Denver does a lot of foods well. We do steaks and potatoes out of historic, autonomic reflex. We do burgers because a man can’t eat porterhouse every day and live long at it. We do sushi because we happened to be the settling place for a handful of sashimi savants, and Vietnamese food because we were fortunate enough to have been a gathering place for those displaced by war and made hungry by the trip.
But Denver does Mexican food because we can’t not, because it is integral to who we are in the West and what we love. If Denver has a cohesive soul anywhere inside its stone-and-iron body, the core of our collective psyche wears a sombrero. When it feels like getting out and about, it drives a chopped and custom lowrider. And when it eats, it has a flood of carnitas, tacos and chicken burritos flowing through it -- a spangled and bean-smeared tapestry of mutt cuisine that ties borders in knots and passes like a coyote invisibly back and forth across them.
Colorado Mexican is not Mexican-Mexican. Colorado Mexican is regular Mexican with two shots of tequila on top and a chile pepper stuffed with cheese. It’s a Tex-Mex sizzle platter of fajitas trailing steam through the dining room. As Irish cuisine is one of siege and sorrow and penury, Colorado Mexican is one almost exclusively of celebration: Saturday night tacos and Sunday morning menudo, breakfast burritos to greet the day and margaritas to rejoice in its close. And we are incredibly goddamn fortunate that, in many of this city’s best neighborhoods, you can’t walk blindfolded for fifty yards without stumbling through the front door of some taqueria or other, tripping and falling face-first into a plate of carne asada. God knows I’ve done it often enough. Sometimes without even the blindfold as an excuse.
And one of the places that does mutt Colorado-Mexican better than most? Tacos Jalisco, which I review this week, in the paper that hits the stands just before the DNC packs its bags and jumps a jumbo for points elsewhere -- which, to my mind, is a perfect excuse to celebrate with a little Colorado comfort.
Also this week: still more news from the Master family, still more blathering from me about Denver’s new boom in French cuisine, and a fast peek at Denver’s newest contender in the Cheeseburger Wars.
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SHOW ME HOW
I know that if you’re anything like me, all you can think about right now is the convention and getting a peek at Keith Olberman doing his thing behind Union Station. But sooner or later, you’re going to want to hear about something other than Hillary supporters and Obama’s plans for greening your Hummer. And when you do? I’ll be there for you. First taco’s on me. -- Jason Sheehan