Cafe Society

What restaurants are worth your hard-earned dough? El Taco de Mexico and Frasca, says Gourmet magazine

Gourmet, the national food porn glossy with lots of dreamboat pictures, is rumored to be going down -- fast, at least according to The Observer, which reported earlier this week that the monthly, along with several other pubs owned by Conde Nast, will likely need to slash its budget by 25 percent next year. And don't be surprised if there's a reduction in issue frequency, either, thanks to a cringing slide in ad pages.

So it was a pleasant surprise to open the October issue -- a celebration of The American Restaurant -- and see some good stuff, namely shout-outs to two Colorado spots in an article recognizing "Restaurants Worth the Money."

But while editors noshed their way through restaurants in New Orleans, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Chicago with $1,000 in their pockets, Denver didn't get that kind of royal treatment. Which may explain, in part, why one of the joints that Gourmet named best in the West is El Taco de Mexico, 714 Santa Fe Drive, which is obviously worth the money since it's effing delicious and it costs virtually nothing to eat there. Gourmet didn't exactly say that, but here's what they did write about our beloved taqueria:

This tiny no-frills Mexican joint is beloved for its green chile, a.k.a. Colorado's de facto state food. Order tacos al pastor or burritos de chile relleno at the counter, say yes when asked if you want it smothered, and get some horchata to cool the chile's blaze.

On the compete opposite end of the dining spectrum, the magazine sings the praises of Boulder's Frasca Food & Wine:

National acclaim hasn't pushed Frasca's prix-fixe prices upward; at about $70 a head, you'll be hard-pressed to find a more exquisite Friulian meal in America. Chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson canvases the state for pristine ingredients to use in dishes like handmade pasta alla chitarra with poached egg and bitter mustard greens, while wine director Bobby Stuckey oversees the lively dining room.

Overall, it's a good showing -- given that El Taco de Mexico and Frasca made the same list as the French Laundry, which is where both Mackinnon-Patterson and Stuckey stomped before opening Frasca in 2004.

Still, we can think of at least fifty other Colorado restaurants that are worth their weight in spare coinage and c-notes. No doubt you can, too.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson