Garibaldi Mexican Bistro: A Room With a View...of a Car Wash

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Last month I stopped by Garibaldi Mexican Bistro at 3298 South Broadway in a lead-up to Tacolandia, Westword's celebration of Denver's Mexican street food. I was on a mission at the time, and made a beeline for Garibaldi's unique queka: a cross between a taco and a quesadilla on a thick, fried corn tortilla. Sure, I noticed that the tiny bistro was located inside a Conoco gas station, but I didn't have much of a chance to look around, since my face and thoughts were buried in that delicious queka.

But a Tuesday-night special at Garibaldi lured me back: The kitchen was serving up Oaxacan-style tlayudas, a rarity in Denver. To get to the restaurant, guests need to pass under the Conoco carport and go past the rows of fuel pumps, but once inside, they'll find a tidy, full-service dining room painted in bright colors and decorated with children's paintings.

If you grab a table in the raised dining room to the left of the main seating area, you may feel the floor rumbling intermittently; that's just the automated car wash on the other side of Garibaldi's north wall. In fact, a window in the dining room looks directly into the car-wash bay; if you're so inclined, you could enjoy a view of the relaxing waves of water as they wash over cars while you dig into an enormous tlayuda, made on a thin, crackly corn tortilla that holds layers of refried pinto beans, stringy Oaxacan cheese, sliced tomatoes and a meat of your choice. (Garibaldi specializes in a braised beef cut called suadero, but chorizo is a good choice, too.) The thing looks huge, but the tortilla is paper-thin, making it a filling meal for one or a light dinner for two.

Tlayudas, quekas and a car wash — quite possibly the most original combo in this city's Mexican restaurant scene.

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