Food & Drink

The 7 most important tacos in Denver

Published On 05/07/2014 Published On 05/07/2014
Best Tacos for Cinco de Mayo DEN
All Photos: Connor Green

Being in Denver, it's likely that you know your way around tortilla-based eats, but man cannot live on breakfast burritos alone. Enter the taco -- compact, cheap, portable, and always there when you need one. Denver has many fine examples, but which of them rise above the rest? Find the answer, seven times over, below:

The Spot: Los Carboncitos, Highland
The Taco: Spicy chorizo or al pastor
The Reason: Los Carboncitos translates (very roughly) to "b*tchin' tacos", and their spicy chorizo and sweet-yet-piquant al pastor are the crowd faves. In this case, the wisdom of the herd is on point. Do yourself a favor and go for a porcine double play.

The Spot: El Taco de Mexico, Lincoln Park
The Taco: Beef taco
The Reason: Ask, "What’s good?" and without hesitation, the lovely señoritas at Taco de Mexico will chime back with "beef tacos". Topped with green onions, cilantro, and a just-spicy-enough salsa, these little amigos will make you glad you didn’t question their taco authority.

The Spot: Tacos Rapidos, South Platte
The Taco: Carne asada
The Reason: Your late-late-night alternative to the Taco Bell drive-thru, Rapidos dishes out legit tacos (with 100% beef!). The carne asada is the move here, wrapped in canary yellow paper that is eerily Taco Bell-esque -- but the meaty hunks of steak are anything but.

The Spot: La Mexicana Taqueria, Highland
The Taco: Barbacoa
The Reason: Beef steamed until mind-blowingly tender and tossed onto a fresh tortilla with cilantro and onion is where it's at, and where it's at is at La Mexicana Taqueria.

The Spot: La Loma, Jefferson Park
The Taco: Tacos al carbon
The Reason: Your grandmother’s house was converted into a taco joint, and now dishes out seriously good Mexican eats like the tacos al carbon; sirloin strips sautĂ©ed with jalapeños and tomato salsa, then wrapped in a flour tortilla.

The Spot: Pinche Tacos, City Park
The Taco: Lengua
The Reason: For the Spanish-challenged, lengua means tongue. More specifically (and fortunately), cow tongue. Cooked close enough for you to to hear the sizzle, the lengua tacos are topped with avo, onion, cilantro, salsa, and a guajillo honey salsa (you might as well ask for extra right off the bat). You might think you don't like tongue. They'll prove you wrong.

The Spot: La Abeja, Capitol Hill
The Taco: Carnitas
The Reason: Spring cleaning has surely yielded some spare coin, and La Abeja is the perfect spot to spend your newfound couch money. No other taco here will satisfy like their onion-, cilantro-, and salsa verde-topped, slow-cooked carnitas.

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1. Los Carboncitos 3757 Pecos St, Denver, CO 80211 (Highland)

This taqueria is know for having super-solid spicy chorizo and al pastor tacos -- do yourself a favor and get yourself some of each.

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2. El Taco De Mexico 714 Santa Fe Dr, Denver, CO 80204 (Southwest)

This quintessential Mexican dive attracts everyone from local regulars, to out-of-town travelers to its diner-like space for the most authentic versions of all the Mexico City classics, like chilaquiles, tongue tacos, and smothered chile relleno burritos. There's not much more than few plastic booths indoors, but anything smothered in the fresh green chile is likely better enjoyed in the breezy outdoor patio.

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3. Tacos Rapidos 2800 W Evans Ave, Denver, CO 80219 (Southwest)

Tacos Rapidos is known for their carne asada tacos -- though once you've had a few of those bad boys, you should give the carne asada fries a try, and show up for a breakfast burrito the next morning when you realize you still haven't had enough.

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4. La Mexicana Taqueria 2538 W 32nd Ave, Denver, CO 80211 (Highland)

La Mexicana Taqueria keeps it as simple as its name -- head there for tender beef topped with cilantro and onion on a fresh tortilla, and enjoy.

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5. La Loma 2527 W 26th Ave, Denver, CO 80211 (Northwest)

La Loma is a quality spot if you're looking for quality Mexican food. Their expansive menu has featured original Mexi-options, including homemade tortillas, since they opened their doors in 1981.

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6. Pinche Taqueria 1514 York St, Denver, CO 80206 (City Park)

At Pinche Taqueria, great care is taken to create authentic Mexican food while injecting a modern spin that makes each bite memorable. And, on the outside chance that the food doesn't hook you, the small batch whiskey, tequila, and specialty cocktails will.

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7. La Abeja 508 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80203 (Uptown)

This Upper Colfax Mexican mainstay hosts $2 steak or carnitas tacos, plus a killer tomatillo salsa. While the spot itself may be a bit of a hole in the wall, what it lacks in decor, it makes up for in affordable, flavorful fare.