Sunday, May 6, 2012

Tacos el Chorizo on East Colfax: Keep Going East!

If you are unfamiliar with East Denver or Aurora and are driving East out of downtown on Colfax in search of some really good tacos (like these, these or these) you will no doubt notice Tacos el Chorizo soon after crossing Colorado. Having myself lived many years in the heart of Denver I realize that being East of Colorado Blvd seems long trip and Tacos el Chorizo sure has the look of one of those tasty East Colfax taquerias you have heard so much about-- what with the crudely painted cartoonish pig and bright colored signs advertising tacos, tortas and the like. But do yourself a favor, don't stop.


Even inside one gets the tempting whiff of taco grease and with the smiling señora that is often there, the feeling that there is some good ol' casera-style Mexican cooking going on. There is even a simple wall menu with endearing mis-translations to English that let its Gabacho customers know that they can top their tacos with the "produce" and "chilli" of their choice at the salsa bar. Needless to say, the clientele is predominantly Spanish-speaking--hell there is even a poster advertising a Karaoke night with Chihuahua Charly. But alas, despite all these good signs, Tacos el Chorizo is well, not good.


I also have given Tacos El Chorizo more than its fair number of chances, having dined there at least five times in the past five years. Each time finishing my tacos and groaning, thinking, "Why did I finish my tacos?" I hate to write bad reviews. Especially of a mom-and-pop shop like this, but as a lover of many, many glorious tacos just a little further East down Colfax I don't want folks driving out here and thinking Tacos el Chorizo might be one of them.


My wife and I stopped in the other night for reasons I still do not know (I think I have a soft spot for cartoon pig logos--like my own). The reality was that we were quite hungry, headed East on Colfax and literally stopped at the first taqueria we found. We did debate crossing the threshold for a minute as not-so-special memories hazily floated in the backs of our glucose-starved brains. I eventually justified the entry by remembering that I wanted to check if they ever set up their pastor spit as they had promised a couple years back.

That spit of pastor on the sign is false advertising

When we walked in I immediately went to the second room to see if the shiny spit-roaster (that had never felt the weight of a full pastor spit) was still there and if so, if they finally stuck some meat on it. Alas, the room was full of other types of paraphernalia, apparently for Chihuahua Charly and his Karoake machine. Otherwise it was dark, void of any pastor potential.

Sad and foreboding as this discovery was, we still proceeded to order tacos. Pastor and carnitas for me; and for my wife adobada, carne asada and barbacoa.

The pastor was just as I remembered it. The marinade was acrid with tomatoes and had no depth or complexity that would make it somewhat salvageable. The canned pineapples were mixed in with the meat and grilled as such. There was, as I said, no spit.


The carnitas were decent in the way that thrice-fried re-heated meat is. What saved them both was the excellent and spicy smoky red salsa from the salsa bar.

My wife hadn't eaten lunch and absolutely devoured her carne asada and barbacoa before I had a chance to try them. She gave then a thumbs-down as she groaned through the last bite and like her husband so often rues, told me, "I shouldn't have eaten so fast."

Carne asada on left, adobada-like taco on right

Then there was the adobada. The adobaba would fit nicely in the meat debate I had in my previous post--that is, it was hard to say what it was. It was orange--presumably from the marinade though it was white meat (or carne blanca) of some kind, let's say pork. My wife refused to take a bite and being such a caring husband I consented. Not sure what flavor they were going for but I think it is safe to call it a failure.

To be fair I have tried nothing but tacos at El Chorizo, and while they might have some other good dishes, if tacos aren't a good measure of a taqueria then I don't know what is. So when headed out Colfax do yourself a favor and keep on going East--at least just past Syracuse where you will find your first taco pleasure fulfilled at Taco Mex. And don't stop there: Tacos Acapulco, Tacos y Salsas, Tacos Junior--they all await just further on down the road. And if you make it to Peoria--its like a whole other world.

Tacos El Chorizo on Urbanspoon

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