It may be Halloween, but today also marks the opening (finally!) of Pinche Taqueria, Kevin Morrison's taco-hustling brick-and-mortar -- the follow-up to his taco wagon, which was one of the first mobile street food slingers to hit the streets of Denver.
"We loved the response that we got from the public when we rolled out the taco wagon," says Morrison, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Nancy. "People would always come up to us and ask, 'Where's your restaurant?' plus we wanted to incorporate tequila and whiskey into what we were doing, and we could only do that if we opened a restaurant," he adds.
The 1,400 square-foot space, housed in a historic, red brick building originally occupied by a hotel -- and most recently, Colorado Free University -- showcases reclaimed wooden tables, three of which are communal; weathered hard wood floors; mosaic glass pillars; a bar that seats eight; exposed brick; and an open kitchen, from which Morrison and his staff are hustling a dozen different street tacos, along with chips and salsas, shrimp cocktail, guacamole, queso fundido, and numerous breakfast/brunch dishes, including hash, chicken and waffles and tortas.
"The menu is designed for grazing, and while the emphasis is still on tacos," notes Morrison, "we're doing several other dishes and seasonal specials that use ingredients native to Mexico -- but with modern twists." And the cocktail program -- impressive for a taqueria -- was designed by Johnny Ballen, owner of the now-closed Squeaky Bean (and, just in case you're wondering about Squeaky Bean, Ballen is this-close to inking a deal on a new space). "Johnny designed all of our specialty cocktails and chose all of our whiskeys and tequilas, most of which are small-batch, and he'll be here, behind the bar, until the Squeaky Bean opens," says Morrison.
Morrison, who will open Pinche Taqueria at 3 p.m. this afternoon, held a series of soft openings last week, and we were there to capture snaps of what he's serving.
If you go, here are the taqueria's future hours: Monday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Tuesday though Thursday from 11 a.m. to midnight; Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m.; and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Queso fundido with housemade yellow corn chips. Mexican shrimp cocktail. Crepes -- or Mexican pancakes, drizzled with dulche de leche and crowned with fresh berries. The Pinche hash: Smashed potato and caramelized onion cake topped with carnitas, draped with a roasted Serrano chile hollandaise sauce and plated with three eggs and corn tortillas. Michelada, made with Del Norte lager and fresh lime juice and rimmed with celery salt, pepper and chili powder. Churros accompanied by a Mexican chocolate dipping sauce. Soft taco with scallops, a raw tomatillo sauce and Mexican crema. Griddled chorizo and fried potatoes with corn tortillas, pico di gallo and eggs. Pisco sour, concocted with fresh citrus juices, house syrup, egg white and Angostura bitters.