A Chip Off the Old Block

After thirty years, Taqueria Patzcuaro is finally adding a patio to the side of its building at 2616 West 32nd Avenue. The duplex that was there has been cleared away, and the restaurant's owners hope to have an outdoor dining area in place by June.

And not a moment too soon, because three decades after this classic Mexican outpost first appeared in 1978, it's more popular than ever. This past Sunday morning, both old regulars and new fans (this part of Highland is gentrifying rapidly) were lined up outside the door, eager for a plate of huevos ranchero and a bowl of the Best Free Chips and Salsa in town, as noted here in the Best of Denver 2008.

By comparison, Benny's Restaurant y Tequila Bar is a relative baby: Although he'd cooked in kitchens around town, Benny Armas didn't open his own spot until 1987. But it caught on fast, and after expanding once (the original space is now occupied by Mizuna), he moved Benny's up the street to the former home of Chef Henry at 301 East Seventh Avenue.

This place is vast, but it's not big enough for the army of Benny's faithful, and so Armas is adding a second patio, along Grant Street, which will be used mostly for overflow bar crowd when it opens next month. But if you ask nicely, we're sure you can get the reader's choice for the Best Free Chips and Salsa -- and unlike the one-basket-per-table policy at Taqueria Patzcuaro, Benny's free basket is bottomless.

As is my affection for both of these joints.-- Patricia Calhoun

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