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:
7939 East Arapahoe Road, Greenwood Village
carrerastacos.com 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.
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.
3640 West 38th Avenue
kikesredtacos.com 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.
1565 West Alameda Avenue
lacalletaqueriaycarnitas.comPeople 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.
2233 Larimer Street
ladiabladenver.comThose 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.
2115 Larimer Street
ilovemexicocitytacos.com 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.
5350 West 64th Avenue, Arvada
instagram.com/mi_tierra_caliente 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.
14515 East Alameda Avenue, Aurora
tacochoi.comIf 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.
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.
tacosselenecolorado.comThe 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.