Since its inception as a single Fort Collins eatery almost 20 years ago, Big City Burrito has spread its wings across Colorado and Nebraska, presenting a menu of create-your-own burritos, tacos, and the like composed of fresh fillings and made-from-scratch tortillas. Just as all buildings start with a steady foundation of flour and water, all burritos begin with a good tortilla. And Big City offers half a dozen options, such as tomato-chili and jalapeño-cheddar. After picking a tortilla, customers can start relaying their order to the kitchen crew, be it for a burrito packed with chicken mole and topped with mild pico de gallo or a carne asada taco with a dollop of salsa de lupe—the restaurant’s special blended hot salsa. Customers also can choose to have the decadent fillings and salsas served simply atop a plate of rice and beans or stuffed inside a fresh-made quesadilla. Besides crafting meals day and night, Big City also serves breakfast burritos for both adults and kids and offers catering services, which include burrito bars and boxed lunches for large groups or corporate events.
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.
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.
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.
Julia Blackbird's New Mexican Café is the culmination of two of chef and owner Julie Siegfried’s deepest passions: cooking and New Mexico. To this day, her mother recalls Julie standing on a step stool, trying to peer into a soup pot and giving her grandmother directions about what to put in. And on her first trip to New Mexico, she used up 10 rolls of film snapping pictures. She fell in love with the region's unique vibe—the people, the artwork, and, of course, the food.
Today, she shares both of her loves with diners at Julia Blackbird's New Mexican Café. Her kitchen is stocked with New Mexican ingredients such as blue cornmeal, goat cheese from the San Luis valley, and piñones. For her signature dish, the Tres Hermanas, she stuffs a trio of blue-corn enchiladas: one with chicken and green chile, one with beef and red chile, and one with cheese and chile caribe. To make sangria, the staff soaks seasonal fruit in rum, then splashes the mixture with wine and sparkling water. The menu also features beers, mojitos, and top-shelf margaritas, which encourage diners to linger in the warmly lit space, admiring brightly colored artwork or arguing about whether red should be added to the list of primary colors.
Honing their skills in professional kitchens for more than 30 years, Dora and her family shuffled through a few different culinary homes before stumbling on a vacant building. Realizing the potential this raw space could have after a little love, the family renovated the space and transformed it into the present-day Dora's Mexican Restaurant & Lounge. Dora's tight-knit staff is composed of family and friends, some who have worked at the restaurant since its opening in 1994; the team tirelessly churns out Dora's authentic Mexican family recipes to the appreciation of a loyal following of customers and hopeful pups in nearby backyards. Hefty portions populate both lunch and dinner menus, including traditional chimichangas, tamales, and goblets of the restaurant's iconic, ever-popular margaritas, which patrons can sip in a spacious dining room that pays homage to the vibrant exterior architecture of Mexico with bright, coral-color walls.