After spending Thanksgiving up in the mountains in Dillon, Colorado with Carolyn, Tyler, and their friends, we made our way back to Wheat Ridge. Wheat Ridge is a town about 15 minutes east of Denver, where Carolyn and Tyler reside. I needed the entire next day to recover from the change in altitude from Dillon to Denver. Dillon is about 9 times above Pittsburgh’s elevation. Once I was back to normal, I was all gung-ho for trying a new sport, mountain biking.
Just like in Dillon, Denver’s thin air kicked me in the butt while mountain biking, but I managed to tough it out for a morning. It was an absolutely scary experience biking near the edges of the mountains in Golden, but the focus on rolling over giant rocks and the adrenaline rush kept me going.
Carolyn, Tyler, and I celebrated our mountain biking success with tacos. We chose a place off my taco list, El Camino. (Remember I print a list of taco joints whenever I travel.)
El Camino is located in the Highlands area of Denver. The street El Camino is on reminded me that of Walnut St in the Shadyside neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
As soon as we walked in, I noticed a guitarist to the right, jamming away by the bar. The three of us sat at the bar right next to him as he serenaded the crowd. Chips and salsa were brought to us as we patrolled the menu. The salsa was excellent. It had a little hint of spice which was ideal and the even consistency made each bite perfect.
Tyler and Carolyn started the lunch off with mimosas. Two dollar mimosas on the weekends here make this a very appealing brunch spot. We can’t forget about Carolyn’s love for queso (remember all the queso we had in Austin?), and she made sure to place the queso and chips order pretty quickly into lunch.
I went on to look at the tacos served by El Camino. Here, options included al pastor, grilled mahi mahi, chicken, carnitas, marinated steak, shrimp, and grilled tofu or portobello. I wanted to get a comparison of the tacos I had with Nate from Fort Morgan, so I went ahead and ordered the al pastor with a side rice. I wish I could do a classic taco swap but both Tyler and Carolyn were each set on ordering the cheese steak burrito.
When the al pastor tacos arrived at the bar, I noticed a lot of bright colors on the plate. The al pastor was marinated in a citrus-achiote mix giving it a vibrant orange hue. Pickled red onions and cilantro also added some pop of color, along with the golden pineapple chunks.
My favorite part of this meal was the rice and unfortunately not the tacos. The rice was a little on the pasty sweeter side and I loved the addition of carrots and peas mixed in. As for the tacos, I thought the sauce was sort of bland and didn’t match the flavor profile of the pork. The pork chunks were huge so maybe cutting the pork into smaller pieces would increase the amount of surface area of meat exposed to the sauce. However, the sauce by itself seemed watered down, so that may be the underlying problem here. On a positive note, the pork was very tender. I think this taco could use another corn shell to make a double corn shell base. I also thought the pickled onions were too overpowering.
In conclusion, I will not be back for the al pastor tacos and may try other Denver taco spots before I come back to El Camino. I do have to give them credit though for excellent salsa, queso, rice, service, and entertainment. Carolyn and Tyler are frequent flyers here because of their love for El Camino’s queso, so they will be back more often than me.
Price: $11-14 for 3 tacos and a side. One dolla street tacos every Tuesday, all day long!