Cinco de Mayo 2021: Best Tacos in Denver

Cinco de Mayo is an annual celebration that commemorates the Mexican victory against the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. This day is commonly mistaken, particularly by people outside of Mexico, as a celebration of Mexican independence, which actually took place over 50 years prior to the Battle of the Puebla and is commemorated on September 16th. In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has evolved from a day of historical remembrance to a celebration of our country’s Mexican heritage. What better excuse to get together with friends and family and enjoy some delicious Mexican food and drink? Colorado historically has a strong Hispanic influence and we are lucky to have a ton of tasty options for authentic Mexican cuisine, including some of the best tacos you will ever eat. Read on to hear about some of my favorites.

Uno Mas 

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Uno Mas is one of my ADP clients (make sure you tell Brian I sent you). Not only do they create amazing dishes (hello, Duck Confit Street Taco), but they are doing it in a sustainable way. All of their produce is sourced from local farms, and they buy the finest cuts of meat from local producers. Head Chef Patrick even sends his staff to Mexico to be educated in the production of their 70+ tequilas and mezcals, which are made in small batches only. 

This is definitely where the party’s at for Cinco de Mayo! Their Cap Hill location (6th and Clarkson) will have the parking lot closed off for a DJ, outside bar, dunk tank, and a Pacifico gizzly cooler raffle (you’ll want this for summer). They’ll even have some birds of prey out and about (falcons, hawks, etc.)

All Uno Mas locations (6th Ave, South Pearl, Fort Collins) will be doing $6 margs, $7 beer + shots, and limited edition herradura blanco bottles with Uno Mas’s logo engraved on them for $45. If you’re looking for a good time, you’ve found it!

Los Chingones

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Los Chingones, which translates to “The Badasses,” certainly lives up to its name! The RiNo location is decked out in true fiesta fashion, its brick walls emblazoned with bright colors and sugar skull imagery. But the food is even more badass. Try the Carne Asada taco: warm corn tortillas stuffed with mojo steak, grilled onion, and chipotle crema. Their chicken taco is also badass! Add a $5 house marg during Happy Hour, a free basket of chips and Rooster Salsa, and you’re all set. They now have four locations: RiNo, DTC, Central Park, and Colorado Mills.

Lola Coastal Mexican

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This is one of my favorite spots in Denver regardless of the day, but this will be a top spot for Cinco de Mayo! They will be preparing a whole pig cochinita pibil. If you haven’t tried cochinita pibil – you need to. In it’s original form, cochinita pibil is a Mexican slow roasted pork dish, marinated with delicious acidic citrus juices, wrapped in a banana leaf, roasted underground. It’s to die for, trust me.

Lola has a ton of other delicious options on their menu, the “Taco Board” being one of my favorites. Choose from three delicious tacos (my fav is the Al Pastor) your trio arrives on a rustic wooden board for you to construct your tacos yourself. Each board comes complete with a side of street corn (drool).  They will be serving margaritas galore today as well as to-go Patron Margaritas from the walk-up window. 

Can’t make it out today but don’t want to miss out on something tasty Mexican fare? How about Tacos for brunch!? Make sure you visit my guy Matt, who bartends at Lola on Saturdays and Sundays during their brunch hours, he’ll take phenomenal care of you! Happy Hour M-F 4-5:30pm and 2-4pm on Saturday & Sunday.

Barbed Wire Reef and Food Trucks

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This is another ADP client of mine and another great spot. Rico (the owner) is the man, and takes pride in cooking up some fabulous unique dishes! The Carnivore Menu at Barbed Wire Reef Restaurant and Food Trucks is anything but typical. Their delicious and unusual take on tacos includes wild boar, octopus, and cactus. Of course, they also serve more traditional proteins, like chicken tinga and beef barbacoa. They will have a TON of specials today for Cinco de Mayo including: $5 house margs, $5 tacos (includes two), $8 Dobel Premium margs, $8 Dobel Diamante shots, $8 El Toro (tequila and red bull shots).

If you can’t make it in for Cinco de Mayo, the celebration will continue this weekend, check out their live DJ on Saturday May 8th.

Adelitas Cocina Y Cantina

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Adelitas on Broadway wants you to feel like you’ve had a meal cooked by Mom, and they certainly succeed. Generous portions of traditional, comforting food are served in this unassuming location, whose outside wall features a vaquera on her horse. If you like your Mexican food the traditional, smothered-in-sauce-and-beans-and-rice-and-cheese kind of way (and who doesn’t?), this is your place. For Cinco de Mayo they will be featuring food and drink specials all day and have Happy Hour from 3-6pm. If you can’t make it out today Adelita’s still offers their famous and delicious $1 street tacos for Taco Tuesday!

Dos Santos 

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This place is honestly one of my top choices. One look at the menu, and you’ll understand why. Street Tacos with unique and delicious flavor combinations are what set this place apart. I actually dream of their O.M.F.G taco. Oh my f***ing G is right – Ahi tuna wrapped in bibb lettuce, topped with avocado, cilantro, cabbage, poke aoili, yum. They also have a selection of vegetarian options: carrots simmered in mole sauce, roasted cauliflower, and crimini mushrooms garnished with table-side guac, cotija cheese, and housemade salsa won’t have you missing meat one little bit. I’m a sucker for their spicy margs as well!

Machete Tequila + Tacos

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Machete in Cherry Creek is another personal favorite. They also have two downtown locations: Colfax and Union Station. They have one of the largest selections of street tacos I have encountered, and everything I have tried has been delicious. Their seafood options are especially good: grilled shrimp, lobster tail, mahi mahi, and cod are all on the menu and served in a squid ink tortilla. If you’re in a group, they offer a build-your-own taquizas option: twelve tacos for $49. May I also suggest the “Tequila Flight?” Three 1 oz pours of Silver, Reposado, Mezcal, or Anejo served with fresh orange or lime wedges.  

El Camino

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Too bad Cinco de Mayo is on a Wednesday this year, because you can’t beat El Camino for Taco Tuesdays. You can enjoy five of their delicious tacos for $1 each: red chile-braised brisket, pork simmered in orange and coriander, and shredded chicken spiced with nutty achiote. They also have an array of refreshing cocktails. Try the Grapefruit Fresca, made with house-infused grapefruit tequila, orange liqueur, agave nectar, fresh lime juice, and soda water. 

Blue Agave

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Let’s start with drinks. Blue Agave has a “Wine Down Wednesday” when bottles of wine are half-price and margaritas are $3 with the purchase of an entre. Pair your drink with one of their amazing mango fish tacos or, for a little flare, order the En Fuego: skirt-steak is flame broiled tableside in tequila. Not related to Cinco de Mayo, but, they are also a great place to catch a UFC fight!

Kachina Cantina

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Kachina features Oaxacan-inspired tacos with a twist. They have a great deal where you can enjoy a plate of any three tacos with rice and beans for $15. Wagyu brisket, tequila carnitas, and crispy mahi mahi are just a few options. I suggest making your tacos “Navajo” with fry bread for .50 extra – get there early – this option is popular and can sell out. Add in a juicy Blood Orange Margarita or a fresh Shilowa Sangria. 

La Loma Mexican Kitchen

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La Loma’s has margaritas by the pitcher and an absolutely delicious version of Tacos Carbon. Tender sirloin tips are braised in a jalapeno and tomato salsa and served in a warm flour tortilla. A serving includes three tacos and rice and beans. So yummy. This family owned restaurant is a Denver staple, and has been serving some of the best Tex-Mex and Mexican favorites you can find in the city for over 3o years!

My Neighbor Felix

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Felix’s food offerings are designed to be paired with one of their signature Mexican cocktails. Try the slow-braised pork with citrus cabbage, chicharones, and pibil jus with a refreshing elderflower and coconut margarita. If you’re in a group give their ‘Megarita’ a try – their 56oz margarite (frozen or on the rocks). One of my favorite things about My Neighbor Felix is the location. Sitting pretty in the LoHi neighborhood you’ll have a beautiful view of downtown. This place is a vibe! Sit back and enjoy the low-key atmosphere and cozy decor.

Mexico City

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Home of the Fried Taco,” Mexico City has been serving authentic Mexican food to Denver for over 65 years! Choose your protein (beef, chicken, or steak) and enjoy a decadent version of the crunchy taco, topped with melted cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes. Pair it with a corona and lime, and it is the perfect, simple meal. 

Rio Grande

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How can I not mention the Rio? The Rio is a Denver staple, and it ticks all the boxes for a delicious meal out. The taco selection includes beer-braised carnitas and a delectable vegetarian option with shishito peppers and a fried chile relleno. They are famous for their house margaritas, which are crisp, clean, and very generous with the tequila (so generous there’s a limit on how many you can order). Enjoy responsibly!

Whenever you land today – please follow the recommended guidelines for masks, social distancing, and Ubers! Also, don’t forget to take care of your bartenders and waitstaff.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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