Monday, September 17, 2012

Is it me? Another bad taco lunch in Colorado.

Santiago's - Denver

I've been going to Santiago's for years. Only a few bucks in the car console?  That equals a chicken, rice and green chili burrito including a drink.  Need breakfast burritos for the drive up to Folsom Field for a CU Game?  Our car always pulls in to Santiago's. 

Guess what?  Never in all my visits have I had a taco from Santiago's.  In fact I wasn't sure if tacos were on the menu.  Also this was my first time actually eating there.  They have several locations in the city and most, I believe, are to-go only.  The one on this visit was Santiago's on Leetsdale where they offer dine-in. 

The place was a nightmare.  It wasn't overly busy, but I had to ask customers what to do as nobody who worked there was welcoming.  Do you seat yourself? Is there a waitress or do you order at the counter?  I'm sure the 3 tables I asked these questions to were happy to have some stranger interrupt their lunch.  Finally after 7 minutes I got up to get myself my own menu.  Eventually the waiter came over and it was basically what do want?  How hard is it to be friendly these days? 

Placed my order for the Tacos Al Carbon, and wishing instead for my usual chicken and rice burrito.  The price tag was $8.95 for the taco plate and my burrito is always $2.50.  I'm just so over these places charging almost $9 for 3 tacos.  Nobody wants the beans or rice.  Charge me $6 for 3 tacos! 

The food finally arrives.  3 soft corn tortillas (greasy as all heck), filled with grilled steak that was so rubbery that I couldn't get through two bites. Some pico, beans.... Check please.  I mean that's it.  I couldn't stomach 2 bites of this stuff.

So what do I say?  What do I tell people to do when deciding on Santiago's?  I'm not sure if it was this particular location and that if I go to Santa Fe or Broadway I'm going to get the best tacos in the city, or if it's the wrong item to order at any of the locations.  If I order my standard breakfast burrito from this Leetsdale location next time, is it going to totally suck?  What's a person to think?  This is where consistency comes in with these chain restaurants.  You can't have the best people with smiling happy faces working at your S. Broadway store and then the unhappy bunch at Leetsdale.  Same for food!

More than likely I will NEVER order tacos ever again at Santiago's.  I will never go to the Leetsdale location either.  So what can I say?  If you want a breakfast burrito, Santiago's in Englewood and over on Santa Fe is excellent.  Need tacos?  I would not send you here. Sorry management at Santiago's.  It was that bad. 

So my September rut continues.  I haven't had this many bad experiences in bad tacos since spending some time in Florida.  I think I need to take a break from exploring for the rest of the month and regroup for October.  I'm only going to visit places where I know I'll get great service, good food and decent prices.

Santiago's website:

Monday, September 10, 2012

Jack-n-Grill should be called Bland-n-Not Good

Denver, Colorado

You know how you get all excited to go to one of your favorite places to eat? 

That was me the other day.  We decided to go to Tamales by La Casita in the Denver Highland neighborhood.  It was the perfect plan.  I was definitely getting a shredded beef burrito this time. My pal, I'm sure, would order the green chili.  The plan would have been great if we didn't take a detour to a local bar to do 2 rounds of cocktails. 

After cocktailing it, we walked over to La Casita.  On approach, the people we could see in the windows eating dinner, made us that much more hungry for one of our favorite places.  So when I pulled door number one and it was locked, I just figured, that's odd, then door number two.  Locked as well.  My friend then saw the sign.  Closed at 7pm.  It was 7:07pm.  Arrrrgh!  I didn't even think to call or check their website to make sure they were open.  Who closes at 7 these days?  Isn't everyone in the city open until 10 making tacos and burritos?  I guess not.  In the past I have only been here for lunch, so it just never registered with me to inquire about their hours for dinner.  Drat.  What do we do now?

After a few, let's go here, or let's go there, my partner in crime suggested Jack-n-Grill on Federal.  OK.  I had been there once before.  I couldn't remember if I liked it or not.  It was ages ago.  I'll try it again and it's pretty close by too.

The sign on the wall at Jack-n-Grill is promising. The sign says that they were on the Travel Channel's "Man vs. Food".  That's cool, right?  Well maybe.  Doing "research" on this place, I think the award was presented back 4-5 years ago, and, well,  things change.  Things change a lot.

It was pretty divey inside and that's fine.  We were seated in the bar and pretty much everyone is seated in the bar, as the bar is weirdly in the center of this establishment.  Menus were presented and both my friend and I at the same time commented on the high prices.  Burritos, tacos all listed with numbers like $12.95 or $14.85.  If we were at La Casita our bill would be total $15 for the both of us.  This is not looking good. 

As the place is just not doing it for me, I go the safe route and order a Pacifico and two chicken tacos. My friend orders a bowl of green chili.  After enjoying my warm beer for 5 minutes the waiter returns with our order.  Oh, here we go.  Should I even bother?  OK, the green chili that I tasted, was very familiar to me.  I'm a Progresso Soup person too (it's great for a cheap meal at home, but not something I'm looking for at dinner out on the town).  That's what it tasted like.  Someone opened a can of veggie broth/soup and dumped some canned green chilies into it?  And the pork?  It was ground pork!  In green chili?  Who does that.  Oh gross.  The tacos.  Well the boiled shredded chicken (or maybe it was canned as well) was flavorless. The pico de gallo, just tasted like tomatoes.  Bland, bland, bland.  It's not even worth my time to describe.

The bill came and of course with 2 beers and two dinners it was about $30 with tip.  What a waste.  I didn't even have the energy to complain.  What am I going to say?  We were on our way to La Casita and settled on this place?  We were so disappointed that really nothing could be done to save the night.  But you know what sometimes you have this exact type of situation and you DO GO SOMEWHERE ELSE and you know what?  You find another gem. I love those nights!  This wasn't the case.  It was so draining to be there (hence my crappy food pics).  All I wanted to do was go home.
So here's what I learned.  Don't go to places that have an old banner waving in the wind from 2009 saying they were on the Travel Channel. It doesn't mean anything, and that if I want to go to Las Casitas I need to skip the 6 o'clock happy hour and get my buns to that place by 6:58PM.  Lesson learned.  Damn you that second 6:45PM margarita cocktail.  You totally screwed up my evening.
Jack-n-Grill info (not sure if you need it!)
Address: 2524 Federal, Denver, CO 

Friday, August 31, 2012

Taco lover always, but now a Slopper lover too!

Gray's Coors Tavern
Pueblo, Colorado

Found myself in Pueblo, Colorado this month for the big to-do.  The annual Colorado State Fair.  Last time I had been to Pueblo was about 7 years ago and that was for a backyard barbeque and then we zipped back up to Denver.  I've always vowed to get back to Pueblo and actually SEE the city. 

We crossed the Arkansas River into the fairgrounds (did you know the Arkansas River was the former Mexican border?) and had a great day at the State Fair.  Saw a lot of cows, horses, chickens, but the food was your typical funnel cakes and cotton candy, and that's not going to cut it.  I did see some folks selling some Pueblo style sausage called Kolbase (not to be confused with Kielbasa), but I'm in Southern Colorado and all I can think about is GREEN CHILI. 

For years my Pueblo friends, who now live in Denver, have been raving about Gray's Coors Tavern. Some simply call it Gray's Tavern or Gray's.  They went on to tell me about this steelmill bar and how they serve up the Slopper.  This food item is found in Pueblo and a few parts of Colorado Springs.  A burger, served in a bowl covered in green chili.  Sounds like a hot mess!  Even searching for photographs on the internet of what a slopper is all about, not one picture made the dish look remotely appetizing.  But again, friends from Pueblo, and friends who just had been down there from time to time, said hit up Gray's Tavern, you will not be sorry!
Entering Gray's parking lot, it's your typical divey looking place in a blue collar part of the city.  They did have a patio area, but we needed some shade inside.  Enter 1935, ok maybe 1975.  The place was built in the 1930s, but maybe had a remodel in the early 70's.  And by saying that, I'm meaning that it's very cool!  Something to be said for a place with history, retro signs, wooden booths, and a friendly waitstaff that will tell you what else you NEED to hit up in Pueblo (hello Taffy's... loved your Orange Aid slushy drink that the girls at Gray's told me about... but that's another story!).

Browsed the menu, but who am I kidding, there was not a question in my mind on what I was ordering.  The only questions asked were if I wanted a double or single, and if I needed onions and cheese on top.  My party of 3 ordered three singles (in our case one double to share, and one single to save a few bucks).  That's plenty, right?  They also have these schooner glasses of Coors Banquet but sadly we didn't partake.  Hey, I have to drive 2 hours back to Denver.  I'm responsible! 
So out comes the SLOPPER.  It looks totally like crap in a plastic bowl.  I swear my high school cafeteria in the 1980s had the same style bowls and red plastic water cups... anyhooooo...   I take a quick photograph, see below.  Gross right?  Waitress comes back with a bag of oyster crackers.  I'm like I didn't order any soup.  She explains they go on top.  OK.  Not messing with tradition in Pueblo. 

My first bite.  I finally understood what the fuss was all about.  This slopper put me back in my childhood home having a burger in my Mom's kitchen, where she had buttered a pan and seared the edges all crispy and almost a charred flavor.  Then the green chili hits you, loaded with pork.  Spicy!  You remember Yes, Yes You Are, in PUEBLO.  Homeland to the green chili of Colorado.  The cheese is American and perfectly right in this combination and on top, onions and oyster crackers.  All this sits on a hamburger bun buried on the bottom.  It's there sopping up all that green chili.  It's heaven. 

I devour my Slopper in 5 minutes and then have one regret.  I didn't order the double.  I totally should have ordered the double!!  I Facebooked the whole experience, and my pal back in Denver from Pueblo, basically tells me "I thought I told you... always order a double". 

The bill comes and you realize how cool Pueblo is.  Our lunch was like $14.00 (again, no schooners of beer, but if we did I'm sure it would have still been like under $25).  Is this 1975?????? I love this city.  When was the last time you ate out with two of your pals, at a bar, for 14 bucks?

It was time to go and I make a promise to myself to visit Pueblo again soon.  There's too much that we didn't get to see.  Mauro Farms to get Pueblo's famous pastries, the Riverwalk boat tour, and the farms where the Pueblo chilies are grown.  I will be back Gray's Tavern, I mean Pueblo!

So taco lovers, if you find yourself in Pueblo, maybe this one time put the tacos on the back burner and seek out a Slopper.  Think of it as a taco burger in a bowl.  The flavors will be very recognizable and you will not be disappointed.

Info on Gray's Coors Tavern:
515 W. 4th
Pueblo, CO  81003

(no website, however they do have a presence on Yelp! at - )

Slopper info on wikipedia too:

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Margs World Taco Bistro or Margs Wraps? What would you call it?

Margs World Taco Bistro or Margs Wrap Restaurant? 

Have you liked Taco Nose Best on Facebook yet?  Here's our link:

Margs World Taco Bistro has been on my radar for the last few weeks.  It seems that every one of my foodie Facebook friends has done a Foursquare check-in at Margs in the month of July. My friends' reviews and Yelp reviews for Margs actually have not been that great, but that's OK, as my friends also like places that I can't stand and Yelp, well you can only trust maybe 25% of the reviews on that website. 

Thursday, I went for drinks and dinner at a business meeting at NORTH in Cherry Creek.  That place totally bites, but whatever, this is a review about Margs!  Anyway, after the meeting, we were in the mood for some additional beverages and decided to walk over to 1st and Fillmore. 

If you haven't been over to Cherry Creek North in a long time, Margs is where the old Einstein's bagel shop was located.  Margs shares that enourmous patio area with the Starbucks at Fillmore, you know the one, where you people watch while drinking your morning lattes?  That's THE corner in Cherry Creek North.  Hello people watching opportunity on the patio! 

Unfortunately zero tables on the patio that were available for a party of four (it was like 10PM too!). I can never seem to get a good parking place or table lately.  Seems there had been some tequila promotion or something, as there had to be 25 people wearing free promotional cowboy hats with some tequila I've never heard of.  Anyway, we went inside and some hipsters were paying their bill and we managed to score 4 barstools.  Next up, Pacifico and time to look at the taco menu!

Out of the 4 of us, I was the only one eating here.  Did I mention we had already eaten dinner at 7PM at NORTH?  Ok, well it was 10PM now and I was hungry again.  Got a problem with that?  The taco menu looked really good.  You can go with a 2 taco platter for $8.25 or 3 for $9.95.  Comes with rice and beans, so it's not a bad deal.  Plus, it's here in CHERRY CREEK, where everything is like $18min for a plate of food. 

I went with the Korean Pork, Carnitas, and the Margarita Shrimp.  The Korean Pork tacos were slow roasted natural pork with pickled cucumbers, scallions, hoisin sauce and sirachi.  OUT OF THIS WORLD FLAVOR. If you're going with a 2 or 3 plate here, get this one for sure. 

The Carnitas were also very tasty.  Same pork as the Korean Pork tacos, with a pepper salsa, serrano pickled red onions, queso fresco and a bit of lettuce.  Yum! 

The Margarita Shrimp tacos were a big miss here.  I'm not a huge black bean fan or really that much into corn salsa.  They are also served with avocado.  IMO shrimp tacos, you just have to keep it real simple.  Shrimp, queso fresco, cabbage and tortilla.  That's it!

From the bartender Doug, I learned that Margs makes their own hand pressed flour tortillas. The torts tasted great.  Here's the weird thing though about Margs tacos.  They are served on a plate, folded over, and then there's a toothpick inserted in them to hold it together.  While this doesn't make the tacos taste any different, I couldn't help but just be a little bit weirded out by it.  I felt like I was at the Smiling Moose restaurant eating a Caesar salad wrap.  Don't wrap up my tacos please!!!!!!  It aggravates me and a lot of others.  And the toothpick thing (see my photo at the top of this post), don't place toothpicks in my food unless it's a Tuna Sandwich or something at the local deli.

Asking the staff about the toothpicks and wrap-style tacos, I received the same answer from 3 different employees.  Something about that they aren't trying to be a taqueria but want to be a bistro. Huh? Because there are so many bistros famous for their tacos, right?  Whatever.  I just feel that if they lose this plated presentation, toothpicks, wrap-style and all, they would please their customers ten fold.  The employees seemed to give me the impression that they are asked this same exact question over and over.  Seems they might want to bring this to the head honcho's attention on the next all-staff-meeting. 

Will I be back?  Yes!  I'll put them on my re-visit list for sometime in September to see if they're still serving up wraps.  Yes, unfortunately, that's how I would describe them to another person who is looking for a good taco place in Denver. Actually, if someone asked me "where can I get a really tasty wrap sandwich in Denver?" --- I'd direct them to Margs.  I guess it's like if a hot dog place served hot dogs on a French rolls instead of a hot dog buns.  Would that be a "Bistro Dog" of some sort?

So that's my 2 cents on Margs.  Yes, they should just call themselves Margs, and not Margs World Taco Bistro, whatever that means. 

More Info:
200 Fillmore
Denver, CO
(also a location in LoDo at 1519 Wynkoop)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wahoo's - South Denver location. Great spot to eat lunch on the patio.

Have you liked TACO NOSE BEST on Facebook yet?  Here's our link:

Lunch at Wahoo's Fish Taco:

Been busy entertaining friends and family from the East Coast and guess what?  They aren't all about eating tacos.  Can you believe that?  Had my fill of burgers and pasta this week!  Today, finally, I had a day to catch up on my love of corn tortillas and decided to make a trip over to Wahoo's Fish Taco

It was just me today and it was a work day.  Many emails to return, texts to send, but I wasn't going to skip lunch.  Not to mention, we haven't had a blog update in quite some time.  Nothing better than having a table to myself with a taco and a diet coke.  Nobody bugging me, enjoying some food and getting things done.  The vibe at Wahoo's is great.  I always feel like I'm somewhere coastal like Hermosa Beach.  Surf boards, bumper stickers all for the eye to see.  Hipsters mingling with old folks.  It's just a generally cool place to hang. 

I know what you're thinking, that I went with Fish Tacos, but actually I ordered a chicken taco. Suprise, surprise!  The counter person suggested the Cajun spices/chicken taco, but I told him I'd save that for my next visit in August (who am I kidding?, see you next week bud).  I always feel super healthy when I eat Wahoo's tacos.  They go easy on the extras.  You get chicken, tomato, and lettuce.  I don't think they even ask you if you want guac or sour cream.  Plus you don't need it.  The taco was filling and with a drink I spent maybe 4 dollars and some change. 

After lunch I was ready to leave, but then my cell rang.  Decided to take my call out on the patio (loaded with umbrellas and tables) and well, one 10 minute call catching some rays, turned in to me "working" out of the Wahoo's patio area for a better part of the afternoon.  Note to self, when I want to work outside in a quiet space and eat tacos, head to Denver's I-25 and Hampden's Wahoo's Fish Taco. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

#TacoTuesday - join us on Twitter for a taco discussion!!! TONIGHT!

LIVE Taco Discussion starts now!  (4:15PM Pacific)

Have you joined us on Facebook?  Like us at - or followed us on Twitter?

Well today is Taco Tuesday, or if you are a hashtag kind of guy or girl, it's #TacoTuesday (hello Tweeps and Instagrammers).  I've already hit up Del Taco for lunch, and it was delish as always.  Went with the Chicken Carbon Tacos today. YUM.

Tonight we are grilling up some fish tacos at home, and making a super nacho plate for an appetizer.  The Sol beers are chilling in the garage fridge (strictly our beverage refrigerator), the table is set, and the itunes play-list (called Taco-Tuesday-Tunes) is ready to click.  First song on the playlist is 5 O'clock Somewhere by Alan Jackson. Isn't summer just the best time of year?

Tonight we want to have a patio discussion on our Twitter feed.  Wanted to invite our followers there to instagram us their pics, twit-pic, or however you share you foodie pics.  We're going to be RT'ing our favorites!  Talking some tacos, sharing our favorite places, our must-try-food-trucks, and general #TacoTalk. 

Will you join us? Let the games start now.  DC Taco is already past dinner, but I have a feeling he might be still enjoying one last taco.  Rocky Mountain Taco (me) is turning on the BBQ grill.  West Coast Taco is still probably savoring lunch.   

Hope to see you on Twitter tonight.  Remember our twitter address is:

Happy Tacos, happy times, happy #TacoTuesday.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Tacos on 4th of July? That would be a YES people!

After I finish this blog entry, I’m off to Safeway to do my 4th of July grocery shopping. 

You know the deal, some paper plates with stars all over them, bratwursts, buns, mustard, Cool Whip (making one of those American flag Cool Whip cakes this year, holler!!).  But things are different at our home.  We usually need a bigger shopping basket, as we don’t stop with the typical standard fare.

What’s the addition to our 4th of July menu?

Shrimp tacos!  On our picnic table, next to the potato salad and watermelon, you’ll see various dishes of guac, pico, and cheese.  You'll also see us grilling up some good sized shrimp next to the burgers and brats.  Shoot sometimes the smoker is going too if we're making ribs (we like to eat, here I go off on a tangent again).   Not one, not two, but at least three varieties of tortillas.  Salsas, well that usually turns in to some competition with one of our guests bringing over his favorite or my husband making his world famous salsa. 

Who says you have to eat pasta salad on Independence Day?  Is that written somewhere?  So that’s what’s on the menu in this household on Wednesday.  Tomorrow’s shopping trip will be all about the beverages.  Do we go with traditional red, white, and blue beer (Budweiser), or Coronas and Pacificos? 

Happy 4th of July everyone.  Have a wonderful celebration with your family and friends.