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Sun Set

You could get burned by the wrong El Señor Sol.

But then, we never found the front-of-the-house staff at this El Señor Sol to be anything but useless. One time we pointed out to a server that she'd forgotten a dish we'd ordered, and she said, "Okay," then proceeded to walk over to a row of dirty booths to clean them. Another time, after we pointed out to our server that we'd received the wrong dish, he looked at it intently, as though it might turn into the right dish before his very eyes, then said, "Sorry" and disappeared into the kitchen. And I do mean disappeared, because we never saw him again. A different server brought our check.

But while all of our experiences at that El Señor Sol were dreary, all of my meals at the original Villa del Sol have been sunny. The first time we tried this restaurant, we stumbled in half-starved and were greeted by dozens of cheerful, smiley sun faces painted on the backs of brightly colored chairs, as well as the cheerful smiley faces of servers who knew their jobs. The same funky banners hung overhead, and the menu looked identical to that of El Señor Sol, but the food here was light years ahead: crispy, golden-shelled chimichangas fat with well-seasoned, slightly spicy shredded beef, served with fresh guacamole and sour cream; a plate of house-made tamales -- rich, smooth-textured and studded with vegetables -- that arrived steamy and smothered in a good, gravylike green chile; and huevos rancheros that may have sported overdone eggs (we'd asked for them over-medium, and they were cooked through) but came smothered in that good green, heavy with tomato chunks and big pieces of tender pork and boasting a healthy jalapeño bite. The best part of that meal, though, was the shrimp cocktail: a bowl filled with properly cooked shrimp, plenty of fresh avocado chunks, and a broth that was part salty tomato and part grapefruity citrus -- a nice touch.

On a return to Villa del Sol, we replicated an order we'd made at El Señor Sol. This time we were rewarded with well-stuffed enchiladas and carefully battered chiles rellenos that used quality poblanos and oozed cheese that tasted like cheese. And here the tacos al carbón were perfect: good-quality ribeye, chopped and fried with tomatoes and onions, along with fresh avocado and a colorful jalapeño pico de gallo. (I'd awarded these tacos a Best of Denver award in June and was happy to see that they're still a winner.) I also stopped by Golden's El Señor Sol on two occasions; the food there was just as praiseworthy, and the atmosphere was even more festive.

Unlike its Denver counterpart, the El Señor Sol in Golden gives diners something to smile about.
Q Crutchfield
Unlike its Denver counterpart, the El Señor Sol in Golden gives diners something to smile about.

Location Info

Map

Villa Del Sol Mexican Food

6026 W. Alameda Ave.
Lakewood, CO 80226-3537

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Southwest Denver

Details

Villa del Sol
Chimichangas...$7.35
Tamales...$5.95
Huevos rancheros...$4.95
Shrimp cocktail...$8.95
Enchiladas...$6.45
Chiles rellenos...$6.75
Tacos al carbon...$7.95

6026 West Alameda Avenue, Lakewood
303-922-7570
Hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday; 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday; 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday.

El Señor Sol
15900 West Colfax Avenue, Golden
303-384-3578
Hours: 10-9 Sunday-Thursday; 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday; 10:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Saturday.

303-333-6223
Hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday; 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday; 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday.

Closed location

Compared to the other links in the chain, the East Colfax El Señor Sol is a poor relation - a very poor relation. These eateries are as different as night and day. But if Duran doesn't want to see the sun set on his restaurant empire, he has some work ahead of him.

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