La Loma is the Real-Deal traditional, Mexican restaurant in an old house in the “old neighborhood.”
2527 W. 26th Ave.
Denver, CO 80211
Phone (303) 433.8300
Fax (303) 433.8309
As I sat at the patio (above left behind the wall) behind a thick vine as patches of sunlight, cool shade and leaves were soothing the mind as the very decent Margarita was soothing the rest of me, I thought that this may be the very best traditional Mexican restaurant in the Denver area.
Knowing about the patio but never sitting there, as we did yesterday, was like discovering a new restaurant. The old patio is adorned with old brick of varying shapes and shades, wood shutters and as aforementioned, a wall of lacy vines – not to mention white tablecloths on the dozen or so tables along the narrow patio. This is the class of Mexican culture at it’s very best.
This old, Denver tradition, Mexican restaurant on the west-side is serving classic Mexican food in an old house (the house on Diamond Hill) built in 1887. The restaurant is richly decorated in rich woods with dark accents, high ceilings with skylights, quality tables/chairs/booths, a warm inviting vibe and a vintage tortilla machine. A cozy bar for 10-12 is the perfect place to wait a few minutes for a table. Happy hour (Mon – Sat/ 2pm – 6pm) offers $6-7 Margaritas, wine, beer and discounted apps.
The menu (click the main website) offers the classics: Enchiladas (two/ $9.75-10.25,) Tacos (3/ $9.95-11.25,) Burritos (2/ $8.75-10.50,) Combinations: 1/ 7.95 2/ 10.25 3/ 12.25 4/ 13.95 as well as Fajitas (around $10.95-$16.95, $25.25, for two) and other specialties – check the La Loma’s website for the full menu. The salsa is thick and hot and the tortillas are hand crafted. This my friends is a good restaurant.
The main dining room is warm and cozy of course, also with dark woods, a high ceiling and cozy booths.
The lovely Juana, all in black, graced our table with good cheer and Latin beauty.
“Cinco de Mayo—or the fifth of May—commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). A relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations. Cinco de Mayo traditions include parades, mariachi music performances and street festivals in cities and towns across Mexico and the United States.”
Cinco de Mayo in Las Vegas
“Don’t forget your sombreros this weekend as Cinco de Mayo falls on a Saturday, which means an entire weekend of partying. Two new Mexican venues- Carlos ‘n Charlies and Senor Frogs- celebrate their grand openings with festive parties. Read on to find the perfect place to grab some tacos and margaritas this weekend” read more from LasVegasSun.Com
Cinco de Mayo in Denver – from CincodeMayoDenver.Com
“Cinco de Mayo commemorates the victory of a heroic people and their struggle for freedom. On May 5, 1862, in the town
of Puebla, the outnumbered Mexican army defeated French forces providing the momentum to drive foreign power from
their country. Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of freedom and culture and acknowledges the beauty of Latino culture. The
Denver Cinco de Mayo event is produced by nonprofit organization NEWSED Community Development Corporation
and Santa Fe Drive Redevelopment Corporation. Our mission is, “To promote and develop economic, arts and cultural,
and community programs that increase income and education levels, and political engagement of Denver area residents”.
This year we celebrate our 39th year as an organization and 25th Anniversary of the largest Cinco de Mayo Festival in the
United States read more from CincodeMayoDenver.Com/Event Guide…
Mariscos D Mazatlan at 1063 Federal Blvd. specializes in seafood. In the evenings they prepare and serve tacos at this little stand in front of the restaurant. The current price for a taco here is $.99.
When I lived in Mexico I fell in love with the little outdoor Taco-stands that dot the streets all over Mexico. It wasn’t just about the food. It was also about the ritual. The ritual is about open-air (after dark the ritual sweetens.) It’s about camaraderie – people gathering around hot-food (under lights.) There’s something about being in close proximity to bare light-bulbs at night. Afternoons also work, but then something’s missing. Strangers and friends congregating around food at night, in the open-air, can be a mystic experience – at least dining al-Fresco in Mexico can be a mystic expierience.
There’s magic surrounding these little oases of refreshment. I’m thinking, maybe, they’re a throwback to a more primitive time. Or a bit later – gathering around the campfire with coffee and beans on the prairie after sundown. Different meats, usually carne asada (beef) or puerco (pork), but also more esoteric meats such as cabeza (head) parts such as: ojo (eye), oreja (ear), cachete (cheek), lengua (tongue), or labios (lips) are cooked on a flat-grill or sometimes in a wok-like, stir-fry pan. Then the little (usually 4-6″ in diameter) tortillas are warmed and topped with the meat. Salsas and extras such as: avocado or guacamole, cilantro, tomatoes, onions and lettuce are usually available, on the counter. Making the salsas and extras available for the customer to access is another facet that makes this form of dining so desirable. The customer can participate, not only in the ritual but in the gustational-balance. Huh? Sometimes, at other street locations or at restaurants, one can find Tacos Al Pastor: “Pork is marinated over one or two days in a combination of dried chiles and then slowly cooked with a gas flame on a vertical rotisserie”. A huge hunk of pork is flame-roasted on a vertical rotisserie then sliced and placed on a tortilla and served as above. I haven’t seen these tacos on Federal yet, but I’m thinking they will be available. Al Pastor is definitely my favorite taco, if it isn’t Baja fish-tacos. [Some information is from the pages of WIKI]
I’m betting you’re going to see more of these taco/food stands around Denver. Similar food stands like this in Mexico were the inspiration for Baja Fresh-type restaurants. Depending on the outlet, food is served from lunchtime into the night.
Federal Boulevard in Denver – West Evans north to Colfax Avenue particularly has recently sprouted a dozen of these little food-stands. Tacos, tortas, puppusas, hot dogs and more are served hot. Beverages and chips are often available. Probably because of Denver’s limited season these outlets are mostly mobile kitchen-trucks and trailers. My recollection of Mexico is that many of the taco-stands were more permanent structures. Especially in Ensenada, Baja California where the favored taco was a fish-taco. The stands were wood-framed, palapa-style.
This little trailer/stand sells hot tacos in front of the Tacos Marlene restaurant at 677 S. Federal Blvd. Tacos go for about $3.50, for two. The salsas and extras are on the table (right front.)
This catering truck in front of The Avanza Food Market at 1320 S Federal Blvd. sells tortas, beverages, chips etc.
This is Marcelino from Mexico City standing defiantly in front of his Tortas Truck. Marcelino strongly emphasized that he only sells tortas, no tacos. His tortas sell from $5.99 to $8.99.
Here’s another little trailer/stand on Federal selling fresh tacos.
Pupusas are a traditional Salvadoran dish made of a thick, hand-made corn tortilla that is usually filled with a blend of cheese, cooked pork (ground) and re-fried beans. This stand is near 4th & Federal.
How about some Pigs Feet or a Hot Dog from this stand beside a store on 8th & Federal.
So what’s the verdict? My opinion is that it’s a good thing for foodies. I’ll patronize the stands from time to time – if the food is decent. It’s the original fast-food outlet. Undoubtedly there are going to be naysayers who will complain about the encroachment of Mexican society on the city, or that the nearby restaurants will loose business. And then there will be those who say that the Mexicans are just taking back what originally belonged to them. Still others will say “face it, war is war.” I say food is food, though the point about the nearby heavily-invested restaurants loosing revenue is a germane consideration (of course this is not applicable to those restaurants parking a trailer on their own premises.) To a street person who’s gleaned sustenance from cans d’ garbage for survival, this is fine dining.
The disclaimer here is: if you’re a food-snob, if you leave a restaurant where there’s dust on the window-sill, if you demand spotless Sterling-silverware, or if you become queasy at the sight of a stained restaurant carpet you might want to go elsewhere. If you dine with the Natives whenever possible, and the food in these stands prove worthy of your time and cash (still to be determined) this may be a food destination for you.
In the immortal words of LA’s infamous Rodney King “People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?”
Weather permitting, this might be one of Denver’s best Father’s Day dinner-tickets.
El Noa Noa’s patio on Santa Fe Drive is one of the best places to dine Sunday evenings in Denver. Replete with a large fountain, trees and umbrellas for shade, *fine musicians on stage, cocktails, excellent Mexican food and even a few chirping birds playing and bathing on the fountain, one can’t go wrong visiting El Noa Noa this coming Father’s Day – June 19, 2011, or any other summer Sunday. If you are Dracula or one of his ilk and can’t stand the sun there’s also an indoor dining-room and a small bar.
Just like dining at an outdoor restaurant deep in Mexico, you’ll feel like you’re on vacation – South of the Border.
Have a couple of house Margs or beers and a plate of sizzling Fajitas ($14.50,) throw a finn at the Musicians and kick back for a night of relaxation. You too can feel just like Hemingway.
*Smooth Jazz, Mariachi or Peruvian Sounds – performed by serious musicians. Call ahead to find out which music-genre/group will be on stage.
EL NOA NOA Mexican Restaurant
722 Santa Fe Dr
Denver, CO 80204 (303) 623-9968
One of the best Mexican restaurants in Denver, Colorado, EL NOA NOA on Santa Fe Drive is an authentic Mexican restaurant in an Hispanic neighborhood that has been around forever. A commercial area of the ‘hood surrounding EL NOA NOA has recently been adopted by a multi-culture art crowd. It is fast becoming a major “ARTS DISTRICT.” O.K. if you’re from New York you have a different definition of the term “major.” So… The restaurant underwent a makeover in the past year, or so.
According to tradition there were 2 dogs, two cats, 2 elephants, 2 zebras, on and on and on and on the ark during the flood. It would make sense then that maybe there were also two Noa’s…Or is that too much of a stretch? Anyway I’ve decided that that is the origin of the name.
El Noa Noa might be my favorite Mexican Restaurant in Denver. Maybe it depends on the time of year. In the more favorable seasons, weather permitting – the patio is open (see photo,) the trees are in bloom, the fountain is running and on some Saturday nights there is live music. In a perfect storm, so to speak, and all things are happening as they should be happening – this may be it. I can’t imagine a much more pleasant ambiance.
We were there last Saturday night. The late sun was shinning, the band – a South American flute and guitar group were into their music – and we were into some excellent authentic Mexican food and beverage.
I mentioned to the affable Armando that since the patio really helps to make the restaurant they should think about enclosing the patio with glass or acrylic so this little piece of heaven can be enjoyed year-round.
This good look’n restaurant attracts some good look’n people – the people watching is superlative.
The Denver Civic Theatre at 721 Santa Fe Drive is just across the street..
Play’s such as last year’s THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES opened to good reviews/crowds.
The food is excellent: Try the Chile Rellano Plate ($10.25) or the Fajitas ($14.50.) Everything is tasty and authentic…
Prices are moderate. The full bar is serving up your favorite margs. Happy Hour: Mon – Fri, 2-6, check website.
Better hurry though, it won’t be long before the Colorado nights are too chilly to have chile outdoors.
Several years ago the LVBC BLOG received a “BLOG Comment” from the Denver Mayor’s Office.
I did a post on a Mexican restaurant in Denver and the Mayor “loved what I had to say about the restaurant.” It was more about the design/look of the restaurant, although the food definately “worked.” Anyway the mayor was going to mention my post/review at the Mayor’s Design Awards ceremony, as well as invite me to attend an Awards’ reception.
Well I drove by the restaurant the other day and found that the entire look of the place had been changed.
The vibrant colors that the Mayor and I agreed upon were gone, the style was gone. I think they even changed the name (I drove by quickly and just caught a glimpse.)
That’s the way it goes goes!
Here’s a copy of the e-mail that the Mayor’s Office sent:
9:44 PM 12/17/2006
“We loved what you had to say about Tacotlan on South Federal, and agree that it should win a design award. Please join us on November 14th for the Mayor’s Design Awards. Tacotlan will be receiving an award from the Mayor for their small scale contribution to good design as a building that beckons. The Mayor will mention your review, and we’d love for you to join in the celebration. The event will be held on East Colfax at the Master’s Bible Church at East Colfax and Columbine (across from East High) followed by a reception with the Mayor at the Rockbar at 3015 East Colfax. Let me know if you need more information or see www.denvergov.org/MDA” Comment by [KC] – November 2, 2006 @ 10:55 am That’s a nice thing!
The restarant’s former name was TACOTLAN.
1130 S. Federal Blvd.
Denver, CO 80204
phone: (303) 934-9303
I’ll post an update here when I have more information about the restaurant. Guess I’ll have to stop by for a taco.