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Mark Manger

Taco Mex

Mark Manger
Along the stretch of Colfax where Denver begins to give way to Aurora, a motley collection of strip malls, repurposed gas stations and shabby storefronts house an equally diverse collection of culinary experiences. In their midst sits Taco Mex, an immaculately painted red-and-white box that looks like it might once have been a fast-food outlet, though block lettering on the windows proclaim that it now sells tortas, tacos and gorditas. Inside, kids dart between plastic furnishings and Our Lady of Guadalupe candle-flanked shrines. But the real draw is outside, where a crowd chats in Spanish with the crew manning a patched-together outdoor kitchen: a flat-top grill, a steam table, a massive vat of orange grease swimming with brisket and sausage, a rotisserie and a miniature salsa bar, all crammed into the six-foot-by-six-foot space. A beehive-shaped mass of chile-rubbed pork, dripping with grease and topped with chunks of pineapple that leak juice all over the meat, is turning on the spit. It's for tacos al pastor, slow-cooked the traditional way -- a rarity in this city because of the space and time required. Although the streetside tacos are the stars here, Taco Mex also serves up a range of Mexican food with no particular regional focus, including everything from chiles rellenos to menudo to excellent breakfast burritos.

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