fare as their main offerings, not just a few items on their menu. And because I’m nice I’m not gonna say anything bad about any of ‘em… maybe. I ought to be nice once a year, doncha think? The list is alphabetical. All addresses are Denver unless it sez otherwise.
The mondongo, chunks of sautéed beef tenderloin with mushrooms, green peppers, and erotic — oops — exotic spices, and some vino, is one of their signature dishes. All the grub is delish. Try the chicken fajitas. Shucks, try all the grub. They’ve been doing it right since 1979. They got this green dessert…and this maavelous Champurrado.
An old fav for over twenty years, I’m there often cuz it’s only five minutes from the office and cuz the food and service are terrific. The burritos are extra yummy. Try the chicharron burrito. I think they may have the best soft chile rellenos in town. Some like ‘em hard, but I’m an old softy. Eh, not so funny. The website is almost brand new.
Some of the finest Mexican grub in town. Benny’s been here a month short of forever. The breakfast burrito is killer. Try the bacon, sausage, beef, chicken and kitchen sink combo. The shredded beef here is awsum. Service is very good and the website offers special promos. It’s open late most nites.
BLUE BONNET CAFE
Serving super Mexican fare for over 40 years — longer than G and I have been married ceptin G and I can’t agree on how many years. Or maybe it’s just how many good years. It’s all great, but you gonna wait for a table: George and I guarantee it. The Blue Bonnet chimi changa is the best deal in town, and it is NOT deep-fried. Comes with either chicken or grilled sirloin. Heck, it’s all good.
BREWERY BARS II, III & IV
Usta be you didn’t go at the end of the week cuz the green chili got hotter day by day. Now they’re so busy they make it every day and it’s hot every day. But it’s sooo good! You’ll wait in line unless you’re there b4 11:30 a.m. The rellenos are killer. There’s a number 2 and number 3 store but they all make the same great product. It’s just a mite hot for some folks but you can ask for the milder version. But the mild version is damn near hotter than anything else in town. Have a cold brew to cool it off. Check out their interesting history on line.
BUENOS AIRES PIZZERIA
The website sez “A taste of Argentina in Denver!” That, of course, assumes I want to taste something Argentinean. Not being particularly fond of pizza, I was pleased to note they serve other fare: Sangies (always a fav), empañadas and gelato. Now I luv all three of those foods, but have never seen them in the same restaurant. With or without pizza.
CAFE DEL SOL
Owned by a coupla Greeks, located in Lakewood, you wouldn’t think the Mexican food is any good. Not true. Primo value and superb food is the rule; this place is no exception. Great Mexican pizza. And in my humble opinion, a mighty fine burger. Arguably the best french fries in town. The Mexican fare? That’s the specialty of the house and it’s all great. They’ve been in business over 25 years so it’s gotta be good. Tell ‘em The Fox sencha.
Just kidding folks. But if you go, bring your own dinner. A dark chocolate Milky Way bar is always good. The house wine is fine as are the sopaipillas. Last time I was there, they served the food from the dishwashing room window. Yuk! Notice I even listed their website. Take the grandkids… once. Just think of the price of dinner as an admission to a truly fun place, but eat first. It’s a great show. Don’t believe the website when it sez, “Great Mexican food.” I’m not sure its even food, much less Mexican. Don’t know of anyone of Latino descent who would claim it as authentic.
This excellent Mexican eatery that I had never heard of two years ago is now one of our family favorites. The downtown store has been a fixture for years, altho impossible to get into during meal-time. The second store opened two summers ago on the north service road to 6th Avenue. With the full gamut of traditional fare, the carnitas here are unusual and wonderful; 28 secret ingredients. They prepare some of the best french fries in town and the Mexican pappas are yummy. Service is ultra-friendly and efficient. Shhh. Best flan anywhere.
The website still leads off with, “You’ll love our food… or it’s free.” Well, they’ve been serving great grub since 1982, so must be lotsa folks luv it. I sure do. Just cuz it’s in Commerce City ain’t no reason not to go. Try the grilled pork chops, the posole or maybe the wondrous pork carnitas. Ever eat dessert in a Mexican restaurant? Most serve very little if anything, but here dessert is the tradition. Go for the chimi ala mode.
Always busy, the grub is super yummy. The menu is huge. Lots of seafood dishes cuz it’s the specialty of the house. The carne adobada is fab. Service is fast and efficient. You can have your car hand-washed across the street at Alexander’s Hand Car Wash for a moderate fee while dining. They do a terrific job. I’m there most every Saturday.
Tucked away along South Broadway, a block north of Hampden Avenue, you’ll find this maavelous Mexican eatery that opens at 7 am daily. I thought I had a way with words but I couldn’t say it as well as the following off the net. “Been eating there since 1983. This is the only restarant (sic) in Denver that I actually MUST eat at every two weeks or so or I get cranky. Shredded beef is THE BEST I have had. Green chile could cause world peace. Why fight — just eat. Salsa so good your nose may bleed — but in a good way. Same people have been running, cooking and serving this place since forever.”
I gotta agree with everything the writer sed. He didn’t mention the service which is fast, friendly and efficient.
Thursday nite is mariachi nite, and the 192-piece orchestra (me exaggerate?) will blow your mind… and your ear drums if they get too close. The food is superb and service is first rate. They’ll even cook a steak to order and there’s lots of ‘em on the menu. Try the huge, stuffed dessert sopaipilla. Fast Eddie sez the margaritas are dandy. I’m into the steak chili rellenos and G can’t stay away from the carnitas. Nothing is over-cooked.
HOLLY INN WEST
While some think this is Americanized Mexican fare, I find it authentic, and besides, I luv the marinated spicy shredded taquerito. Portions are large and the margaritas are tasty. Salsa varies from mild to hot depending on what the cook sipped on. The sign now sez La Fonda de Asebo but it’s the same great grub. The names might confuse you but the food won’t. It’s been that way for over forty years.
JACK ‘N’ GRILL
Having arrived from Albuquerque a dozen plus years ago, Jack and Anna Martinez get rave reviews from one and all. I don’t know where to begin cuz all the grub is great. The Rocky Mountain News (RIP) even listed their bugger (yep, buggers in a Mexican joint) in the Top Ten in Denver. But the green chili is so good I don’t have a bugger. Well, not all the time. I usually order two or three lunches and take most of it to go. They have a second location now on Prince and Belleview, but I don’t hear good about that store. They recently opened a third store at 9310 Sheridan Blvd in Westminster. Ain’t heard nuttin.’
The first store is a small but very popular eatery in an unappealing building since 1990. The second store opened some years ago on that street where the numbers are all screwed up, in the mall just north of the Tamarac exit off of I-225. But the kitchen and staff are definitely not screwed up cuz they serve great grub in a fast and efficient mode. The latest store is in Thornton. Check em all out.
One of six, soon to be seven locations that famed chef Richard Sandoval operates in Denver. There are two La Sandia’s, one of which is located in Northfield Center off of Quebec, and the other store at Park Ghetto. This upscale eatery has some of the most unusual Mexican fare not found elsewhere in Colorado. If you love Tamayo, you’ll love this place as well. The dude even has a store in Dubai. Every store he owns is popular and unusual.
Lola’s cuisine comes from the regions of Oaxaca, Yucatan, Baja, Veracruz and the Northern Pacific Coast. With their kitchen mantra, “somos artesanos,” (we are craftsmen) the chefs serve many traditional types of true Mexican fare such as hand rolled tortillas, house made chorizo, and tamales. The dishes are anything but subtle and use smoke, spice, chiles, charring and roasting to create the bold flavors that reflect the spirit and culture of Mexican cooking.
Try some of their unusual dishes: scallop plancha, chicken thighs confit, or maybe a tequila-cured salmon. The menu drives you crazy but it’s the flavors that will bring you back again and again. The restaurant serves dinner only and brunch on weekends.
LOS DOS POTRILLOS
On my first visit, the purple booths scared me, but the first bite of a chile relleno told me that I was home. One of the very best shredded beef burritos in town: nice and spicy. The website is kinda screwy, wants your address to send you to the closest store, but there are only two. Don’t make sense to me but each to his own.
RED TANGO – BISTRO LATINO
A set of cozy rooms, white linen napkins and some of the friendliest service in town almost makes this a fine eatery. But it’s the grub that completes the deal. The menu is different from most eateries. Cheese empanadas, ceviche, fresh salmon, roast pork, empanadas and a variety of other dishes show off the talent of the chef-owners. No website yet, but it’s under development. Again. For the third year in a row.
This place is hot stuff! Fabulous french fries smothered with green chili, super tamales and lots more. This is a great addition to the Mexican dining scene. Menu is huge. Great soups. Even the chips and salsa are yummy.
Fantastic shredded beef and shredded chicken burritos smothered red or green. The ultra popular chili rellenos are as good as any in town and you can have them soft or crispy. Watch out for the hot chili. It’s HOT. Check out the fab Burrito Pablano. Owners Juan and Josie Tafoya still watch over the staff – even when they’re hiding out of town. The Shadow knows…
The menu here is upscale Southwestern fare. The place is always packed. They offer lots of fresh seafood and other elegant fare. The guacamole is the best I’ve had, as are the house-made chips that accompany them. One of many Richard Sandoval’s modern Mexican restaurants – I guess that’s where the website name came from. Duh? I’m not just any dummy.
The salsa is zippy, the communication is tuff cuz English is not spoken here very often, but the food and service are very good. The pork chops are killer, the tacos al carbon is excellent, and all the tacos and burritos are excellent. A good place to try out your Spanish. Haven’t been in a while, gotta get back there for the Milanese con papas.
SOME OLD FAVORITES are gone from the list cuz I ain’t been in a while and I don’t hear anything about ‘em and there are too many new ones that need to be mentioned. I noticed that I raved about the chili rellenos at a number of restaurants. I didn’t realize I like them at that many eateries. Why don’t you send me your fav, and tell me if you like soft or crispy – I’m a soft fella myself. If I left out your favorite, drop me a line; send me a bill of fare. Tell me what you like and what you don’t like. But most of all enjoy the festivities of this grand day. Tenga un gran día!
El Señor Fox es el crítico gastronómico del Colorado Estadista. Le encanta la comida mexicano.