Street-Food Veterans Open Taco Shop in a Box in Athmar Park

Taco Box will soon become Boxed Taco, but it's definitely a box that sells tacos.EXPAND
Taco Box will soon become Boxed Taco, but it's definitely a box that sells tacos.
Mark Antonation

Adrian and Brenda Bonilla are veterans of the west Denver street-food scene, having launched Mega-Burger in 2006 on Federal Boulevard and then briefly serving Mexican-style hamburgers under the Las Hamburguesas name inside the Valverde Country Club (a now-defunct dive bar on West Alameda Avenue). The couple's latest venture, with partner David Garcia, is Boxed Taco, a walk-up taqueria and sandwich outfit stationed in a parking lot at 650 South Lipan Street.

Adrian Bonilla says he and his father created Boxed Taco from a shipping container and chose the location because his uncle owns the property. "Me and my dad built it — it took us a couple of years," he notes. "We're still doing updates because we had such a low budget."

One of those updates will be to the name itself. The Bonillas opened the taqueria as Taco Box two months ago, making sure to register the name with the appropriate state agencies. But they were recently contacted by a small restaurant group in New Mexico that already has the name registered with the federal government, so Adrian is now in the process of switching to Boxed Taco. The metal lettering above the order counter will be swapped out in time for weekend business, and the company has also sent in a request to have its Facebook page revised.

A box full of Boxed Tacos.EXPAND
A box full of Boxed Tacos.
Mark Antonation

The tacos themselves start with three choices of meat: beef barbacoa (you can request it extra-crispy), pork adobada, and carne asada made with rib-eye steak. Rib-eye is more expensive, so the profit margin is tight, even at $3 a taco, but the quality is worth the extra cost, Adrian says. "We use the same juice from the meat to cook the tortilla," he adds, noting that it's a style common in Guadalajara.

Grilled veggies are a big part of the menu, too, with a selection of zucchini, corn, onions, nopales and even pineapple. You can get one or two at no extra charge, but it you ask for tacos "mamalon" style, you'll get a little of everything for a slight upcharge. Vegetarian tacos are also available, with all of the grilled selections plus mushrooms and avocado.

All of the meats are also available as a sandwich that comes in somewhere between a burger and a torta. Adrian compares the rib-eye version to a Philly cheesesteak, only with Mexican flavors and toppings, including cheese and avocados. And then there's "The Box," a bowl-style mound of Mexican rice, frijoles de la olla and your choice of meats and veggies served in a to-go box.

The Bonillas serve more than just Mexican street food; they also want to serve the community. "Our purpose is to feed people — and to run fundraisers," Adrian explains. The couple has always donated a portion of their sales to charitable causes, and they're continuing that mission with Boxed Taco. This Saturday, July 29, they'll donate 40 percent of sales between 5 and 9:30 p.m. to Shriners Hospitals for Children, which helped family friend Lorena Madera and her daughter, Samantha, when Samantha needed costly surgery for scoliosis.

Boxed Taco is currently only open from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday. (Adrian works another job, and Brenda says they don't have enough employees yet to extend the hours.) Find the bright-red box and its steel-beam seating on South Lipan, across from Aspgren Park in the Athmar Park neighborhood. Boxed Taco is just a few blocks north of Chain Reaction Brewing, so you can grab tacos and beers in one trip.

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