Best High-End Mexican (2003)


Mmm...botanas. If there's any better bar food than tapas, it's botanas -- the little bites and appetizers served with firewater all over Mexico proper. At Tamayo -- Richard Sandoval's upscale Larimer Square homage to the Mexican Riviera of his youth -- you can sample the flavors of Acapulco and beyond for free during the hora feliz (happy hour) that runs from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and then, emboldened by a couple of sharp nips at the fancy-pants margarita menu, dive deeper into this rich culinary territory with dinner. Tamayo is only expensive when compared with other Mexican restaurants in town, but with entrees running in the twenty-dollar range, some people tend to get spooked. Rather than pay two bucks for a squishy enchilada all glopped up with Cheez Whiz somewhere else, though, we'd rather save up our nickels and dimes for tacos de camarón, with shrimp sautéed in achiote paste and a black-bean puree, or the costilla de cordero -- rack of lamb, marinated in adobo and huitlacoche (a corn fungus that tastes much better than it sounds), then roasted and served with wild-mushroom risotto and sweet potatoes. Tamayo also does a wicked mahi-mahi ceviche, offers a three-course prix fixe lunch menu in under sixty minutes for $16.95, and puts out beautiful plates that would have done the late Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo (after whom both the Denver and Palm Beach locations were named) proud.


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