Cafe Society

Patzcuaro's caters to drinkers and sunshine-dwellers with authentic Mexican fare

Once he decided he truly wanted to be part of the neighborhood, Grant Gingerich abandoned his addled Swimclub32 concept and instead returned to the area's roots with a Mexican restaurant — albeit one in a tricked-out, contemporary form. It was a smart move, since this slice of northwest Denver has supported taquerias and menudo-slinging kitchens for years. Including Patzcuaro's, which has held down its spot on West 32nd Avenue since 1978, when Francisco Almanza opened his restaurant originally known as Taqueria Patzcuaro. Patzcuaro's is moderated for the neighborhood, too. It's named for a mountain town in Michoacán, a region whose cuisine is dominated by an indigenous Aztecan influence. But save for a couple of dishes — the Michoacán carnitas, for example, tender chunks of pork crisped up on the outside — the board is a blend of modern Mexican standards, with even Tex Mex-style enchiladas and nachos listed alongside tripe stew and tacos stuffed with pork stomach and beef cheeks.

Those beef-cheek tacos, though, are all kinds of just right: gelatinous pieces of fatty cow, slick with fat and laden with salt, piled on a feather-light corn tortilla and served with diced white onion, cilantro, zesty lime and smooth, slightly tart guacamole.

On a warm afternoon, I stopped by for an order of two cheek tacos, as well as a pair of carnitas tacos. Although I like the old booths in the original dining room, Patzcuaro's also has a new, bench-lined, secluded patio that's just the spot for enjoying another relatively recent addition: liquor, best exemplified by the jumbo margarita served in a heavy salt-rimmed goblet.

I'm glad that Patzcuaro's can now cater to both drinkers and sunshine-dwellers, but I most appreciate the attention it gives to authentic Mexican dishes. I just wish it would give them a little more.