To anyone reading these customer reviews, Tula might seem like a completely schizophrenic restaurant -- brilliant one night, abysmal the next. Where one person might rave about the tilapia or the tacos, another will be horrified by the service, the music, the color of the walls. The phrase "There's no accounting for taste" no longer holds. These days, people just can't stop accounting for their tastes. Myself included.
But the truth is, Tula is not schizophrenic. I've been watching (and writing about) this address for years, and compared with previous tenants -- hell, compared with Denver's restaurant industry as a whole -- Tula has been a rock of stability: an owner-operated spot with one chef in the kitchen, a cohesive concept with decor to match, and a menu that's never betrayed its Mexican roots. I haven't loved everything I've eaten here, but I've enjoyed a great deal of it: excellent tamales, corn soups with deep peasant roots, short-rib mini-tacos in crisp shells packed with smoky-sweet meat that tastes like the best bits pulled off the burnt edges of a pile of barbecue, cold cheladas (cans of Tecate, salted and served with a sangrita-marinated shrimp hung over the edge of the can) that never fail to foam over and soak my jeans. And last week, I had the best churros-and-chocolate dessert I've ever had, bar none. This is a new addition to the menu -- one that Chris's wife, Kerri, has been demanding forever -- and, as with all things at Tula, it departs slightly from tradition by replacing the traditional hot chocolate with a cool, caramelly dollop of chocolate served in a tin bowl that makes the experience like dipping hot cinnamon-sugar doughnuts into a cold tub of chocolate pudding.
After this week's beer-and-ice-cream-soup debacle (see review), I think I'll be dropping by Tula to satisfy my sweet tooth.