Cinco de Mayo kicked off a couple of days early in Denver, so a Saturday that also featured the finest two minutes in American sports, the Kentucky Derby, was a fitting time to make brunch a Mexican affair. It was a good thing the Uptown outpost of Marg’s World Taco Bistro (there are three in Denver) was sparsely populated on an early May visit, because my friends — a group of more than 20 — and I needed all of that extra space to accommodate the most elaborate and unwieldy hats we could find as we maneuvered awkwardly in our Derby outfits (costumes, really).
Marg's welcomes you with a soothing olive green color scheme, dramatic floral chandelier balls, oversized booths, a few Dia de Los Muertos pieces on the walls, and similarly themed murals to complete the motif. Despite the size of our group and the prime brunch hour at which we rolled in, the host had no problem seating us. Major win if you’re someone who travels with a huge crew in tow. Roll deep with the posse and rest assured Marg's will be able to accommodate everyone (although calling ahead never hurts).
While the Bloody Marys (bottomless for $11 or one for $5), lacked complexity, fancy garnishes and crazy mixers, they got the job done. Sometimes, a simple tomato base that’s not too spicy and a solitary lime wedge is preferable — symbolically cutting the excess out of my life (if we’re going to get deep over cocktails). Most of the group was on the mimosa train though, which was a steal at $9.99 for all you can drink.
Despite a small menu, everything is reasonably priced at less than $10 per dish. And with so many brunch choices these days, it can be refreshing to only have a few options from which to pick; Marg's boiled them down to four Mexican dishes and a few American plates with Latin American twists, like pancakes with agave butter and bacon and eggs served with hand-pressed tortillas.
But it would be a shame to miss out on the kitchen's traditional Mexican breakfast plates; the huevos rancheros were a standout — a messy mosaic of queso, homemade pico de gallo and green chile that actually came with runny fried eggs (without having to ask), making for a deliciously sloppy mix of sauces (can one ever have too many sauces?) and yolk perfect for fueling a day of drinking.
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After less than gracefully sopping up the pork, black beans and other accoutrements with the soft tortilla base, I moved on to conquer the breakfast burrito we were also sharing. Dense with roasted potatoes, chorizo, bacon and a thick patty of scrambled eggs, the burrito was filling and meaty, smothered and sauced in green chile for added sustenance.
The huevos rancheros and breakfast burritos were flavorful yet mild, but only true spice lovers should attempt the chilaquiles. The menu claimed that the beautiful, rich red presentation was a combination of pepper sauce and salsa, but it tasted more like a thick, smoky mole with a strong, slow, ever-present burn that needed rice, a tostada shell, a fried egg, and multiple glasses of water begin to satiate the fire on my tongue. I'm a baby when it comes to heat, so I threw in the towel on that one, not because it wasn't good, but because I couldn't bear the idea of filling up on water with a Derby party ahead of me — you've gotta save room for a mint julep or five, right?