Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Night of Unforgettable Enchiladas: Is Tarasco's My Favorite Mexican Restaurant in Denver?

A couple of months ago my wife asked me where I would like to have my birthday dinner. Table 6? Frasca? Insert fancy restaurant name here? Almost without hesitation I blurted out: Tarasco's. She laughed a little but understood, and proceeded to secretly call the owner to try and set up a surprise private birthday tasting menu, and make sure they would have enough room in their small dining room for us and eight or ten of our friends. When he kept speaking to her in English, she told him she was from Mexico as well. "Oh," he told her, "Only Americanos call to ask questions and make reservations. Just come in and and we'll set you up."

If you don't already know, Tarasco's is owned and run by young and affable Noe, a native of Michoacan, a place rich in culinary tradition and well-known for its mole. Tarasco's has, without a doubt the best assortment of moles I have tried in Denver-- and while I can't say for sure they are the best in town, they are good enough that I have stopped looking elsewhere.

We were seated in the middle of the small and homey dining room. My lovely wife quickly negotiated the first courses that started with a cup of Tarasca soup, a typical dish from Michoacan made with a base of beans, cream and tomatoes, but with a smoky depth, hint of heat and crisp freshness unlike anything I've had in a long time. An amazing way to start what would be an unforgettable feast.

Next was a very good cup of red pozole. It lacked the goodness and rich flavor that comes from a slow-cooked pigs head like the best of Mexico City's pozoles, but it was good nonetheless.

Our next plate was a quartet of grilled nopales, of course. My wife is enamored with this hard-to-find-done-right-outside-of-Mexico dish, and the Tarasco's version is indeed stellar. It was polished off in no time and served as a nice build-up for what was to come.

Here is where the night gets a little hazy. After the nopal plates were cleared, a flurry of enchiladas poured through our table. I'm not sure I even captured all of them on film, but needless to say each one was uniquely exquisite.

Let's say we started with the mole verde and the mole siete chiles. I have had both of those before at Tarasco's, though in previous visits it was always poured over a plate of luscious carnitas. Can't say I necessarily prefer the enchilada version more, but the tortilla does provide optimal soaking of the delicious sauce and I even made a couple tacos filled with nothing but the mole when nothing else was left. Incredible.


The mole amarillo was a special that night and again was unique and divine. I believe it gets its color from corn masa and tomatillos, but its taste is layered and complex.

Many moons ago I posted a recipe for enchiladas mineras, a delicious regional specialty of Guanajuato. I wondered aloud in that post if anyone in Denver made them. Now I know. It so happens that one of the cooks is from Guanajuato, so it is with this stroke of luck that they have arrived in Denver on a menu somewhere. If you still haven't tried them, now would be a good time.

The tortillas are soaked in a guajillo-based sauce and the filling includes carrots and potatoes. I make mine with chicken as well, but this simple, common version was every bit as delicious without the meat.

I think my favorite dish of the night came last. It was an extraordinarily simple plate of enchiladas de espinacas. The sauteed spinach drenched in red chile sauce matched perfectly with the crumbled, sharp cotija. The tortillas were soft, dipped in a green salsa and stuffed with more of that excellent--and I mean excellent as in perfect--spinach.

We finished our meal with flan, lovely sweet corn tamales, and a beautiful, tear-jerking spread of churros. The flan was delightful, as was the tamal. In my younger days I could have eaten tamal, flan and the entire plate of churros. But alas, we were here with others, which meant sharing food.

I think a few months ago I said something stupid (ok, I do that every week) about how hard it was to find a good plate of churros in this town. I had completely forgotten about Tarasco's. Now I don't have to worry about overpaying for my churro-fix either.


This was the type of meal where you become sad that the human body has evolved to feel fullness. I could have happily kept eating for the pure pleasure of those delicately balanced flavors dancing on my tongue. But alas the too-slow peristaltic process of digestion signaled the end of yet another meal--but what a meal it was.

People frequently ask me what my favorite Mexican restaurant is. It is such a hard question to answer, in part because what, in the end, is Mexican food in the United States anyway? It can mean so many different things. There is so much to consider and I like the whole gamut, from the green chile smothered, yellow-cheese-topped burritos to a parrillada de pescado to a delicate Oaxacan mole. That being said, if I don't consider taquerias, I must admit that Tarasco's is my first choice for a good spread of Mexican food. And until I come across something better, I am going to say it: Tarasco's is my favorite Mexican restaurant in Denver.

Tarasco's New Latino Cuisine on Urbanspoon

5 comments:

  1. What a feast! And belated happy birthday from one food blogger to another. - Claire @ culinary-colorado.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Just got back from lunch at Tarasco's with my family. We'd been before, but your post reminded me it had been too long. I got the bean soup and spinach enchiladas per your recommendation; my husband got nachos and an amazing, massive torta; my kids got rice and beans and quesadillas and a mango, pineapple and orange smoothie; and we all shared an order of guacamole. Everything was amazing. I've never posted here, but I love your blog - thanks!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Glad it reminded you to go back. I neglected to mention the great liquado selection they have this time. I'm starting to think that EVERYTHING they do is amazing. thanks for reading.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Looking for something way better than average and different in Mexican food? This is the place; don't let the exterior or ambiance fool you. They have the tropical fruit drinks which are recommended as some of their salsas and sauces have the low slow burn. Everything is delicious and the service is top notch.

    ReplyDelete
  5. FYI, I got the mole amarillo for the first time this past weekend, and it's by far my favorite of the three moles - amazing.

    ReplyDelete

Labels

11N (1) A Federal Case (1) A Taste of the Philippines (1) Acapulco Tacos (1) Ace Eat Serve (1) adobo (1) Adrian Miller (1) aguas frescas (2) Al Lado (1) Al's Beef (1) alambre (4) Ali Baba Grill (1) All-V's (1) arepas (4) Argentina (2) art (1) asada (2) Aurora (5) authentic (1) Award (1) bacon (1) bagel (1) Bailey (1) bakery (1) baklava (1) baleadas (2) Ban Thai (1) barbacoa (3) baseball (5) Basil Doc's (1) BBQ (2) beer (2) bibimbob (1) Biker Jim (1) birria (1) biscuit (2) Bistro Vendome (1) Bonnie Brae Tavern (1) books (1) Boulder (3) Boulder International Film Festival (1) Bourdain (1) breakfast (3) breakfast for dinner (1) breakfast tacos (1) brunch (2) Brussels sprouts (1) Buffalo wings (2) buffet (1) Bun Hanoi (1) burger (3) burrito (7) Bánh mì (2) cabeza (2) Cafe de Tacuba (1) Cafe La Habana (1) Cafe San Juan (1) camping (1) Canada (1) Carl Sandburg (1) carne en su jugo (2) carne seca (1) carnitas (2) Cava (1) cecina (1) ceviche (2) change (1) charal (1) chica morada (1) Chicago (10) Chicago Louie's (1) Chicago Style (1) chicarron (3) chicharron (2) chicken skin (1) chilaquiles (4) Chile (3) chiles en nogada (1) Chili Verde (1) chimbolo (1) Chinese (2) Chinese New Year (1) chorizo (4) chorrillana (1) Christmas (1) churros (2) cinco de mayo (2) CLOSED (6) coffee (3) Colorado Springs (1) Colt and Grey (1) Coney Island (1) contest (8) crab (1) crawfish (1) crispchon (1) Cuba Cuba Sandwicheria (1) Cuban sandwich (7) cupcakes (1) curry (1) Cypress Hill (1) Dancing Noodle (1) deep dish (1) deli (1) Deluxe (4) Denveater (7) Denver Biscuit Company (1) Denver Botanic Garden (1) Denver County Fair (2) dessert (2) Dim Sum (1) diner (1) DINR (7) discada (1) dolmades (1) Domo (1) donuts (1) dreams (1) duck curry (1) dumplings (2) durian (1) EatDenver (2) El Boricua (1) El Camaron Loco (1) El Costeno (1) El Diablo (2) El Divino (1) El Fogon (1) el guero tortero (1) El Olvido (2) El Paisa (3) El Pariaso (1) El Rico Dicho (1) El Salvador (2) El Taco Rey (1) El Tamarindo (1) El Tizoncito (1) elote (1) Emapanda Express Grill (1) Empanada Express Grill (1) empanadas (8) enchiladas (1) enchiladas mineras (1) Encore (1) epicurious (1) Ernie's Bar (1) Euclid Hall (1) event (1) Evergreen (1) falafel (1) Fantasy Island (1) Filipino (7) film (7) fire (1) First Friday (1) fish tacos (2) flan (1) flyfishing (1) food truck (7) food cart (6) football (2) French (2) fried chicken (2) fried tacos (1) frijoles charros (1) Frijoles Colorado (1) Fritangas (1) frito pie (5) frybread (1) G6 (1) gallo pinto (1) garnachas (1) Gastro Cart (1) Gaudalajara Authentic Mexican Buffet (1) Globeville (1) Golden (1) good Mexican food (10) good signs (5) gorditas (1) Grandma's Korean BBQ (2) Greek (1) Greek Town (1) green chile (12) gyro (4) Halo-Halo (1) Harvest Week (1) Hi Rise (1) Honduran food (1) hot dog (5) huarache (4) Huerfano Cafe (1) Hush (1) Hutch and Spoon (1) Ian Kleinman (3) ice cream (1) Indian taco (1) itacates (1) Italian beef (6) Italian-American (2) Jabo's (1) Jack-n-Grill (1) James Mazzio (2) Japanese (1) Jax (1) Jiutepec (1) Jollibee (1) Jonsey's Eat Bar (1) kabob (1) Kaladi (1) Kavkaz Bakery (1) kids (2) King's Land (1) Korean BBQ (3) La Cascada (1) La Chapina (1) La Flor de Michoacan (1) La Loncheria Mexicana (1) La Mexicana Taqueria (1) lamb (2) Lao Wang Noodle House (1) Las Torgtugas (2) Las Tortas (1) Laughing Ladies (2) LDP (2) Le Trompeau (2) Leandro Cristobal (1) lechón (5) lengua (1) Leobardo's (1) LoHi (1) lonchera (7) longaniza (2) Los Angeles (1) Los Carboncitos (1) Los Farolitos (2) Los Gallitos (1) Los Pastes (1) Los Toritos (1) Lou Malnati's (1) lox (1) lumpia (2) lunch (2) machaca (1) Mama D's (1) Mama Tere (1) mango (1) Map (1) Marco's Coal Fired Pizzeria (1) mariachi (1) Martin Rios (1) Masterpiece Deli (1) Maxwell Street (1) mayonnaise (1) Mexican Canoli (1) Mexican hot dog (1) Mexico City (8) Mexico City Restaurant and Lounge (1) michelada (2) Middle Eastern (6) Mile High Vienna Beef (1) molcajete (1) mole (8) Monte Vista (1) Motulenos (1) Mulli (1) Museo de las Americas (2) mushrooms (1) mussels (1) Navajo taco (1) New Mexican (3) New Siagon (1) Nicaragua (2) nitrogen (1) Nonna's (1) NOT CLOSED (1) old school (1) Ondo's (1) Operation Front Line (2) Orange Crunch (1) Oscar's (1) Osteria Marco (1) oysters (1) paleta (1) pan dulce (5) Panaderia Rosales (1) pancit (2) Parallel 17 (1) Park Burger (1) Paste (1) pastries (1) Pasty (1) Patricia Quintana (1) Patriotic Independence Gathering (1) pepper and egg (1) Peruvian (2) Philippines (3) pho (3) Pho 77 (1) Pho Duy II (1) Phoenician Kabob (2) Piccolo's (1) Pikka's (1) Pinche Tacos (2) Pinche Taqueria (1) pizza (9) Planet Barbecue (1) poblano (1) pollo a las brasas (2) Pomfreet (1) pork (3) poutine (2) pozole (1) pronunciation (1) Puebla (1) Puerto Rico (1) pupusa (5) quesillo (1) recipe (6) Recovery Room (1) Red Tango (1) rice and beans (3) Richard Sandoval (1) Riki Takaoka (1) Rise and Shine (1) roast pig (2) Rosca de Reyes (1) Route 40 (1) Russia (1) Sabor de Mexico (1) Salida (4) salty lemonade (1) Santa Fe (1) sausage (5) seafood (4) Seattle (1) shawarma (2) shrimp cocktail (1) Silla (1) Simpsons (1) smothered (7) sope (1) South American (1) southern colorado (8) Starz Denver Film Festival (3) Steven Raichlen (1) Stevo's (1) street food (9) strip malls (1) Studio F (2) stuffed (1) suadero (1) Sub sandwich (1) Sue of Siam (1) summer food truck boom (3) Sunburst Grill (1) sushi (1) Sustainable Food Film Series (1) sweets (2) Table 6 (3) taco al pastor list (2) taco arabe (1) taco truck (8) taco vampiro (1) Taco Veloz (2) TacoMex (1) tacos al pastor (34) tacos al vapor (4) Tacos Copacabana (1) tacos de canasta (1) tacos de trompa (1) tacos dorados (1) Tacos el Chorizo (1) Tacos El Gordo (2) Tacos El Sampa (1) Tacos Junior (2) Tacos Tijuana (1) Tacos y Salsas (2) Taiwanese (1) tamales (3) Tambien (3) tapas (2) Taqueria el Valle Aurora (1) Taqueria el Valle Denver (1) tarta (1) Taste of Chicago (1) Taste of the Nation (2) Teleras (1) Telluride (1) Tepotzlan (1) teriyaki (1) Thai (5) Thai Avenue (1) Thai Flavor (1) The Bagel Deli (1) The Berkshire (1) The Biscuit Bus (1) The Corner Office (1) The Inventing Room (1) The Pasty Republic (1) The Red Claw (1) Thornton (1) Ticorito (1) Tin Star Cafe Donut Haus (1) Tocabe (1) Toluca (1) Toluca Mexican Restaurant (3) tongue (1) torta (5) torta ahogada (2) torta Cubana (1) torta de tamal (1) Torta Grill (2) torta poblana (1) tortilla (1) Tortisimas (1) travel (14) Tres Pupusas (1) truffle fries (1) Turtux (1) Udi's (2) US Thai (1) Utah scones (1) Venezuelan (2) Victoria (1) Vietnamese (3) vietnamese sandwich (1) vigaron (1) Walsenburg (1) Westword Best Food Blog (1) whiskey (2) Willy's Buffalo Style Hot Wings (1) Xiao Long Bao (2) yuca (1) zombies (1) Zorbas (1)