Our Journey To A Place Called Tacolandia

Tacos and lowriders. (Photo Credit: Samantha Bliss)

Tacos and lowriders. (Photo Credit: Samantha Bliss)

As we have mentioned on many occasions we are pretty big fans of tacos here at Ultra5280. From al pastor to carnitas any edible morsel of goodness that can be filled in a warm tortilla we are big fans of. This year we were fortunate enough to cover another edition of Tacolandia presented by our good friends at Westword.

We had pretty large helpings of the vast selection of some of the cities best taco establishments. It is hard to pick a favorite amongst the wide selection so we will just say we enjoyed them all. What is becoming a taco lovers destination event was once again filled with food, music, a car show and an outrageous lucha libre ring.

Mariachi America (Photo Credit: Robert Castro)

Music from Mariachi America had everybody dancing to the rhythms of salsa and cumbias, while fellow Denver spanish rock bands such as iZCALLi and Los Mocochetes brought the local flavor. Members of the Saints and Sinner Car Club had their finest whips (it's what the cool kids say instead of cars) on display. With candy coated paint jobs to dizzying chrome wheels. The event is always a favorite of ours and if you have never been we suggest you mark it in your calendar asap for next year.

All the tacos. (Photo Credit: Samantha Bliss)

The proud traditions of the latino culture were on display. (Photo Credit: Robert Castro)

Photo Gallery 1: Samantha Bliss (Staff Photographer)

Photo Gallery 2: Robert Castro (Editor in Chief)

Top Taco | Showcase of the Best Tacos in Denver

Once a year when summer finally starts, Top Taco takes Denver as the largest taco and tequila festival. In its fifth year, over 60 local restaurants participate in serving up hundreds of their top tacos and cocktails to hungry Denverites. The event has grown into a large-scale taco and tequila extravaganza with two live music stages, lucha libre wresting, lounge areas, lots of giveaways from the booths and vendors, and some of the best chefs and mixologists in Denver. Be sure to scroll the gallery below.

A ticket provides guests unlimited tacos and drink samples, and there are over 50 brands of tequila and other spirits served straight and/or in cocktail form to get you every penny’s worth of your ticket price. There’s also plenty of water and other non-boozy beverages available to keep you in check, in fact, this festival wins for best water stations and tasting trays of any foodie festival I’ve been to. There were large coolers set up around the grounds full of ice and water bottles, and I never saw them run low. Everyone receives a tray upon entry, and they were properly sized, made of sturdy plastic, and had a great built in cup holder. These trays let you fit a few tacos, a cocktail, and a shot on your tray before retreating to eat.

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While we’ll get to the judge’s choice and people’s choice winners, we want to tell you which tacos and cocktails we thought were standouts! If you’re game for rabbit, you’ve got to try the rabbit taco with crunchy potato from Lola Coastal Mexican. I actually went back for another later in the night and one of their bright hibiscus margaritas. The Edge Steakhouse served a high-end steak taco with bacon that was so flavorful and juicy. Their thyme infused margarita was also one of our favorites because it had a nice balance of flavors and wasn’t overly sweet like many of the other drinks we tried. For Most Creative, Range served a Mediterranean style taco on a pita with taziki and radish. For the Traditional taco category our favorites were Adelitas Cocina, Comida, Que Bueno Suerte and Uno Mas Taqueria.

Now for the Judges and People’s Choice winners, and these may have been the best, but apparently we didn’t make it to the winning taco tables – there was just so much to do, and drink, and eat!! For Traditional Taco Los Dos Potrillos Mexican Restaurant took first place from the judges, but Adobo Food Truck won People’s Choice. Necio Latin Eatery won Judge’s Best Creative Taco and Dos Santos won their Best Vegetarian vote. The Top Cocktail winner was from Former Saint (inside Hyatt Regency), Los Chingones took second, and in third place was Los Dos Potrillos Mexican Restaurant (they also won best traditional taco).

Just like Top Taco festival, Denver has a ton of taco restaurants that deserve a visit. Tacos are cheap (usually), so go out and eat and find your favorites. Top Taco 2018 supported Denver Urban Scholars, a non-profit service organization, that partners with high poverty, high performing schools to unlock the potential of students facing added challenges by creating individual pathways to career and college.

Written by Tiffany Candelaria     Photos by Bridget Burnett

Tacolandia's Top Tacos And More

One of the many tasty tacos at Tacolandia. (Photo Credit: Robert Castro)

Tacolandia put on by Westword was a fiesta to say the least. The festival celebrated authentic street tacos by offering unlimited samples from over 40 taquerias and Mexican restaurants around Denver. Guests also enjoyed live entertainment, a car show, cash bars and great people watching in the heart of Civic Center Park.

Taco pimps slanging their warm tortillas with morsels of heaven. (Photo Credit: Robert Castro)

A VIP ticket gave you early access to the festival grounds, which was worth it, depending on how fast you can eat tacos. A full hour of early entry without the lines caused us to go into a taco-eating frenzy, followed by a taco coma. The coma timing was just right, coinciding with GA entry at 4pm, whence we made our way over to the VIP section to relax at a nice table in the shade, with drinks of course. VIP tickets included 2 cocktail or sangria drinks and a Bud Light, which pays for itself at most events where beers and cocktails are $7+, which was the case at Tacolandia. The VIP ticket holders were also treated to Lola Costal Mexican based in the Highlands. They had three tacos to choose from, including one of the only fish tacos we saw at the event, a "sustainably sourced red fish". After picking your tacos you moved to a toppings table with different salsas, a Serrano creama, kimchee vegetables, hot carrots, onions and cilantro. And last, they provided two aguas frescas, one a cherry base and one with a medley of melons. Those were delicious and so very vital on a hot day full of hot tacos!

Los Chingones with our favorite taco of the day. (Photo Credit: Robert Castro)

One of the non-traditional tacos featured Octopus. (Photo Credit: Robert Castro)

So let’s talk top tacos, because we all want to know where to eat bomb tacos in Denver. El Tejado was notable, as not only did they give you three tacos, but they were so tasty! They also had a very homey, welcoming feel, which translated in everything we tasted there.  Los Chingones served up one of the best looking tacos, with a colorful veggie slaw, pineapple and cilantro atop seasoned short rib. This taco was one I wanted to eat over and over again, but literally couldn’t because we had to try as many tacos as possible. Garibaldi's had a red chorizo taco that was so simple (there were no toppings, maybe they ran out) yet so delicious. Whatever they season their chorizo with and soak it in made it very flavorful, juicy/greasy(?) and so red that the juices stained our hands! Chuey Fu's food truck was onsite with four different taco options: roasted corn & black bean, char shu pork, Korean beef & the ancho chicken taco with peanut sesame sauce that was one of our favorites. Our final favorite was not a taco at all, but a shrimp ceviche from Suerte. Simple, fresh, and traditional.  Overall, there were only a couple veggie tacos, a couple seafood items, we found a lamb taco, but mostly it was beef and pork varieties with onions and cilantro as the popular topping.

Overall the event was a success, as we heard from random attendees that it was an easy decision to purchase GA tickets to the event and that they had in fact eaten enough tacos to make the price a bargain. Despite most lines becoming enormous once general admission was let in and vendors running out before close, we still heard happy remarks for the most part.

Aside from tacos, there were vendors sampling some tasty treats. (Photo Credit: Robert Castro)

Tacos and Classic Cars = A match made in heaven. (Photo Credit: Robert Castro)

Plus, in addition to tasty tacos, the GA sections also offered refreshing treats and drinks from Jarritos, Neveria Jadeney, Little Man Ice Cream and Aiko Pops. There was also live music, dance performers and the Tacolandia Car Show presented by the Saints & Sinners Car Club and seating options throughout so people could relax, eat, dance, etc.

We’ll be back, and we suggest you come VIP with us!

https://www.westwordtacolandia.com/

Tacos, Tequila and Margaritas. Top Taco Returns To Denver!

Top Taco Festival Often Imitated Never Duplicated!

Last Thursday Denver local restaurants and vendors gathered in RiNo for a evening of tacos, tequila, music, and plenty more. We left with full, happy bellies and slightly sad livers as we tried to take advantage of everything Top Taco had to offer!

VIP attendees were able to access the event and all of it’s taco glory an hour before the GA patrons flooded in. Since we’re, ya know, a pretty big deal around here, we were lucky enough to snag a few VIP access tickets. We made sure to make as many stops as we could. A nice base layer for the many tequilas to come, if you will. Judging by the silent disco, we had an idea of who was there for the margaritas and tequila only.

Illegal Pete's with the bomb shrimp tacos!

Tacos Tequila Whiskey blessed us first with a tasty “Desert Rose Paloma.” Sweet, tangy and the large volume left us light on our feet and excited for what else was to be discovered. After we were handed a few mysterious tacos, later learning they were goat tacos. We were not fans. MOVING ON! We made our first real taco stop to see our good friends at Illegal Pete’s. On the menu was a tofu taco and a sweet sriracha shrimp taco. Throughout the day we made several returning stops to their booth for the sriracha shrimp taco. This was by far one of our favorite Top Taco tacos. It was surprisingly simplistic but so flavorful. The marinated shrimp was the perfect combination of sweet and spicy, and lightly topped with cabbage left no frilly distractions from the delicious meat. Illegal Pete’s used this opportunity as a test run as they may add the sriracha shrimp to their menu! Make sure to let them know how awesome it was if you got a chance to try it!

All The Tacos!

Downtown Denver’s La Loma satisfied our sweet tooth with warm churros drizzled in chocolate sauce. They were a crowd favorite as we failed to even get seconds of the treat! South Broadway’s Palenque Mezcaleria had a bomb ass ceviche. You would never think mango and shrimp would go so well together but they made it happen!

Pineapple Express from Patron!

Feeling the need for a boozy refreshment, we made our way to the Blue Nectar tent to sample some tasty, craft tequila. It’s a hard life, really. Our favorite was the dark, musky añejo. After a few laps through the main event area, it was on to see what the VIP area had to offer! Patron promotions were in full force with a boomerang photo scene set up and two bars offering craft margaritas. The Pineapple Express marg was tart and refreshing! We got to observe the trendy, fresh-rolled ice cream making process and eat the cookies and cream treat. Ice cream at a taco festival, who would have thought? (Next year hoping for Choco Tacos)

Owl Bear serving up delicious BBQ Brisket Tacos to the VIP crowd!

The added cost of VIP was worth it as luxury trailer bathrooms were provided as well as access to a handful of BBQ taco vendors. Owl Bear provided for one of those moments you realize why you were put on this Earth, and that is to enjoy their heavily brisket taco that almost melted in our mouth. (Patiently waiting for their brick & mortar location to open)

Don't stop until we say so!

If you love modern mexican cuisine and craft cocktails, this isn’t an event to miss! We’re already anticipating next year’s Top Taco! We’ve added the compiled list of all winners from Dining Out! Be sure to check it out when making decisions about your next taco Tuesday spot in the mile high city!

http://diningout.com/denverboulder/the-winners-of-top-taco-2017/

Tacolandia: The Blueprint For a Perfect Taco Festival.

Let's "taco bout" this amazing event.

Our fair city is slowly becoming a hub for all things considered tacos. With the rise of niche owned restaurants as well as out of town chains (Torchy's and R Tacos), it's pretty easy to find a good taco in Denver nowadays. Now when it comes to taco festivals...well those can be hit or miss. We have attended our fair share of decent festivals (Top Taco) as well as some pretty (Denver Taco Festival) nightmarish ones. At this point our taco expert staff has come up with three essential ingredients to pull of a great festival.

1. Location, location, location.

2. Organization and variety.

3. Other activities (music, car shows, games, dancing, etc.).

The colorful Baile Folklorico dancers on hand.

A perfect venue should include plenty of space, a decent amount of grass, plenty of shade and for fun maybe throw it at the home of the defending Super Bowl champions. Tacolandia had all of the above (could have had a bit more shade, who are we to complain we had VIP treatment and an umbrella table all to ourselves). The layout was set up perfectly along the Noble Energy Sports Legend Mall, typically reserved for an epic tailgate experience during Sundays. A green patch of grass separated two sides of the festival with taco slanging experts stationed on each side. A stage was setup within the middle providing for entertainment the whole day (more on that below).

Peyton Manning is enjoying himself after retirement.

This was hands down one of the most organized taco festivals we have ever attended. Along with great organization was the amount of variety options to choose from. Albeit we got in an hour before everybody else we were able to hit up about 80 percent of the taco tastings before we had to shut it down due to the possibilities of heat stroke and the overdose of tortilla filled morsels of heaven. The people at Westword handled everything pretty well, although lines did build up at various points, they seemed to move quickly from station to station. The VIP section was placed towards the back of the mayhem and could have used an extra station or two for beverages in this case Estrella Jalisco's (name drop). All in all great organization and an abundance of choices to select from.

This Camaro tho!

A good festival always has various different activities to do while enjoying the fest itself. This one had it all from traditional Baile Folklorico dancers, to a car show that would make Jay Leno jealous, to great music to compliment the great cultural event. Music by iZCALI (one of our favorite local groups) provided some good ol' fashion Spanish rock. Cars from every era adorned the back lot of the festival with some awesome customized automobiles that had us drooling like this Camaro above.

Some of our favorite tacos:

Best Fish Taco-Southside Kitchen

Best Al Pastor-EL Aguascalientes and Los Chingones

Best Korean Pork-Ursula's Food Truck

Best BBQ-R Tacos

Best Mexican Street Corn-Lola's

Best Cabrito (Goat) Tacos-Work and Class