Fajitas, that strange sounding Tex-Mex fare, is a favorite for Denver diners. It may be the sizzle of the steak on the iron grill that tantalizes, or it could be that what goes in your tortilla is limited only by your imagination including grilled meats, caramelized onions and peppers, pico de gallo or a soft dollop of guacamole. The name fajitas comes from the word “faja,” the Spanish word for girdle, because skirt steak was the most common type of meat used for fajitas. Today, fajitas go well beyond skirt steak to include chicken, shrimp, vegetables and even goat as fair game for the hot-iron skillet and a warm tortilla or two. Here are a few Denver hot spots for fajitas, Colorado style.
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El Camino Community Tavern
3628 W 32nd Ave
Hours: Mon to Thurs – 11 a.m. to 12 a.m., Fri to Sat – 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., Sun – 10 a.m. to 12 a.m.
If you want a hefty portion of sustainability with your fajitas, El Camino is the place to be. From the cilantro to the steak, El Camino tries to source as much local food as possible. This tavern take the green mantra to heart and recycles every possible scrap, all while keeping the neon lights on with wind-powered energy. Fajita options include steak, chicken, shrimp, portabello mushroom or a combination of any variation you choose ($15.95 – $16.95). The tortillas, salsa, guacamole, green chile, tamales and desserts are made from scratch, daily. You will know the place by the pink paint, the blue sign and the sizzle in the food.
Related: Top Mexican Food In Denver
2626 W 32nd Ave
Denver, CO 80211
Hours: Daily – 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
When all you want is a good plate of Mexican food without putting a dent in your wallet, Taqueria Patzcuaro is just the place. Since 1978, it has been making fajitas, tacos and other Mexican specialties. The fajitas come as beef and/or chicken with grilled peppers and onions, guacamole, pico de gallo and tortillas for $11 or $13 for a combo plate. Every week night, Taqueria Patzcuaro features a nightly special, such as pork marinated in avocado sauce or Puntas Ala Mexican, strip steak grilled with onions and tomato, smothered in green chile. It’s a bargain at only $7, including a soft drink, coffee or tea.
4690 Harlan St
Denver, CO 80212
Hours: Mon to Thurs – 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fri – 9 a.m. to 12 a.m., Sat – 9 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., Sun – 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The menu at El Paraiso is six pages long with small type. If you have your heart set on fajitas, skip the fine print and jump right to page six. El Paraiso is not watered-down Mexican food, nor is it Americanized-hipster Tex-Mex food. It is the real deal. The fajitas can be ordered as chicken, beef, pork, shrimp or fish, pretty standard stateside fajitas, but keep reading and you will get to the real-deal fillings like scallops, carnitas, lamb, goat, sweet breads and cactus leaves. Prices vary from $13.25 for traditional fajita fare to $19.49 for the fish, octopus and scallops. El Paraiso is known for platters (called Parrilladas) piled high with seafood, pork chops, chorizo, rabbit, squid and dozens of other not-often-seen Mexican specialties. All platters come with handmade corn tortillas, beans, rice and a salad.
4001 Tejon St
Denver, CO 80211
Hours: Daily – 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
If you’re looking for a place as cool as it is hot, Paxia is your spot. The new restaurant opened recently on Tejon and is fast becoming a regular go-to for creative Mexican fare. The fajitas, with tableside guacamole, get rave reviews from diners, as do the Chiles en Nogada, a stuffed poblano studded with raisins, almonds, pecans and pine nuts, and doused with a walnut cream sauce dotted with pomegranate seeds. Say no more, Denver has a new Mexican hot spot.
Related: Best Margaritas In The Denver Area
La Loma Mexican Restaurant
2527 W 26th Ave
Denver, CO 80211
Hours: Sun to Thurs – 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fri to Sat – 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
From Grandma Mendoza’s famous green chile to the mesquite grilled fajitas, La Loma Mexican Restaurant is about tradition. The centrally located restaurant near the intersection of Speer, I-25 and Federal is a long-time Denver icon that continues to please lunch and dinner customers. The fajitas, whether shrimp, chicken, pork, beef or vegetables, are caramelized to a golden brown and served with a side of roasted jalapeños. Everyone at the table will want to nab a few to spice up their tacos or enchiladas. The tortillas are soft, thick and comforting, and the portions are big enough to take home leftovers. In addition to great food, La Loma specializes in great service.
Tacos, Tequila and Whiskey and accompanying Pinche Tacos Truck
1514 York St
Denver, CO 80206
Hours: Mon – 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., Tues to Sat – 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sun – 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Brunch Sat to Sun – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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While this article focuses on fajitas, technically there is a small blurry line between tacos and fajitas, right? Well in Denver, one cannot talk about Mexican food without mentioning Pinche Taco Truck. If you want to get technical, fajitas are served like a deconstructed taco, and Pinche Taco truck is without question the most popular taco truck around. Some of the best tacos offered are carnitas with roasted pork and pickled onions; triple-cooked crispy Colorado beef tongue with avocado, diced onions and cilantro, roasted tomatillo salsa and guajillo honey mayo; or chipotle and beer-battered fish, slaw, avocado and pineapple guacamole, pickled red onions and lime. If you are still reading this and haven’t grabbed your keys to find the truck, you must not be hungry. If you prefer a sit-down meal, Pinche has a new brick and mortar location called Tacos, Tequila and Whiskey (the city wouldn’t go for the pinche, imagine that). It’s packed on weekends, so be patient because the wait is worth it.
Kimberly Lord Stewart is a food author and journalist for CBS Denver local, Organic Food Reporter for Examiner.com, and the Food, Wine and Spirits editor for Denver Life magazine. Her book, “Eating Between the Lines” tells readers about the truth and myths of food labeling. Stewart is the recipient of two Association of Food Journalist awards for food news reporting and the Jessie Neal Business Journalism award. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.