Chef Manuel (Manny) Barella is bringing Denver the kind of Mexican food he grew up eating in Monterrey. That means tacos loaded up with house-made chorizo, ribeye, Chihuahua cheese, and salsa verde, or the fungi-heavy mushroom al pastor with king trumpets and charred pineapple. The pro move is to go with friends and order the taco flight, where you get one each of the seven tacos on Bellota’s menu. Dining alone? Sure, you could narrow it down to two or three, but it’s not like your life is going to be worse for having seven delicious tacos in front of you.
Denver’s first pozoleria is not to be missed; especially because the long-simmered stews are created by James Beard Award finalist Jose Avila. The man knows his way around hominy and broth, but in addition to the five types of pozole (rojo, blanco, verde, negro, and vegan) the tacos and costras—griddled cheese “tortillas” wrapped around meaty fillings—are pretty darn comforting, too. Go super savory with the beef birria and bone barrow version, or tropical with the red snapper, pineapple butter, and citrus slaw taco or costra.
Yes, there’s definitely a lot for you to love about Dana Rodriguez’s (Work & Class, Super Mega Bien) Mexico City street food eatery if you’re hungry: Charcoal Tempura Cactus; Queso Fundido; Barbacoa Tacos; and Al Pastor Colorado Lamb. But perhaps more importantly, there’s a whole lot to love about Cantina Loca if you’re thirsty. Sip on the palomas and margs on draft. Feeling fancy? Order the tiki-ish Agua de Nopal with prickly pear, pineapple, and cachaca, or the Higo Borracho with fig-infused sotol (the Mexican spirit you should probably be drinking more of), amaro, and grapefruit liqueur. Whatever your mood, there’s a good, stiff drink to be had.
You’ll find solid tacos and burritos at this tiny Federal Boulevard strip mall spot, but what you should really be ordering are the harder-to-find Latin dishes. Take the excellent Seven Chile Mole, a velvety stew of chile, garlic, cumin, and more, served with your choice of meat or veggie, where every single note hits your palate in exactly the right spot. Or the Sweet Corn Tamales topped with crema fresca and salsa verde that bridge dinner and dessert. Because there’s so much more to Mexican food than tacos. (We still love you, tacos.)
The sister restaurant to the Culinary Creative Group’s Senor Bear in the Highlands, Mister Oso opened in November 2019 in the space formerly occupied by longtime favorite The Populist—and we all know what happened a few months later. But despite a challenging start, they’ve made it through on the power of their tacos loaded with smoked meats, fresh ceviches, agua frescas (with optional boozy additions), and playful happy hour bites like the popular Gordo Crunch.
Birria’s definitely not new, but it’s hard to deny its new popularity. And with rich, flavorful consomé, melty cheese, and tender, slow-cooked meat, it’s the level of comfort food we all need right now. Birria tacos can be found at several spots in the Mile High, but this food truck at 5256 N. Federal Blvd. takes birria to new levels. Birria Torta? They’ve got that. Birria Burrito? Yup, that’s the move if you’re ready to go really, really big. Birria Ramen? Oh yeah, they went there too. The truck opens at 11 am every day except Mondays and goes ‘til they sell out so don’t sleep (literally) on these.