Sometimes, however, you just want a heaping plate of cheese, meat, beans, tortilla, sour cream and lettuce (avocados optional). There are days when nothing but authentic Mexican food will sate the hunger growing in your belly.
This is one area, however, where Boulder is lacking. Where do you go to find authentic Mexican food in Boulder?
Sure, there are great modern places like T|aco (which I only recently discovered is pronounced “Tee-aco”; here I was calling it “T-bar-aco”) and Centro that serve modern twists on the classics. But I’m talking, hole-in-the-wall, telenovelas blaring on the TV, Mexican Coke in glass bottles Mexican food.
This article is dedicated to those sorts of establishments. It doesn’t mean I don’t think that Agave, Tahona and Rio Grande aren’t fantastic eating establishments; they just don’t fit the qualities that I’m looking for in this piece.
Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina
Long celebrated as some of the best Mexican food in Boulder, Efrain’s is a little bit of a drive to the outskirts of Boulder, but fans say it’s worth it. There is typically a bit of a wait due to its notoriety, but once you get a taste of their food, the wait will have been worth it. It’s also recommended that you try the Pink Cadillac Margarita.
Restaurante 100% Mexicano
Nestled in next to the DMV on the Diagonal Parkway, 100% Mexicano pretty much describes exactly what you’re going to get. This place features a wide variety of Mexican favorites that are fresh and fantastic. The gorditas are not what Taco Bell would have you believe they are. It’s actually made with a masa cake, not unlike an arepa.
If you’re dining at La Choza, bring extra napkins and get ready for some in car dining. You see, this tiny little shack, also just off the Diagonal, only has room for a kitchen and a cashier. It’s located right next to a gas station, but people line up for breakfast and lunch here every day. The tacos and burritos are delicious and affordable (even by non-Boulder standards). Be sure to try one of their most popular items, the Jambo burrito.
Another Boulder staple that’s been around for years, this has been the quintessential Mexican restaurant since 1994. It’s a great place to grab a burrito or taco and enjoy free serving of chips and salsa before the meal arrives. Extra bonus: they also deliver, so you can satisfy your MexiCraving without leaving home.
In East Boulder, right around 55th and Arapahoe, buried in a shopping center (beware the parking situation in this lot, it is apparently a beast of a chore), lies Pica’s, which serves up fresh, healthy tacos with heaping helpings of ingredients. Many patrons swear by the shrimp tacos, so you’d be wise to make that selection.
The entire premise of hole-in-the-wall Mexican joints makes them harder to find than many other restaurants, so if you’ve got another favorite, by all means, add it to this list in the comments.
Now go enjoy some complimentary chips and salsa, drink a margarita and enjoy a meal that will leave you full and happy. There’s a bit more authentic (or bordering on authentic) Mexican food in Boulder than you might have imagined!