Proprietors Juan and Josie Tafoya unleash bouquets of spicy fragrance from authentic Mexican dishes into the cool air. For appetizers, chefs expertly cram cheese into a quintet of jalapeños before tightly wrapping the ensemble in a bacon ribbon. Diners wash down entrees including grilled whole tilapia and the veggie burrito with house margaritas beneath the Mexican artwork that festoons the walls and serves as roosts for nesting mariachi bands. The Tafolino Grande platter rents out space to a crispy beef taco, a soft taco, a bean tostada, an enchilada, a smothered bean burrito, and a tamale, which all play house with a litter of rice and beans. House-made sopaipillas saddled with caramel, whipped cream, and cherries serve as a dulcet postscript to meals and fuel sweet dreams like a harp-playing pastry chef.
The beats of lean cuts of meat sizzling on the grill and ladles clanking against trays of zesty vegetables fill Qdoba Mexican Grill during construction of made-to-order Mexican fare. As healthy-eating devotees, Qdoba's staff stocks its kitchen with nutritious ingredients, seasonal flavors, and 100% cotton candy–free tortillas.
Las Cazuelas has been serving Coloradans authentic, stick-to-your-ribs Mexican fare for more than 35 years. The atmosphere may be no-frills, but that's not what keeps regulars coming back time after time?it's the food. Some of their specialties include chicken fajitas loaded with grilled onions and all the fixings and beef chimichangas smothered in green chilies. Even the appetizers are classics, such as gooey cheese quesadillas and creamy guacamole. There's also a full bar, where staffers mix up massive margaritas rimmed with enough salt to melt the North Pole.
The Colorado-raised owners of Toned Bones - Active Lifestyle Eatery, who grew up participating in outdoor activities, know that an active lifestyle requires energy-rich food that won't weigh you down. At their restaurant, they prepare healthful American cuisine without sacrificing taste. Ingredients such as Greek yogurt and agave nectar stand in for mayonnaise or sugar, and natural, Colorado-raised beef goes into juicy burgers. Heirloom greens serve as the base for salads dressed up with jumbo Gulf shrimp, fresh strawberries, or filets of grilled Pacific salmon.
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.
Throughout the summer months, el Camino's rooftop garden blossoms with organic cilantro and mint leaves, providing ultra-fresh accouterments for the eatery's Mexican feasts. And though the small garden doesn’t cultivate all of el Camino’s ingredients, the rest of the bounty originates not too far from Highland. For example, the eatery's chefs stuff housemade tamales, tacos, and other lunch and dinner specialties with all-natural chicken, beef, and pork from local vendor Anderson Meats. They create guacamole, salsa, and each and every dessert completely from scratch, using produce supplied by two Colorado companies, Red Hat Foods and Arroyo Produce. Beyond supporting the local economy, el Camino tries to preserve the entire ecosystem by operating on 100% wind power and recycling all of its cans, bottles, and cardboard cutouts of Al Gore.
While satisfying hunger with decadent, locally sourced food, including a daily brunch, el Camino sates rippling thirsts for both beer and entertainment. The bar pours drafts from the likes of Del Norte, Avery, and Great Divide breweries, and mixes up potent bloody marys, mimosas, and sangria. Every night of the week brings a different treat, such as $1 street tacos on Tuesday and the Tito Del Barrio Malaga flamenco band every Saturday.