Best Bites: Paxia's Lamb Barbacoa Tacos

February 27 2012, 12:20 PM

It always feels like a special occasion when I eat lamb. Maybe it's because I didn't eat the protein much growing up. My mom's lamb chops are among the best I've eaten, but she only made them every so often. And though the tender meat is one of my favorite ingredients, I typically only order it when I'm out for a nice dinner.

But my latest go-to is more of an everyday dish: the lamb barbacoa tacos at Paxia in Sunnyside. The build-it-yourself plate's centerpiece is 10 ounces of tender, slow-roasted, shredded lamb. (In an ode to the traditional Mexican way of cooking barbacoa, the meat is covered with maguey leaves and rubbed with cascabel, guajillo, ancho, and pasilla chiles, which imparts a perfect ratio of sweet-to-spicy flavor.) The accompanying chopped cilantro and onions, lime wedges, and smooth avocado-tomatillo salsa are additions that complement the tender protein without overpowering it.

But the real star is the side of lamb stew. Leftover lamb jus is combined with garbanzo beans, carrots, potatoes, and roasted jalapeƱo strips for a heady broth that tastes like a Mexican version of French onion soup.

Tip: The tacos are only served on weekends at the restaurant, but you can also find them on Paxia's Denver Restaurant Week menu (through March 9).

4001 Tejon St., 720-583-6860