Sunday, May 15, 2011

Denver al Pastor Take 11: El Divino, the Toluca Mexican Restaurant Roadshow

If you just started reading this blog over the past month you might think I was a paid staff member of the Toluca Mexican Restaurant in Westminster as three of my last five posts have had something to do with this taco-al-pastor refuge. This couldn't be farther from the truth, however, and the proof would be that in the hypothetical situation that I was a paid employee of Toluca, I would have long ago been fired for taking large bites directly from their beautiful spits of pastor. Also, before a couple weeks ago, I think the most time I have spent in Westminster is the time it takes to drive through it on highway 36. But that's not to say anything bad about our neighbors to the northwest-- in fact quite the contrary-- they might just lay the claim to fame of having the greater Denver metropolitan area's best taco al pastor.


As I was saying, I dined at Toluca a few weeks ago for the first time and was blown away by owner Victor's culinary repertoire and of course his superb tacos al pastor. I got word of this potential pastor goldmine via some pictures I was sent of a Toluca-made spit outside of the Museo de las Americas for April's First Friday Santa Fe art walk. So it seemed only logical that when the next first Friday came around that I should be there-- because if there is anything that can make tacos al pastor even better, it is eating them on the street.


When Toluca goes out on the road to cater they call themselves El Divino. This evening they were set up under a big white taco-tent in front of el Museo, bright red spit of pastor calling to me through the crowd, drawing me in like a moth towards a porch light on an otherwise dark street.


I said a lot of good things about the Toluca taco al pastor last post, and yes the taco al pastor outdoors at El Divino is even better than the restaurant version. Being that it is the same exact recipe and marinade, it offers more or less irrefutable scientific proof that the mere act of eating tacos on a crowded city street makes them better.


The asada on the other hand was average, though its flavor too was enhanced by the bustling Santa Fe First Friday pedestrian traffic. It was so crowded in fact that it was hard at times to even move (especially with a double stroller). With tacos in hand I found a spot of wall to lean on and watched the crowd push by. In spurts came vendors, tourists, freaks, propogandists, protesters, stilt people and of course taco lovers. The din of urban chaos was fantastic. Along with the familiar taste of marinated pork and pineapple in my mouth I felt I could have been on some bustling alameda in Mexico City.



Then the cops showed up. Not the riot police (if you were there that night, that was later), but the regular boys in blue, and just like that my little Mexico-urban-daydream came to a halt. I saw them out of the corner of my eye strolling down towards the tent looking way too bored. A bored cop can only mean trouble, and sure enough they puffed-up their chests and sauntered over to the back of the tent to have words with the man in charge. A jolt of reality reminding me we were still stateside: Turns out El Divino was a little too far onto the sidewalk.


Luckily El Divino wasn't shut down for the night--though they were scolded for an inordinate amount of time-- and after the boys in blue finally split, I stood there and watched the men and women under the tent for a good while longer before setting out down the street in hopes of glimpsing some piece of art that would match that perfect upside-down cone of marinated meat. It wasn't to be, though I was able to sample some more excellent food which I will hopefully get around to writing about soon.


El Divino, it turns out, is a perfectly appropriate name for an outfit that serves pastor this good. Victor and his Westminster-based family-crew are on the way to cornering the pastor market as far as I can tell in this town with a mobile outdoor set-up like this. If this tradition continues outside of El Museo it will continue to be one of Denver's most authentic taco al pastor settings. And what's more, Victor purports that he will start carving up tacos al pastor outside of his Westminster locations on the weekends all summer, so if you can't find El Divino out on the street, make a trip up north to Toluca-- it'll be worth your while.

Toluca Mexican on Urbanspoon

6 comments:

  1. Great post; I can totally see someone taking "large bites" out of the spit of carne like if they were going to town on some corn-on-the-cob!

    And those first two pictures, so cool and moody. Call them the "Apotheosis of Al Pastor" I & II.

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  2. I still have to give them a try. As I write this and regularly read your blog. I'm thinking you should start keeping track of how many tacos you eat - per month, year. Maybe land yourself a book deal about tacos?

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  3. I think if I wrote down all the tacos I ate I would scare myself away from eating tacos.

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  4. Great information about the best Tacos al Pastor in town. These tacos are really THE BEST, not an imitation of tacos like other street food vendors.

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  5. Are they still on Santa Fe? I haven't seen them lately? Does anyone know?

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    Replies
    1. Not sure. I saw them downtown for 5 de Mayo but no spit. I'm due for a trip up north to their restaurant so I will check into it.

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