Perhaps because they’re infinitely customizable, tacos have captured our culinary hearts. We love that they’re just as good prepared by a street vendor and filled with cabeza or carne asada as they are gussied up in a restaurant with duck confit or octopus. We’ve tried them all—some 300-plus tacos between us—to find Denver’s best tacos.
Table of Contents
Alameda Burrito recently expanded from Lakewood to Arvada, which means that taco lovers now have two locations at which to enjoy the ridiculously good shredded beef variety. Generously stuffed with the most tender, succulent beef we’ve sampled and garnished with onion, cilantro, and fried jalapeño and potato, this hauntingly good taco will quickly secure your devotion.
Our favorite location: 5273 W. 64th Ave., Arvada | 303-940-1344
Carniceria y Taqueria La Flor de Michoacan
Head to the back right corner of this tucked-away Thornton market and find a taqueria counter peddling palm-size street tacos. Choose from the list of nine meaty options, but don’t miss the asada for tender steak with just the right amount of char. Douse with the spicy tomatillo salsa.
2001 N. Coronado Parkway, Thornton
The ultimate order (and the one we get more often than we should admit) at D’Corazon is a crispy, hard-shell taco piled high with marinated beef and topped with shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, and a cheddar blend. The flavors are so right-on that there’s no need for salsa or hot sauce.
1530 Blake St., Unit C | 720-904-8226 | dcorazonrestaurant.com
El Amigo Mexican Restaurant
Tacos El Amigo
El Amigo’s eponymous tacos are served four to a plate, each stuffed with shredded beef, perfectly fried, then loaded with fresh cabbage, tomatoes, jalapeños, cucumbers, and sliced avocado. The result is a crunchy yet chewy taco that’s the perfect mix of marinated meat and crisp veggies. Add green tomatillo salsa or the sweet-and-spicy chile de árbol.
16399 S. Golden Road, Golden | 303-279-2633 | elamigoco.com
El Chingon Mexican Bistro
Most versions of carne asada employ ultralean cuts like flap or flank that are cooked well done. Not so at this Berkeley outpost, where the asada taco features a thick nugget of flat iron steak, sliced and cooked to order (we recommend medium-rare). The simple topping of salsa verde, onion, cilantro, and Oaxaca cheese lets the steak shine.
4326 Tennyson St. | 303-248-3641
El Taco De Mexico
Each time we go to “El Taco” we’re reminded why it’s such an institution: Service is nothing if not efficient, the prices are almost embarrassingly low, and the small but mighty cabeza tacos (listed in English as beef cheek) deliver with long-cooked flavor on chewy corn tortillas.
714 Santa Fe Drive | 303-623-3926 | eltacodemexicodenver.com
La Loma Mexican Restaurant
This Denver staple serves the best tacos al carbon in the city. While the tender sirloin tips and the tomato- and-jalapeño-laced gravy are superb, it’s the pastry-like, house-made flour tortillas that take this dish over the top. Add a side order of guacamole and dig in.
2527 W. 26th Ave. | 303-433-8300 | lalomamexican.com
Los Molcajetes Taqueria
“Meat and potatoes” may be shorthand for boring, but when the combo finds its way inside a corn tortilla—like it has at Los Molcajetes—it’s anything but. These distinct tacos feature cubes of aggressively seasoned steak and fluffy potatoes in a flavor combo that manages to both comfort and excite. Spoon on some of the accompanying earthy red salsa for a bit of kick.
100 Knox Court | 303-934-0354
Mexico City Restaurant & Lounge
This downtown restaurant has been slinging its famous fried tacos for 40-plus years. Taste one and you’ll know why it’s a favorite: deep-fried corn tortillas are coated with American cheese, a generous portion of meat (we suggest the steak, which comes with avocado), and topped with lettuce and tomato. Your cardiologist would not approve. Bonus: El Toro (4957 Colorado Blvd.) is owned by the same family—and features the same perfect taco in the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood.
2115 Larimer St. | 303-296-0563 | mexicocitydenver.com
It was a great day in 2006 when Tacos DF went from being a taco trailer to opening a brick-and-mortar on Parker Road. What’s never changed are the real-deal tacos served plainly and proudly. Order the cabeza for meat that is rich in flavor and melty-tender in texture.
2020 S. Parker Road | 303-671-2986
Tacos La Morenita
Since the very best tongue tacos are those where the meat has been crisped, we wonder why more taquerias skip this step. At Tacos La Morenita in Aurora, the caramelized edges offset any mushiness and highlight the meat’s rich, fatty flavors.
15493 E. Hampden Ave., Aurora | 720-379-3058
Among the 20-plus options for taco fillings at this festive spot, the tripe stands out. Order it crispy or soft (we opt for crispy) and hit up the well-stocked salsa bar in the middle of the room for pickled jalapeños, cactus salad, fresh radish, and an array of blazingly hot salsas.
Our favorite location: 1540 W. 70th Ave. | 720-540-3483
Carnitas Estilo Michoacan
At this tucked-away joint, the distinctive tacos al pastor include saucy shredded pork, strips of tender red pepper, and chunks of fresh pineapple. Be sure to top yours with the roasted peanut salsa from the generous bar.
Our favorite location: 3001 W. Evans Ave. | 303-922-2508
Taste Dos Santos’ take on cochinita pibil (Yucatán slow-cooked pork), and you’ll be in taco heaven. For this messy treat, the kitchen braises pork belly in a heady broth of achiote and other spices until meltingly tender. Fried cilantro and house-pickled jalapeño and slivers of red onion add textural contrast and zing.
1475 E. 17th Ave. | 303-386-3509 | dossantosdenver.com
El Camino Community Tavern
Tacos might be rustic, functional, and delicious—but rarely would you call them beautiful. That is until you see El Camino’s al pastor crowned with pickled radish and grilled pineapple. The tang and crunch of the radish combined with the sweetness of the pineapple and the saltiness of the pork creates a bold flavor profile.
3628 W. 32nd Ave. | 720-889-7946 | elcaminotavern.com
The carnitas taco at this Colfax gem is a house favorite. It’s both juicy and crispy, topped generously with cilantro and onion, and served on two freshly warmed corn tortillas with a side of medium green salsa.
508 E. Colfax Ave. | 303-832-1911
La Calle Taqueria Y Carnitas
For a study in delicious simplicity, order the cochinita pibil at this charming taqueria. A double stack of corn tortillas supports a mound of shredded pork and a sprinkle of onion and cilantro. Jazz it up with the good-enough-to-drink green avocado salsa from the bar and sip on the refreshing tepache, a fermented pineapple drink.
1565 W. Alameda Ave. | 720-583-6586
La Mexicana Taqueria
This bustling Highland spot has struck gold with their choriqueso taco, a rich little number starring crumbles of spicy chorizo sausage and melted cheese. Balance out the saltiness with a squeeze of lime, a bit of the smoky chipotle salsa, and an ice-cold michelada.
2538 W. 32nd Ave. | 303-433-3008
La Potranca Taqueria
It’s hard to do, but La Potranca nails this classic combination of rotisserie-cooked marinated meat and sweet pineapple. The barely sweetened and richly marinated pork tucked into double tortillas and garnished with cilantro and onions needs nothing more.
2336 E. 46th Ave. | 303-292-3617
If you’re a purist, look no further than Patzcuaro’s carnitas taco. The slow-braised, Yucatán-style pork at this old-school Denver staple is fatty in just the right way, with lightly crunchy, caramelized bits throughout. A bit of the fresh pico de gallo provides a nice contrast to the richness.
2616 W. 32nd Ave. | 303-455-4389 | patzcuaros.com
Soccoro’s Street Tacos
Good carnitas are never dry, and at Soccoro’s the slowly braised pork is always tender and succulent. Whether you’re dining in or taking out, each taco is carefully composed with fresh lettuce, onion, and thick slices of avocado. Ask for red salsa on the side.
19 E. Bayaud Ave. | 303-777-8226
While the spit-carved al pastor at this mini-chain deserves a mention, order the adovada (red-chile marinated pork), and you may never look back. The earthy spices imbue the sumptuous pork with deep flavor and color, and a bit of the chunky green salsa keeps it bright. Wash it down with a pineapple agua fresca.
Our favorite location: 9277 Federal Blvd. | 303-427-0121
The beauty of well made al pastor is the play between the spices, the pork, and the pineapple. That’s just what you’ll find at this Aurora shop, where the sprawling space is filled with diners enjoying tacos al pastor and several other varieties. Bonus: the best—and freshest—guacamole we tasted during our research.
15343 E. Sixth Ave., Aurora | 303-343-7879
Tortas Y Tacos El Chino
This tiny spot is easy to miss, but find it and you’ll be rewarded with highly seasoned chorizo tacos that have a hint of citrus. Snack on those plus the extra-crispy chips, and you’ll be quickly vow to become a regular. Pay at the window when you’re finished.
796 Peoria St., Aurora | 303-360-8765
Don’t miss happy hour at this Federal Boulevard sit-down spot, where à la carte tacos can be had for just $3 a pop. The star offering is the vegetarian, which is filled with red and green peppers, mushrooms, onions, and jalapeños sautéed with garlic, soy sauce, and chipotles. Add a small spoon-full of the garlic chile oil (there’s a jar at every table) on top for an extra layer of flavor.
2311 Federal Blvd. | 720-287-2296 | chiliverdedenver.com
El Taco Veloz
Nopales, otherwise known as cactus, can be slimy and unpleasant. Not so at El Taco Veloz, where you can order the delicious green strips as a hearty vegetarian taco filling. The slices are juicy, not slimy—and the accompanying pico de gallo is so fresh, you’ll want to pile on even more of it at the salsa bar.
Our favorite location: 400 Federal Blvd. | 303-825-2882
Las Margs Tavern
Finding a vegetarian taco that doesn’t taste like a rework of a veggie fajita (barely cooked peppers and onions) can be a challenge. Enter Las Margs’ rajas, where deeply roasted poblanos and onions mingle with corn, crema, and crumbles of Cotija.
1521 Marion St. | 720-361-2137 | lasmargsdenver.com
At North County, charcoal-grilled poblano peppers and broiled-until-golden Chihuahua cheese combine to form a taco that deliciously bridges the gap between taco and quesadilla.
94 Rampart Way | 720-532-0106 | northcountydenver.com
Tacos Tequila Whiskey (Pinche Tacos)
Queso A La Plancha
If you haven’t had Pinche’s griddled Cotija taco, you haven’t lived. Avocado adds smooth decadence, roasted tomatillo salsa adds addictive depth, and a squeeze of lime cuts the cheese’s saltiness. Sip on a paloma for good measure.
Our favorite location: 1514 York St. | 720-475-1337 | tacostequilawhiskey.com
This vegetarian delight features a crisp, flash-fried baton of tofu, thinly sliced rings of Fresno chile, and shredded romaine lettuce wrapped in a house-made cilantro-corn tortilla. It’s the savory, sesame oil-tinged shiitake vinaigrette (which is more like a chunky mushroom relish), however, that sets this taco apart.
1400 Larimer St. | 720-946-1433 | richardsandoval.com/tamayo
At this vegan-friendly haven in Baker, a plate of no-meat tacos includes three corn tortillas dressed with spice-marinated (chili powder, cumin, garlic, Mexican oregano, paprika) jackfruit, salsa verde, shredded cabbage, onion, cilantro, and lime.
3 S. Broadway | 720-570-4503 | sputnikdenver.com
Agave Taco Bar
Camarón a la Parrilla
The grilled shrimp taco at this Wash Park joint is filled with fresh, citrusy flavors—and an extra dose of heat. Use caution when enjoying this fiery street-style, lime-soaked getup, which is topped with habanero pico, avocado crema, cabbage, and served on a single house-made squid ink corn tortilla.
2217 E. Mississippi Ave. | 303-425-6225 | agavetacobar.com
Although this upscale Latin eatery only offers two taco varieties, the pescado is well worth a visit. The chile-spice seared sea bass brings the heat but the cabbage and chayote escabeche, pineapple, and chipotle crema cool things off. Add a side of the toasted coconut rice because it’s too good to pass up.
24 N. Broadway | 720-550-7267 | lenadenver.com
This trendy cantina is a favorite of the happy hour crowd, but you’ll have to turn to the regular menu to spot the octopus. Order it for a bold take on the taco that combines the slowly braised (and perfectly cooked) seafood with celery and a kicky Sriracha-red pepper coulis.
Our favorite location: 2461 Larimer St. | 303-295-0686 | loschingonesmexican.com
Tarasco’s New Latino Cuisine
There’s a lot to love at Tarasco’s, from the full vegetarian menu to the smoothies and vibrant juices. But we find ourselves craving the simple, fresh shrimp tacos again and again. The breezy dish highlights the juicy, sautéed crustaceans with the straightforward garnishes of onion, cilantro, green salsa, and a lime wedge. It’ll transport you to a beach-y state of mind in no time.
470 S. Federal Blvd. | 303-922-2387
Uno Mas Taqueria y Cantina
Sea of Cortez
While you can’t go wrong with any of the gourmet street tacos from this Pearl Street staple, the Sea of Cortez—with sea scallops and shrimp sprinkled with chili powder and topped with a large slice of avocado, cilantro, ranchera salsa, and Cotija cheese crumbles—is a knockout.
1585 S. Pearl St. | 303-777-2866 | unomastaqueria.com
Los Gallitos Taqueria
Inside this canary-colored taqueria in Athmar Park, you’ll find authentic pulled chicken tacos served on warm, double-stacked corn tortillas with cilantro and onion on top, and a whole roasted poblano on the side. Don’t overlook the salsa bar.
2630 W. Alameda Ave. | 303-955-0175
Tacos Jalisco’s plate of chicken tacos
When a craving for chicken tacos hits, this Berkeley stalwart serves up exactly what we crave: A no-frills plate of four double-stacked warm corn tortillas topped with diced chicken, cilantro, and chopped onion. The real fun starts with the four house-made salsas—a tomatillo-avocado cream, traditional red, pico de gallo, and a seriously intense habanero—which are served with every meal.
4309 W. 38th Ave. | 303-458-1437 | original-tacosjalisco.com
Tacos Y Salsas
Send anyone who says chicken tacos are boring to Tacos y Salsas’ Colfax Avenue location. Here, pulled pollo is crisped on the flattop before landing inside a single (excellent) tortilla. Visit the salsa bar for blistered jalapeños and red or green salsa.
Our favorite location: 9103 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora | 303-367-1046 | tacos303.com
Although they’re all good, you’ll want to make a pilgrimage for the chicken taco. It’s juicy, perfectly flavored, and topped with lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, onion, and cheese. Add a squeeze of lime and layer on the salsa served with chips for table service (beware: the Serrano chile purée has kick), or order to-go from the counter.
1411 S. Sheridan Blvd. | 303-936-4407
Veggie Rolled Taco
Honor Society’s rolled veggie number hits the sweet spot between breakfast burrito and taco. A flour tortilla encases fluffy scrambled eggs, roasted onion, poblano pepper, cilantro, avocado, queso Chihuahua, and Sriracha sauce. Just make sure to get there early—this taco is at it’s best when it’s freshly made.
1900 16th St. | 720-420-0614 | eatwithhonor.com
Onefold’s breakfast tacos
These out-of-this-world tacos (there are three to an order) have layers: House-made flour tortillas form the base for a birds nest of crispy hash browns topped with organic eggs, chopped Tender Belly bacon, and strips of griddled mozzarella. What are you waiting for?
1420 E 18th Ave. | 303-954-0877 | onefolddenver.com
Quijotes Mexican Grill
Quijotes sells its no-meat breakfast tacos all day so even sleepy heads can make a meal out of the scrambled eggs topped with pico de gallo, avocado, cheese, and potatoes. The side of red sauce offers extra heat. Cool it down with slurps of horchata.
1043 N. Broadway | 720-542-8484 | quijotesbroadway.com
Sam’s No. 3
The menu at this diner spans 12 pages, but tucked above the extensive burrito options on page five sit the chorizo tacos. Three corn tortillas arrive piled with potato home fries, a chorizo-egg scramble, and melted Jack and cheddar cheeses. The result is hearty (one taco might fill you up). Add the side of tomatillo salsa at will.
1500 Curtis St. | 303-534-1927 | samsno3.com
Leave it to the Texans to roll out an entire menu of breakfast tacos. The best offering is the migas, which incorporates crispy tortilla strips for a slight crunch. Pro tip: Only order this when there’s no line and the kitchen isn’t slammed; this is the best way to ensure your eggs won’t be overcooked.
1085 Broadway | 303-436-1704 | torchystacos.com
Birrieria El Viejon
Birria de Chivo Especial
Hoof it over to Birrieria El Viejon immediately for the birria de chivo (that’s goat). Try it in the taco “especial,” a pair of griddled house-made yellow corn tortillas that encase molten white cheese and a heaping portion of the stew-y, tender meat. This captivating dish is served with shredded cabbage, red onion, cilantro, and a piquant green salsa—but the goat is so tasty, you might opt to eat it unadorned.
3000 S. Federal Blvd. | 720-490-9327
Griddled Bacon and Jalapeño
It might not qualify as authentic, but the griddled bacon-jalapeño taco at Comida certainly is addicting. Thanks to the melty blend of Cotija, smoked Gouda, and asadero cheeses blanketing the bacon and jalapeño bits, this taco eats more like mini folded quesadilla. A drizzle of salsa verde and crema puts it over the top. Don’t make the mistake of ordering just one.
Our favorite location: 3350 Brighton Blvd. | 303-296-2747 | eatcomida.com
Edge Bar’s sirloin and smoked bacon taco
Sirloin and Smoked Bacon
Among Edge’s modern steakhouse fare rests a gem: the sirloin and smoked bacon tacos. The meatiest of combinations, the wedges of beef and bacon have a smokiness that’s reminiscent of a summer barbecue. They’re served street-style with onion and cilantro. Fair warning: These dudes are only served after 2 p.m. in the bar.
1111 14th St. | 303-389-3050 | edgerestaurantdenver.com
Guadalajara Authentic Mexican Buffet
Visit the buffet tables (yes tables!) and survey the scene. If you see something you like—mole, posole, pulled chicken, garlic shrimp, sopa de mariscos—grab it while you can; the selection turns over constantly. For tacos, it’s make your own—but that’s kinda awesome because no one’s saying you can’t add posole to that bundle of pig snout. The $12.99 price tag ($7 per kid) might seem pricey, but with this all-you-can-eat buffet, it’ll feel like a steal.
11385 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora | 303-344-3862
The Rosedale’s gussied up tacos come loaded with rich pieces of duck confit, citrus cabbage slaw, pickled onion, fresh Fresnos, smoked ricotta, and chimichurri. Talk about gilding the lily.
1135 E. Evans Ave. | 720-961-0320 | therosedaledenver.com
Bison Indian Taco
You’ll need a knife and fork to devour this Native American-inspired taco. Pick your own fillings Chipotle-style, and then savor the warm, fluffy, and slightly sweet house-made Indian fry bread that stands in for the tortilla.
Our favorite location: 3536 W. 44th Ave. | 720-524-8282 | tocabe.com
Work & Class
It’s worth arranging your schedule just to nab one Work & Class’ fried oyster tacos, which are only available during the daily happy hour. The heavily fried bivalve is battered up for optimum crunch, and comes slathered with spicy jalapeño aïoli. It all rests inside a house-made corn tortilla with crunchy slaw. Heads up: You only get one per order, so ask for more.
2500 Larimer St. | 303-292-0700 | workandclassdenver.com
Taco Pricing Key:
$$$: $4 and up