Los Carboncitos

Everything's better with bacon.

Los Carboncitos offers tacos and burritos, but the burritos are essentially larger alambres served loosely wrapped in a big tortilla, and the tacos (which include such offal options as cabeza and lengua, for the peasant-cuisine purists in the crowd) are relegated to the back page of the menu, alongside a long list of tortas. There are ham and beef tortas, vegetable tortas and a good-but-not-great Cuban made in the fashion of Mexican Cubanos everywhere outside of south Florida: with ham, pork cutlet and sandwich pickles. Most impressive is the Super Carboncito torta, which comes with marinated pork, bacon and chorizo -- basically half a pig.

Still, without the limes and four hot salsas brought to every table, some dishes might suffer from a lack of memorable flavor. The queso fundido has the same problem as queso fundido cooked by every kitchen trying to stay even vaguely traditional: Because it's made with melted Mexican cheese, even when delivered lava-hot, within two minutes it cools into a hunk of rubber about the consistency of a cheap dog toy. A good, though corrupt, fundido corrects this by adding chèvre or goat cheese -- but Mexicans are not a people known for their soft cheeses.

Balancing such disappointments are the kitchen's namesake carboncitos: meat plus cheese plus veggies, scrambled together on the flat grill and mounded on top of fried tortillas slathered with refritos, like a giant's order of nachos. They're an ugly food, but delicious -- a pure three- or four-ingredient creation that's the sort of thing real people would actually want to eat every day. If they're not busy eating huaraches, that is, a Mexican street staple not often seen this far north, but a favorite with late-night bar-and-club crowds sur de la frontera.

Los Carboncitos serves the sort of food people really 
want to eat. A lot.
Mark Manger
Los Carboncitos serves the sort of food people really want to eat. A lot.

Location Info


Los Carboncitos

3757 Pecos St.
Denver, CO 80211

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Northwest Denver

Los Carboncitos

15210 E. 6th Ave.
Aurora, CO 80011

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Aurora

Los Carboncitos

722 Sheridan Blvd.
Lakewood, CO 80214

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: West Denver Suburbs


3757 Pecos Street

Huevos rancheros: $5.50
Queso fundido: $4.50
Carboncitos: $5.25
Costilla Borracha: $8.50
Pechuga Borracha: $7.95
Huaraches: $4-$7
Torta Los Carboncitos: $6
Torta Cubana: $5.25

The name refers to the shape of the huarache -- like the sole of a sandal, its base made of soft, stretched corn masa, worked by hand and slightly thicker than normal. It's then thrown on the flat top, smeared with refried beans and topped with anything close at hand. Los Carboncitos offers more than a dozen varieties, everything from a nice mar y tierra surf-and-turf of steak and grilled shrimp (and bacon) sprinkled with slightly sour queso fresco, to one stacked with sliced pork and pork cutlet and bacon and onion and melted cheese.

In keeping with the hours (and condition) in which huaraches are traditionally consumed, Los Carboncitos serves until 1:30 in the morning on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, catering to the roving gangs of hungry night creatures and trickle-down hipsters cruising north Denver for a snack, catching the bar-hoppers who manage to escape before last call. The line works with admirable speed at these times, banging out plates ten at a clip. The only people who work faster than the cooks here are the waitresses, and the only people who work faster than the waitresses are the eaters -- the knots of teenagers and extended families, the lawyers and construction workers and (no lie) four-piece mariachi band in full costume that I spotted last week all devouring their meals with astonishing speed.

In essence, Los Carboncitos is a truck-stop diner after the American model, but with the short-order gestalt translated into Spanish and delivered with a sly sense of humor. Everything about the place -- from the decor to the menu to the cooks on the line -- is just a little more polished, a little cleaner, a little faster, a little better, than you'd expect.

And, of course, everything -- everything -- is better with bacon.

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