Simple Mexican Fare on Santa Fe

First Friday Art Walk on Santa Fe (Drive, not New Mexico) works up an appetite

Our award-winning photographer friend Blaine Harrington has some of his marvelous images at John Fielder’s Denver Photo Art Gallery. It’s the first time this widely published photographer has had works in a galley, and what better time to see them than than during the year’s first First Friday Art Walk on Santa Fe?

First Friday Art Walk, Art District on Santa Fe (Visit Denver photo)

We cruised around, unsuccessfully, for a parking space on the street but finally relented and pulled into a $5 private lot. As we were circling, we had passed El Taco De Mexico. My husband, who loves food from just north of, right at and south of the border, said he had heard it was one of Denver’s best, most authentic and reasonably priced Mexican restaurants. We knew we had to try it after the art-viewing was over.

El Taco De Mexico's bright backlit sign, a promise of Mexican authenticity.

We lingered in the photo gallery, of course, but then checked out a bunch of the others two dozen on both sides of Santa Fe Drive between West Seventh and West Tenth Avenues. Crowds filled the galleries and spilled onto the narrow sidewalks.  Ungalleried artists showed their work on the sidewalk. There was music and even fire jugglers in front of a convenience store. The atmosphere was festive, energetic and urban. Why, I asked myself, has it been so long since I’ve been any of Denver’s four monthly Art Walks — and why did it take me so long to gallery-hop on Santa Fe?  I had no answers. The Chicano Humanities & Arts Council fed the spirit, the soul and the stomach (the latter with a taco bar against one wall), but we passed it up in favor of El Taco just down the street.

Chicano Arts Council snack bar would have tempted us, were it not for El Taco De Mexico.

El Taco De Mexico is whistle-clean, unadorned, totally unpretentious and seemingly operated by an all-female crew. There are a few booths, a counter facing the kitchen with menu boards above,  a big patio that must be wonderful when it’s not a winter night and a steady stream of customers for take-out orders. The food is simple, straightforward and inexpensive.

Menu board above the counter stretches nearly wall-to-wall.

In the end, we ordered just two.

Open taco made with chopped beef, chopped tomato, chopped onion and a splash of salsa is simplicity itself.
Chicken chilaquiles made of tortilla chips in the restaurant's fabulous green chili with a line of rice, shredded lettuce, chopped tomato and chopped onion forming a barrier between it and the refritos topped with a bit of shredded cheese.

Price check: Nothing, including the combination plates, is more than $10.  

El Taco de Mexico on Urbanspoon

3 thoughts on “Simple Mexican Fare on Santa Fe”

  1. Sibylle – Is Manuelita’s the one you like best? If so, see and scroll down past the description of the “Hen Hike” are at Uncle Bud’s Hut. A long-gone seasonal eatery ust south of Leadville that I used to enjoy was Burrito! Burrito! It was just a couple of picnic tables next to a roadside stand in front of the owners’ house. La senora cooked and served, while el senor hung around the tables, schmoozing with the customers and playing music on his 9-track console. The food was good and the atmosphere unique — in Leadville, anyway.

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