Best Mexican Mexican - 2003
El Taco de México
For decades, El Taco de México has been the place to go in Denver for a real taste of Old Mexico. It's a gathering place for the Spanish-speaking community, an after-church destination for big bowls of menudo, a hot spot for wasted musicians looking for some quick grub after the gig, and a jumping lunch joint that attracts a generous cross-section of Denver diners. The big menu, which runs the whole length of the long counter, details offerings as tame as tacos al carbón and chicken fajitas, but also offers some peasant classics like the aforementioned menudo (an excellent version, thick and spicy and served with a half-dozen sides in tiny three-footed bowls), and tacos made with cheek meat and brains. The small army of deadly serious ladies working in the big, open kitchen pound out hundreds of hot, solid meals a day using spice mixes, recipes, mops and marinades straight out of an abuelita's playbook. This stuff puts the Mark Millers and Bobby Flays of the world to shame, and it's as close as you're gonna get to authentic Mexican cuisine without crossing international borders.