With awards galore and a second outpost, Kevin Morrison’s Pinche Taqueria can’t get much hotter.
1514 York St.
Elevated Mexican street food bolstered by a strong list of tequilas, mezcals, sotols, whiskeys, and creative cocktails.
Crowds pack the bar and restaurant nightly, so waits are long and the dining room is noisy.
Queso a la plancha tacos, pork belly agrodolce tacos, queso fundido con tequila, chicken chicarrónes, Pinche limeade, churros with Mexican hot chocolate
Price $$ (Average entrée: $11–$15)
Food: 3 stars
Service: 3 stars
Ambience: 2 1/2 stars
Taco trucks are sexy: Their edgy, spontaneous personalities make them intriguing. Their straightforward authenticity is alluring. And the mystery of their whereabouts jumps the excitement quotient.
Chef Kevin Morrison understands the magnetism of the food truck, and he knows how to turn that raw energy into a prosperous business. After launching Pinche Tacos, his highly successful taco trailer, and a brick-and-mortar taqueria in the City Park neighborhood (at press time, a second location in Highland was just opening), Morrison’s momentum is in overdrive. In fact, in the past year, he has earned myriad accolades, including a Best New Restaurants nod from Bon Appétit and a place on our annual list of Denver’s top 25 restaurants.
The success of the 48-year-old Indiana native comes as much from Morrison’s clear, focused cooking as it does from his ability to make the dining room feel as real as the atmosphere around his taco trailer. Take the name: As the story goes, Morrison was in the throes of recipe development for his original truck when he hit upon the idea for a beef cheek taco. As he described the creation—at length—to friends, one reportedly interrupted with, “Just give me that f$#%ing taco!” Pinche Tacos (Spanish slang for the expletive) stuck. But when Morrison applied for a liquor license for the York Street location, the Department of Excise and Licenses nixed the word “pinche.” The official name became Tacos Borrachos—but everyone still calls the restaurant by its unofficial name.
Morrison maintains an equally edgy, urban ambience in the dining room, which fits into its gritty surroundings. With red accent lighting; a long, black slate bar; plank flooring; bare tables; and a floor-to-ceiling chalkboard listing names and descriptions from the tequila collection, the space eschews pretension. Servers, too, are devoid of airs as they encourage diners at both individual and communal tables to join in what feels like a house party. The small space is packed nightly (and for brunch), with diners crowding the bar area and the entrance, lingering sometimes up to two hours for a table. For those waiting, the space can be awkward, but the vibe is loud and friendly with servers seamlessly weaving in and out of the crowd to help make everyone feel as comfortable as possible. Lunch is decidedly tamer.