Tamayo's New Taco Party & Spring Menu

One of the longest-running restaurants on Larimer Square is Tamayo Modern Mexican Kitchen & Tequieria by world-renowned Chef Richard Sandoval. Opened in 2003, the restaurant’s longevity and popularity are a testament to the fantastic food, drinks and service at Tamayo. The ever-innovative menu has been carefully crafted by Chef Sandoval since the start along with the Chef de Cuisine, currently Antonio Tevillo.

Taquiza photo by Matt Ritscher

Taquiza photo by Matt Ritscher

We went in last week to try Tamayo’s new tableside taco experience “Taquiza” translated as “taco party” added as a fun dining experience for groups of four or more. The party starts with Chef Tevillo greeting diners at their table and setting up the taquiza, which is an authentic Mexican taco grill. He then places premium cuts of meats, seasonal accompaniments and tortillas on the taquiza, creating a street taco party from the comfort of your table where diners build their own tacos. The traditional taquiza experience at Tamayo includes grilled skirt steak, beef Cecina, Mexican chorizo, asadero cheese, grilled nopales, charred spring onions, jalapeno, house tortillas, tableside molcajete salsa and traditional garnishments. The premium taquiza upgrades the skirt steak and Cecina to NY Strip and shrimp. This interactive experience is inspired by the authentic taquiza street taco parties of Mexico, where friends and family gather to enjoy tacos, tequila and great company.

Mahi Mahi Ceviche, roasted beet salad (top) and baby kale salad. Photo by Tiffany Candelaria

Mahi Mahi Ceviche, roasted beet salad (top) and baby kale salad. Photo by Tiffany Candelaria

In addition to the new Taquiza option, the standard dinner menu at Tamayo features a wide range of options for eaters and appetites of all types within the following sections: Guacamoles, Antojitos (starters), Sopas y Ensalada, Especialidades, Tacos y Enchiladas. We started with the sweet corn guacamole with chips and salsa to and a variety of amazing margaritas. We recommend the Spicy Mango, the Tamayo or one of their house-infused tequilas mixed into a margarita, like the pineapple-thyme or strawberry-basil. Next, we enjoyed Mahi Mahi Ceviche, the roasted beet salad and baby kale salad with strawberries, which were all so refreshing and flavor-filled.

For our main event, we experienced the taco party and met Chef Padilla who told us all about the ingredients and his joy of cooking at Tamayo. The tacos were fantastic and everyone loved getting to pick and choose their ingredients, one lady even made a mean quesadilla.

We knew dessert was coming, so we saved room for the three treats that arrived: Tres Leches Bread Pudding, Empanadas de Platano and Pastel de Mousse. Holy moly were these all decadently delicious! The pastel de Mousse was the lightest as it is a peanut butter chocolate mousse between crispy layers. The Bread Pudding and banana Empanadas were a true indulgence, served warm and gooey with a small side of ice cream. Try it with a cup of café or an after-dinner digestivo.

Tres Leches Bread Pudding & Empanadas de Platano

Tres Leches Bread Pudding & Empanadas de Platano

You can’t go wrong with their daily Happy Hour either from 2-6pm that includes $4 beers and $5 select margaritas, $2 Taco Tuesdays, and Bottomless Margarita Brunch every Saturday & Sunday from 10:30am-2:30pm.

http://www.eattamayo.com

Words & photos by Tiffany Candelaria

Korean BarbieQ Pop Up Experience

Last weekend, the vacant restaurant space beneath Larimer Square transformed into a special pop-up experience themed around Korean BarbieQ. Odd concept, but cool creation that blended Barbie-themed decor and drinks with Korean barbecue. The pop up experience returns again this Thursday through Saturday August 25th, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. at 1414 Larimer, Denver. Tickets include dinner and drinks - get tickets here:  https://www.thricepopup.com/#tickets

After this weekend, the BarbieQ will then be deconstructed to make way for another pop-up concept by OZ Architecture Associate Principal and Director of Brand Experience Design Abigale Plonkey. “I’ve always wanted to create a pop-up event, and I’ve seen them successful in New York and LA and thought this was an opportunity to bring it to Denver,” Plonkey said. "So we came up with the concept of Thrice — food, drink, design. It always has to have those three elements to make it unique. It can’t just drink, it can’t just be food and it can’t just be about design.” Chef Bill Espiricueta of Smok is preparing the food for this pop-up, and Shawn Campbell, lead bartender at El Five, curated the cocktails.

After the Korean BarbieQ wraps up this weekend, be on the lookout for the next concept — Cosmotropical, a David Bowie-inspired event where outer space meets tiki bar. The decor will focus on astronomy and have lots of neon. The third event will be Chroma, during which the room will change colors as different courses are served!

Photos by Josh Stephens

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

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/

La Güera | High End Eats Meet Low Prices

You probably know by now the Ultra5280 staff loves tacos and that we also love delicious but affordable food. While there are many great places in Denver for tasty tacos, mile high nachos, and cheesy quesadillas, there aren’t as many that serve it in style and at a great price.

 LA GUERA - DENVER

This Mexican beauty is internationally known chef-restaurant owner Richard Sandoval’s newest culinary venue, La Güera. It’s styled as a casual gastro-cantina with an order up counter by day, perfect for short lunch breaks, but transforms come 5pm into a more swanky, sit down, full-service restaurant. However, no matter the time from 11am-11pm the affordable, a la carte menu remains. The prices get even better between 3-7pm Monday through Friday during Happy Hour though, when you can get the quesadillas, nachos, tacos, margaritas, beers and wine for a fine $4!

Starters at La Güera include Crispy Bacon Guacamole and Tortilla Soup, which we had to try. The bacon guacamole is fully loaded with bacon crumbles, onion, pico de gallo, cilantro and cotija cheese, to the point where every one of those ingredients are in each scoop you take. The Tortilla Soup was thick, flavorful and not spicy, which really surprised us that it didn’t have cream added. Instead it was all just hearty, healthy chilies! Taking the soup to the next level is shredded chicken, avocado chunks, crema fresca and tiny tortilla strips. This soup is a must get, and for $3 I seriously don’t know where you could find a better soup, at this size, at this price. Really, I’ve been on a soup hunt since our first dusting of snow. 

Antojitos are the main courses here and display the inventive cuisine for which Sandoval has become famous, yet in the form of favorites you crave when heading to a Mexican restaurant. You’ll find Carne Asada Sopes, Chicken Flautas, Enchiladas, Nachos and seven types of tacos.  We tried the veggie taco with roasted peppers, guacamole, and smoky seasoned pumpkin seeds. It was a delicious dish with winter warming flavors. The chicken enchilada was also good, but not drenched in a red or green sauce like you usually see. Instead it had pickled chilies and a light dollop of sour cream, cheese and salsa on top. The chicken flautas were also tasty and topped with chopped romaine and pico de gallo that added some healthy freshness to chicken wrapped in a deep fried shell. We also thought it important to try one of the less traditional Mexican dishes on the menu, perhaps a Sandoval original, the Tlayudas. This was described as a Mexican pizza, and while it comes close in appearance it’s very different in taste. Instead of dough it has a crispy, thin corn base then bean puree is spread on and topped with Oaxaca cheese, pico, salsa, and avocado. You can also add on spicy shrimp, chapulines, or chorizo. Sandoval displays his creative talent yet again with this Mexican pizza.

While at first glance the menu may seem small, that’s really just the size of the paper fooling you. The menu covers all the bases and leaves room for the sweet stuff with a couple of homemade desserts and Aguas frescas, Café, cocktails, craft beers, wine and more than 200 tequilas! And if all this isn’t reason enough to go, the interior ambiance of the place is really inviting, comfortable and fun. Inspired by the streets of Mexico, La Güera features hand painted murals from local artists, Mexican blankets on the booths, and other thoughtful touches. All of these qualities were important to Sandoval in creating La Güera as a place people could come to relax and transport themselves away from their busy days, whether it just be for quick lunch or for a leisurely dinner or drinks with friends. We definitely recommend you go try La Güera, as it offers many great eats one would find at a refined Mexican restaurant with ambiance to match, but with prices you’d expect at a hole in the wall. Viva los tacos!

 LA GUERA - DENVER

http://www.richardsandoval.com/laguera/

Tiffany Candelaria

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