Wednesday, April 7, 2010

El Taco de Mexico

On a mission for Mexican food on Friday night, we have great plans of going to Benny’s, one of the greatest dive-but-you-can’t-help-but-love Mexican restaurants in Denver.  As we thought…it was an hour wait and at 7:45, that was too long for us. 
The back up plan was El Taco de Mexico, the greatest Mexican restaurant in Denver!  It’s the best and worst at the same time, let me set the scene.  Imagine a gas station, an older 80’s type gas station that was small, maybe three pumps and just a counter inside to pay with a few stand of junk food.  This “80’s gas station” was turned into a Mexican restaurant.  The pumps are gone which made way for a very small parking lot, the junk food area has been taken over by 6 orange vinyl booths and the counter is now an eat-in bar.  It hasn’t been updated since opening, which is part of the “charm” of the place.  So you’re getting the drift on the worst part, the atmosphere.  They do have a small patio with 4 tables, and last summer they converted three of the very valuable parking spots to another outdoor eating area.  If the weather is nice, I’d recommend a table outside.
The women behind the counter are far from friendly and wouldn’t crack a smile if you paid them.  It’s always the same 8 women or so cooking up your order.  They are open nearly 15 hours every day of the week.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner you can indulge in this awesome food.  Back to the ladies…they barely speak English, or maybe they do, we have yet to experience it.  It’s a bit uncomfortable ordering because you have no idea if what you ordered will arrive on your plate.  For example, my brother ordered a pork taco (it’s on the menu) and he got an orchata, which is cinnamon infused rice milk.  So the verdict is up in the air if they really understand what you are ordering.  Word to the wise, don’t order anything that isn’t on the menu!
I always order the same things, the best item on the menu, chili relleno burrito, smothered.  It’s awesome even for breakfast.  We are all used to othe restaurants where the chips and salsa keep coming.  If that is the type of Mexican food you’re looking for you’re in the wrong place.  I’ve never seen anyone order it, although it is on the menu.  You simply place your order and grab a table.  The service: if you’re sitting inside, they’ll hand you your order over the counter, so get up and grab your plate.  If you’re sitting outside, you will be served your food, but don’t expect anything else.  If you want a refill on your drink, get up and go ask for one. 
I realize I’m not making this place sound great, but it is truly some of the best Mexican food I’ve had in my life.  You can’t have it all, food, service and atmosphere.  They win award after award; best green chili, best Mexican food, best this and best that.  They have awards hung all over the walls from the last 12 years, both local and national awards.  If you are a local or in town, it’s a must! 
It's cash only, so hit up the ATM on your way.  If you forget, there is an ATM, thankfully, across the street! I’d love to refer you to a website to check it out, but they aren’t there yet, and probably never will be.  Until then, here’s the location:
El Taco de Mexico 
714 Santa Fe Drive (Santa Fe and 7th Ave)
Denver, CO 80204
(303) 623-3926