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And then an enormous pile of tacos arrived.

Morrison calls every taco on his menu a street taco, but they range in complexity and creativity from the classics — such as carnitas and carne asada — to interesting twists on tradition, including a surf-and-turf version that combines fried shrimp and tongue. That night, the carne asada tacos were a disappointment; the beef was tough, devoid of juice and flavor beyond a sort of abrasiveness left by the dry rub; there was no tang of iron, no charred flecks from the grill. They didn't come close to matching many of the asada tacos I've had on the streets of this city. (I've been similarly disappointed by the bland carnitas.)

But Pinche more than made up for that blunder with the rest of our order. The pork-belly agridulce was downright decadent, with fat-laced slices of belly quivering on a pair of stacked tortillas, topped with crisp cabbage and cilantro- and citrus-spiked slaw, and served with a side of the braising juices. The whole thing was at once sweet, sour and savory, every messy bite testifying to the wonderful marriage of pork and citrus. The surf and turf was just as triumphant, with crunchy, breaded and fried shrimp providing an awesome contrast to the soft, slippery cubes of beef tongue under more avocado and cilantro. And I'm a sucker for the pollo a la crema here. This time, the perfectly braised chicken was drowning in a smoky, spicy chipotle cream sauce; the delicious mess had been sprinkled with cotija cheese and finished with more sour cream.

Pinche Taqueria added margs – and whiskey – to the Pinche Tacos menu. See more photos: "In the kitchen at Pinche Taqueria."
Mark Manger
Pinche Taqueria added margs – and whiskey – to the Pinche Tacos menu. See more photos: "In the kitchen at Pinche Taqueria."

Location Info

Map

Pinche Taqueria

1514 York St.
Denver, CO 80206

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Central Denver

Details

Pinche Taqueria
Totopos y tres salsas $4
Queso fundido con chorizo $8
Guacamole and chips $6
Carnitas taco $2.95
Pollo a la crema taco $2.95
Rajas con crema y maiz taco $3.25
Pork belly agridulce taco $3.50
Surf and turf taco $4.50
1514 York Street
720-475-1337
Hours: 3-10 p.m. Monday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m-9 p.m. Sunday

We finished our binge-fest with my favorite taco on the menu: the rajas con crema and maiz, which takes strips of earthy poblano peppers, cooks them soft, then mixes in kernels of sweet corn, salty bits of cotija cheese and sweet-tart sour cream. The combination is balanced and surprisingly palate-cleansing.

One advantage of being crammed alongside other diners at Pinche Taqueria is that you can stop them from making grave ordering errors. Near the end of this meal, we overheard the couple next to us haggling over whether to order the churros. In my good deed for the day, I saved them from what could have been a lifetime of fried-food-related regret by leaning over and telling them to order them immediately.

Because the churros here are transcendent. They come stacked like a little log cabin of sugar- and cinnamon-coated sticks of dough, hot from the fryer, so crisp they're brittle on the outside and hot, dense but fluffy, bready and sweet inside. You dip each in a teacup of rich, creamy hot chocolate. And then you double dip. And then at the end, you drink the rest of the chocolate without shame — because there are people erroneously forgoing dessert all over the city, and you can't let it go to waste. At least, that's how I eat the churros at Pinche Taqueria.

This place is pinche good.

More photos: In the kitchen at Pinche Taqueria

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5 comments
Davelovelace
Davelovelace

$2.95 for a carnitas taco? Sorry. I'll get something twice as good for half the price up on Federal.

steveville
steveville

"Pinche" also means "kitchen boy". The kitchen boy is the guy who cleans up the chef's mess, carries stuff around the kitchen, does the stocking, etc. I think this is the meaning used in the name of the restaurant.

mnicklasson
mnicklasson

@steveville ...thanks...I'm sure you're right.  Couldn't be any double meaning going on here.

 
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