For the first time, a Colorado spot has earned an America's Classic Award from the James Beard Foundation, which has honored over a hundred restaurants with this particular recognition since it was introduced in 1998. The awards are designed to celebrate restaurants "that have timeless appeal and are beloved regionally for quality food that reflects the character of its community."
And the James Beard Foundation definitely came up with a winner here in Denver: El Taco de Mexico, which has become an institution on Santa Fe Drive since it opened 35 years ago.
Readers were quick to applaud the news. Says Ryan:
Well-deserved! Best damn Mexican food in Colorado!
They offer solid, wonderful food and a pleasant, clean environment and have for decades. Bravo! Bravo! A true Denver Institution! Some of the hardest-working women in Denver. Started out in a little caboose.
I have loved them since I was little, and their recipe has remained untouched. They're pricy, but they're worth it!
The food is good, but no beer.
The food is good, but the atmosphere is bleak.
I’m happy for this great restaurant. But now a bunch of yuppie transplants are going to ‘discover’ it, and they’ll shit on it because it isn’t all Edison bulbs, Mac store, kale and beet taco... and yuppie BS.
Oh, shit! We knew that place a was a bomb little secret..that giant pot of Sunday stew!
Damn it...now the line will be out the door.
And then there's this from Emanuel:
I'm sorry, but all Mexican food in Colorado sucks....
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Emanuel, you might want to try again, since founder Maria Luisa Zanabria had recently moved here from Mexico City when she opened El Taco de Mexico in a trailer on Santa Fe back in 1985. Over the years, it's grown to a lively taqueria, a bright-yellow landmark in the heart of the city at 714 Santa Fe Drive.
Her daughter, Sasha Zanabria, runs the place today. "My mother worked very hard to open the restaurant and to make it what it is today," she says. "I have been carrying on for two years and hope to keep her work going."
El Taco de Mexico will be honored May 4, when the James Beard Foundation restaurant and chef awards are announced in Chicago, at a thirtieth-anniversary ceremony. Find out more here.
What are your other favorite Mexican restaurants in Denver? What do you order at El Taco de Mexico? Will you be there today for that "Sunday stew"? Post a comment or email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.