Cherry Creek North isn't exactly a hotbed of ethnic cuisine. Before Machete Tequila and Tacos came along, the most Mexican place in the neighborhood was the Chico's clothing boutique down the street. But despite a customer base likely to eat a burrito only if it's called a wrap, Machete has made a home in the subterranean space on Third Avenue, selling a step above what's commonly known in the business as white-people tacos.
I'm not sure I'm fully on board with the idea of commercially fished shark, but -- well -- better him than me. Shark in any form is an uncommon sight on Colorado menus, so when I spotted mako shark tacos -- Mazunte, on Machete's menu -- I took the bait.
There's something distinctly top-of-the-food-chain about eating shark, even if the result is nothing more than firm and flaky white flesh not too different from, say, halibut (though if it came down to kill or be killed, I'd opt to wrestle the halibut). Machete coats the mako in a fluffy beer batter and tops it with a squiggle of aioli spiked with Valentino hot sauce. And, yes, I said aioli; they've got to get the leopard-print set in the door somehow. In a nod to authenticity, Machete makes its own tortillas by hand; the shark taco comes on a thick and tender round of griddled masa tinted with hibiscus -- which brings to mind a pool of blood, formed in an epic battle between man and sea beast. It was a battle I handily won this time, although I had to employ a fork to get the job done; the chunk of shark was too big for the tortilla to fully encompass.
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Feeling triumphant over one of nature's most efficient killers, I took down a second taco, this time loaded with the offal of the lowly land cow. Machete's tripe tacos are every bit as good as any I've had in more southerly regions (South Federal Boulevard, to be precise), fried into crisp and pungent nuggets and smothered in a sharp and bright salsa verde. I ripped into that taco like a...well, like a mako shark.