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Martin Villegas, who took over ownership of Taco Mex six years ago (he has a second spot at 92nd and Pecos), usually sets up the pastor tent at night and on weekends; during weekdays, it's often packed away, leaving rainbow-swirled pools of grease in its stead. That's when your best bet is the breakfast burrito: a lard-infused flour tortilla wrapped around a dense mix of scrambled eggs, finely chopped crispy potatoes and a massive portion of meat (I usually go with the spicy sausage). Topped with green chile, this burrito is exceptionally peppery and porky, and just the thing to fight the physical reminder of a night of bad decisions. Other items prepared indoors are more disappointing: The horchata, for example, definitely needs more cinnamon.

I timed a return visit — this one with a group of friends — for an evening when we knew the outdoor kitchen would be smoking. While I went inside to order up a feast, my friends grabbed a picnic table and loaded it up with items from the salsa bar — more radishes, onions, pickled jalapeños. We ate some as appetizers and loaded the rest onto a few rounds of those incredible streetside tacos.

We were just wiping our fingers free of grease when a cashier delivered a stack of Styrofoam packages filled with the rest of our order. The refried beans in the burrito were heavy with lard, as was the tortilla surrounding them — but the green chile that smothered this monster was surprisingly mild, thick with pork but lacking in jalapeños. The chile relleno — a sweet, earthy roasted pepper oozing gooey white cheddar and Jack cheese — was drowning in that same dull chile. We pushed aside both dishes in favor of the gorditas, fat corn cakes that sandwiched a variety of fillings. I'd expected the chicharrón to be the best, but the puffs of deep-fried pork skin had gone soggy under the sour cream, and oddly tasted like just so much more wet cornmeal. The best version was stuffed with finely chopped longaniza, heavy with delicious orange grease and scorching with chiles, the heat mitigated by more sour cream and cheese.

The al pastor tent outside of Taco Mex is just beginning to cook.
mark manger
The al pastor tent outside of Taco Mex is just beginning to cook.

Location Info

Map

Taco Mex

7840 E. Colfax Ave.
Denver, CO 80220

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: East Denver

Details

Taco Mex
One taco $.99
Breakfast burrito $4
Menudo $6.50
Gordita $2
Smothered burrito $5.50
7840 East Colfax Avenue
303-394-7555
Hours: 8 a.m.-midnight daily

Our voracious hunger finally met its match with the menudo. The broth was sticky with collagen, so thick with rust-hued chiles that it coated our plastic silverware with an oily sheen and hid the pieces of spongey tripe and stomach within. The dish was rich enough to give me a side stitch after three bites, but the flavor was addictive. The intense mix of salt, spice and fat would be just the thing to kill a hangover the Mexican way, coating your stomach, replacing lost electrolytes and making you sweat out residual alcohol.

Our night was just starting, though, so we abandoned the morning-after soup in favor of watching the sun set over colorful Colfax.

And before we left Taco Mex, I grabbed another order of tacos to go.

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51 comments
Tacofat
Tacofat

Yo soy un esoecialista en tacos, y quiero suguerirles que la carne no la sirvan mas alla de dos dias, pq pierde Su sabor, y agarra un insipido sabor, segunda por favor hacer Lo mismo con el suadero pues Lo tienen ahi en el comal por no se cuantos dias. ( ovio no en el comal sino , Lo congelan y descongelan) pueden usar in dresing para recalentar la carne Asda u que no pierda Su sabor.. Suerte

Denver On a Spit
Denver On a Spit

Just to set the record straight, "traditional" pastor does not include grilling canned pineapples with the meat. Pineapple should be fresh and if not placed on top of the spit (as they do at Acapulco) at least laid on top of the taco meat after the meat is cooked. I agree that the experience is relatively "authentic" at Taco Mex but the pastor itself is average. Maybe you hit Acapulco on a bad day, or me on many good days, but overall the pastor their -- albeit made under a Salvadorenan ownership-- is superior to Taco Mex.

Lynnettesouthwood
Lynnettesouthwood

I have had questionable objects in my food twice at Taco Mex; hair and plastic wrapping. I will never eat there again...

GeoffLebowski
GeoffLebowski

@ aherna : the reviewer is an idiot. Her copy is always full of cultural mistakes even though she likes to pass herself off as traveled she does the exact opposite.

aherna
aherna

the reviewer refers to a pupusa competition between neighboring salvadoran and peruvian restaurants at the extreme end of east colfax. however, i don't believe pupusas are common in peru. the reviewer must be thinking of the arepa, which is similar to el salvador's pupusa, but has different variations in both venezuela and colombia. the east end of east colfax in denver does have interesting spots to eat. there are good joints for mexican and salvadoran dishes and there have been decent spots to eat honduran, colombian and dominican food in the past.

Greendaisy
Greendaisy

Taco Mex is awesome, so is Pisco Sour (Peruvian) down the street...East Colfax has a lot of great & underrated restaurants...

Kenny Lay
Kenny Lay

Alex I'll take "it seemed like a good sentence at the time" for $1000

"so velvety with fat it practically dripped down my throat"

Mark Cohen
Mark Cohen

A rarity? Tons of places offer al pastor in Denver (La Abeja on Colfax, various South Federal and East Colfax taco trucks, etc.)

Tacofat
Tacofat

Tambien los de pastor les falta sabor y pina. , los de chorizo estaban muy secos, parecian de soya. Cambien por uno mas jugoso y con mas chile colorado.

Laura Shunk
Laura Shunk

Thanks, you're absolutely right -- I accidentally cut the arepa reference and didn't notice until I saw your comment.

Nick Lucchesi
Nick Lucchesi

Mark, the erroneous headline -- it since has been changed and will be reflected momentarily on the live site -- is my fault.

Nick LucchesiWeb Editor303-293-3564

 
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