The 10 Best Places to Get Tacos in Denver, Including La Diabla | Westword


The Ten Best Places to Get Tacos in Denver

Whether you're craving classic street tacos, birria dripping in consomé or beefy tacos with a side of bone marrow, these spots deliver big on flavor.
This neon sign at Kiké's Red Tacos brick and mortar location is accurate.
This neon sign at Kiké's Red Tacos brick and mortar location is accurate. Molly Martin
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Denver is a taco town. The metro area is home to hundreds of spots catering to those eager to scarf down meats and other fillings loaded onto tortillas — which isn't surprising, considering the fact that one third of Denver County's population is made up of people of Hispanic ancestry, and everyone else is happy to follow their lead to find good food.

Narrowing down our list of the best places to get tacos to just ten is a task that is equal parts difficult and delicious. From simple street tacos to birria dripping in consomé to tortillas crusted in cheese, we've dug into endless options in our search.

For this round, we're sticking to businesses with brick-and-mortar locations, but anytime you spot a taco truck or cart — particularly on Federal Boulevard, and especially if you see a spinning trompo loaded with roasting meat — you're pretty much guaranteed to walk away happy.

Some of the standouts below have been slinging tacos for decades, while others are newer to the scene, but they all deliver the goods. Here are our picks for the ten best places to get tacos in metro Denver, in alphabetical order:

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Fans of California-style Mexican should head to Carrera's in DTC.
Molly Martin
Carrera's Tacos

7939 East Arapahoe Road, Greenwood Village
Originally from California, brothers Joshua and Ryan Carrera launched a catering company turned food truck in 2019 with the goal of bringing the type of Mexican food they'd grown up eating to the Mile High — and their business was a hit. In April 2022, it moved into a permanent home, making the Denver Tech Center an unlikely destination for French fry-filled burritos and a variety of must-try tacos, including Baja-style with tempura-fried mahi or shrimp and queso tacos, which are a cheese lover's dream thanks to the addition of a layer of melted or crispy cheese along with fillings like adobada, carnitas, birria and, for the vegetarians, cauliflower.

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El Taco de Mexico is a Denver classic.
Danielle Lirette
El Taco de Mexico

714 Santa Fe Drive
 This little joint with a bright-yellow counter and a crew of hardworking women has been serving up some of the city's most beloved Mexican fare for nearly four decades. In 2020, that history earned El Taco de Mexico an America's Classics Award from the James Beard Foundation. Becoming nationally renowned didn't change a thing about this place, though, and we wouldn't have it any other way. While the green chile remains one of the best in town, its namesake item — the tacos — are a culinary achievement in their own right, done simply and with no frills. Opt for the lengua (tongue) that's gently crisped on the griddle, or the tender cabeza (cheek meat). Tacos come topped with diced onions and cilantro; ask for a side of the homemade red salsa for an extra boost of flavor.

click to enlarge three tacos on a place with a cup of broth
It's all about the birria at Kiké's.
Molly Martin
Kiké's Red Tacos

3640 West 38th Avenue
Enrique Silva Figueroa (aka Kiké, pronounced kee-kay) spent most of his life working in restaurants and managing kitchens in Jalisco, Mexico. Just as birria began to trend all over social media, he and his family, including son Cesar Silva González, launched a food truck in Denver that specializes in the slow-braised meat, and crowds regularly lined up for a taste. In May, Kiké's Red Tacos moved into the former home of Crush Pizza, allowing it to expand its menu with options like street fries and tortas — and to add a full bar. But it's still the birria, now available with either beef or the more traditional (and more flavorful) goat, that beckons. The generous cup of consomé is enough for both dipping and sipping, and you won't want to let any of the flavorful liquid go to waste.

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La Calle draws a steady crowd at lunchtime.
Molly Martin
La Calle Taqueria y Carnitas

1565 West Alameda Avenue
People flock to this low-key taqueria, especially at lunchtime, lining up at the counter to order classic street tacos for less than $3 apiece. While plenty of places in town offer up a similar deal, La Calle stands out for several reasons, including the wide variety of meat options that range from campechano, a mix of fried pork and pig skin, to saucy cochinita pibil. The food comes out hot and fast on sturdy corn tortillas, and you can add sides of salsa from the selection kept behind glass by the cashier.

click to enlarge tacos on a plate with a slice of lime and radish slices
You can add bone marrow to the tacos at La Diabla.
Molly Martin
La Diabla Pozole y Mezcal

2233 Larimer Street
Those in the know had a hint of the tastiness to come when chef Jose Avila opened La Diabla in the summer of 2021, clued in by his Sunday-only series, El Borrego Negro, for which he cooks sheep barbacoa Hidalgo style, in an hoyo (an outdoor pit oven). While you won't find that protein at his RiNo eatery, you will find plenty of other tempting options served on tortillas. The place may have pozole in the name, but the tacos here deserve top billing, whether you go for the al pastor, which you'll often find cooking on a trompo out front; the tres chorizo, with red, green and black versions of the spicy sausage; the pork chuleta enchilada (pork chop, complete with bone on the side); or the carne asada, which gets a serious umami boost when paired with the optional addition of roasted bone marrow that you can scoop on top.

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Mexico City's fried tacos are an ideal hangover cure.
Molly Martin
Mexico City Restaurant & Lounge

2115 Larimer Street
Just a block away from La Diabla, you'll find a completely different form of taco bliss at Mexico City, which was opened by Willie and Esther Garcia over fifty years ago and is still operated by members of the same family today. Its signature dish: fried tacos filled with your choice of ground beef, steak or chicken and melty American cheese — an ingredient that may draw criticism from purists, but is purely delicious nonetheless. Pro tip: Do like the staff and add bacon and avocado to the chicken for a club-inspired taco — and don't miss the house taco sauce in a squeeze bottle.

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Mi Tierra Caliente specializes in homestyle recipes from Michoacán.
Tony White
Mi Tierra Caliente

5350 West 64th Avenue, Arvada
After years spent working for other people in the hospitality industry, Ayax Silva and his longtime friends, sisters Sandra and Fernanda Calderon, made the jump to becoming restaurant owners when they opened Mi Tierra Caliente in May. The menu pays homage to food from the Mexican state of Michoacán, where all three are from, and the carnitas are the highlight. They're made the traditional way that Silva learned growing up, which includes taking large cuts of the pig and submerging them in massive copper or stainless-steel pots filled with lard, then letting the meat slowly cook overnight. The tacos come with strips of pickled carrots and jicama on top, which expertly balances the richness of the meat.

click to enlarge tacos on a plate with crispy cheese around the edges
Order Choi-style for a layer of crispy cheese on the outside at Choi Taco.
Molly Martin
Taco Choi

14515 East Alameda Avenue, Aurora
If you're into non-traditional spins on tacos, this stall at the small Parkside Eatery food hall is worth seeking out. Taco Choi started as a food truck before moving into its permanent home last August, where it serves up Korean barbecue-inspired tacos filled with options like spicy chicken with gochujang sauce and pork marinated in a sweet and spicy chili sauce that is seared on a flat-top before being loaded onto a flour tortilla. For a layer of crispy cheese on the outside of the tortilla, opt for Choi-style. Taco Choi also recently added K-tacos, which are topped with lettuce, green onion and a soy vinaigrette.

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The barbacoa at Tacos Marlene is a standout.
Molly Martin
Tacos Marlene

679 South Federal Boulevard
No taco list would be complete without paying homage to at least one of the many joints that line Federal Boulevard, and Tacos Marlene captures all the best things about eating street tacos on this strip. The deeply flavored barbacoa is a favorite, as is the tripe — beef small intestine diced into manageable, delicate pieces and cooked to order. You'll be asked if you want the tripa crispy or soft; we recommend crispy for beginners and soft for a wonderful (but more difficult) texture that's almost like broad egg noodles. Here, the tacos are loaded with diced onions that are touched on the grill, and you can load up on extras at the self-serve salsa bar, then eat up as you watch the lowriders cruising the boulevard on a weekend night.

four tacos on a plate
Tacos Selene now has three locations in the metro area.
Molly Martin
Tacos Selene

Multiple locations
The original Tacos Selene in east Aurora and its newer siblings in Littleton and on Denver's Santa Fe Drive are built for budget-minded taco hunters, but these tacos have a wealth of flavor — and attract a steady flow of fans who line up at all three locations to place an order. If you crave tacos al pastor with pineapple, this is your muse. Lengua tacos? Your daydream. Barbacoa? That, too, fulfills every fantasy. Even the salsa bar, stocked with flavor-smacked sauces and every garnish imaginable, is an object of desire.
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