Another one of those national food days is coming up, the kind of celebration cooked up by a promotional board to sell more almonds or goat milk. This Saturday it's National Taco Day, which appears to be fabricated with the sole intention of selling novelty calendars. According to nationaltacoday.com, Americans ate more than 4.5 billion tacos last year. To put that in more visual terms, imagine holding one taco in your hand, and then imagine that you have 4.5 billion hands. Marg's World Taco Bistro, with locations in Cherry Creek, LoDo and Uptown, hopes you use at least a couple of those hands to shovel some of its tacos into your mouth. Maybe even braised lamb tacos, which Marg's has been testing at the Cherry Creek location. And that's not all that's new at Marg's: The company is also expanding into new markets with two new restaurant concepts.
Managing partner Tony Walker says he and his partners have formed the Big Eats Restaurant Group to help expand the Marg's brand and to introduce two restaurant concepts: a ramen noodle bar called Slurp and a wood-fired pizzeria called Una, which will also serve craft beer.
Marg's just opened a taqueria in Truckee, California, making it the fourth in the chain. Walker is back from a trip to Los Angeles, where plans are under way to open the first Slurp. He says Big Eats is a couple of weeks away from signing a lease to bring Una to Denver's LoHi neighborhood -- and that Big Eats eventually plans to expand all three brands in the Denver area.
The Marg's menu is nothing if not creative, featuring tacos filled with everything from chicken vindaloo to Vietnamese pork done banh mi style. The lamb tacos, coated with adobo and braised in red wine, seem almost tame in comparison, but Walker says lamb isn't always an easy sell, so they've started out at just one store. "We've had great success with it. Customers in Cherry Creek really enjoy it," he says.
"I went to Kogi BBQ (in Los Angeles) and stood in line for 45 minutes," he says of the famous Korean tacos that share a kinship with Walker's vision. He lists Marg's duck quesadillas and tacos, as well as the slightly pricier short rib tacos, among his favorites, but notes that selling a $4 taco in Denver can be a difficult endeavor -- until people actually try one and taste the quality of the ingredients.
I certainly don't need an excuse to eat tacos, but it's nice to know that there's a calendar day to keep tacos in the national consciousness. And with Una and Slurp on the horizon, it may be time to mark pizza and ramen on the calendar, too.
Keep reading for the recipe for Marg's lamb tacos.
Lamb Tacos 1 leg of lamb, deboned 1 bottle of red wine 1 28-ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes 1 can (28 ounces) of water 8 pieces of garlic 1 cup of adobo seasoning
Season the lamb with enough adobo seasoning to cover the lamb thoroughly (about 1 cup). Grill the meat until a light crust develops on the meat. Remove and place in the braising pan. Add the first 5 ingredients into the pan with the lamb. Cook for 7 hours at 275. (Note that you may need to add salt to taste, depending on whether your adobo seasoning contains salt or not.)
Relish 1 large can of corn (rinsed) 3 jalapenos, sliced thin (with seeds removed) 1 cup of lime juice 10 chiles de arbol, destemmed and chopped 2 red onions 1 cup of cilantro, chopped 2 cups of white vinegar 3 cups of water 3 tablespoons of sugar
Add the water, vinegar and sugar to a pot and bring to a boil. Mix all the other ingredients except the cilantro in a container. Pour the vinegar solution over the mixture and cool. Add the cilantro when you are ready to serve the tacos. (Note that this is a big batch.)
Cumin sour cream 1 cup of sour cream 2 tablespoons of cumin
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To serve the tacos, finish the lamb (it should pull apart after seven hours of braising) in a hot pan to crisp the edges. Top a fresh tortilla with lamb, a spoonful of relish, a little cumin sour cream and a squirt of lime.