According to lore that has been passed down through the Lucio clan, one of the family progenitors was kidnapped from her native Chihuahua after Pancho Villa tasted her food and decided he needed her as his chef. That distant matron’s culinary wizardry trickled down the family tree and currently informs the cooking of her great-great-grandchildren at Armadillo Restaurants. Chefs at the restaurants use those generations-old recipes while gently patting cornhusks into place around meal and shredded pork or simmering red-chili sauce for enchiladas. Since the Lucios converted the first Armadillo Restaurant from a tough-guy bar into a restaurant in 1972, they’ve opened six additional locations in the Front Range.
Señor Rafael at the Mexican Inn enables festive, Mexican-themed revelry with big colorful drinks, garlands and hearty south-of-the-border fare. After chips and salsa, diners can give themselves beards of the refreshing but rich guacamole salad, or opt for the famous pork green chile, the spiciest and most popular item on the extensive menu. Entrees include a pair of chiles rellenos stuffed with melted cheese and topped with pork green chile, as well as classic Mexican fare such as enchiladas, quesadillas, and burritos. Sizzling fajita platters arrive with a touch of brown sugar and honey added to the meat's piquancy, and a roster of straightforward American eats sates culinary homebodies or confuses blindfolded patrons. Señor Rafael also boasts a full bar that houses a variety of Mexican beers and frosty margaritas.
At Señor Camaron, chefs season fresh fish fillets and tender steaks with poblano peppers, tamarind, and cilantro. The menu's Mexican seafood tastes mirror the eatery's beachy decor—patrons sit in palm and leather seats under wall-mounted sharks, colorful flags, and lifeguards who enthusiastically blow their whistle every time someone cleans their plate.
The staff at Slider's Sports Bar & Grill sates roaring appetites by dishing out a full menu of burgers and pub fare in a fun, relaxing atmosphere. The Slider's Signature Burger fights off hunger paparazzi with a half-pound grilled-beef patty decorated with Slider's homemade barbecue sauce, cheddar cheese, sautéed onions, and honey-smoked bacon harvested directly from burned-down beehives ($8.99). Burgers are also available as eponymous sliders, such as cheeseburger sliders ($5.99) and bacon-cheeseburger sliders ($6.99), both featuring three mini burgers topped with your choice of cheese and a side of Cajun potato chips. Slider's also ventures south of the border with traditional Mexican dishes such as the smothered burrito, loaded with ground beef or shredded chicken and smothered in homemade green chili ($8.99), which protects the environment by not emitting harmful greenhouse gases.
A popular Texas-based restaurant, Fuzzy's Taco Shop makes its Colorado debut, providing new Tex-Mex tastes with a bountiful menu straight from the South. Baja-style tacos top the menu as the restaurant's specialty and brim with cilantro, cheese, garlic sauce, feta, and a choice of fish, chicken, or pork ($1.99 each). A jumbo burrito plump with grilled- or tempura-shrimp stuffing bursts with garlic sauce and guacamole ($5.99), and breakfast favorites such as the huevos rancheros sate late-risers with savory, eggy flavors ($5.99). Diners dive into their eats perched in bright-red booths surrounded by primary-color-splashed walls, forming an environment as bright and fun as a bonfire of old toys.
La Estrellita has been serving up mouth-watering Mexican fare to area residents for more than 20 years. Start with an order of the mexi rolls ($7.50–$8.50), a family creation of ground beef and pico de gallo wrapped in an egg roll and deep fried, or share a plate of spicy chicken wings ($8–$8.50) coated in the family’s award-winning sauce. Main courses such as crab and spinach enchiladas ($9–$10) or spicy fish tacos (jalapeño-marinated tilapia grilled with caramelized onions, $10) are sure to please aquaphiles, while a combination plate such as the costillas adobadas (country-style ribs served with rice and beans, $10–$11) will satisfy even the most insatiable talking plant. Most of La Estrellita’s entrees can be served vegetarian upon request, much to the delight of vegetarians and those who derive energy through photosynthesis. Conclude any meal as sweetly as a Marlon Brando after-school special with an order of the dessert nachos ($6–$6.29) or one of La Estrellita’s 15+ margarita flavors (starting at $5.50).