If kick ass tacos and dope drinks are your thing, listen up.
Denver’s beloved Tacos Tequila Whisky, widely (and controversially) known as “Pinche” is opening its third Colorado location and we’re already drooling.
“This is our fourth location,” explained the man behind some of Denver’s favorite taco creations, chef and owner Kevin Morrison. “We have three here in the city and one in Phoenix.”
First, Morrison created the Pinche Tacos food truck devoted to turning out funky upscale versions of street tacos. That soon grew into two brick-and-mortar spots — one off Colfax and a second in the Highland, which opened in early 2013. Now, on the dawn of his fourth spot, Morrison has some new ideas, experiments and aspirations to bring to the table.
“We’re keeping the same tacos here that we have in our other stores,” said Morrison. “Why fix it if it isn’t broken? We are however adding a new cocktail menu. We’ll be rolling that out in a few weeks.”
Pinche is known throughout the city for producing decked out, creative versions of classic street tacos, and its new location will remain true to that reputation. The shop was named one of the “Top Best New Restaurants” by Bon Appétit in 2012. Why? Sweet and sour braised pork belly, citrus marinated skirt steak, griddled cotija cheese, agave dipped fried chicken… Do we need we go on? Pinche has a way of blending obscure flavors and unexpected ingredients into one killer bite. And Morrison’s background in both Italian and sandwiches explain his unique creations.
“My background is in Italian food,” Explained Morrison. “I worked at an amazing restaurant in Chicago called Vinci and had the opportunity to train under a really great chef who taught me about food for one, but also me about the business end of it.”
Those of you who lived in Denver in the early 2000s remember The Spicy Pickle. A deli that whipped up some of the cities best panini-style sandwiches — a deli that Morrison founded.
“Not to Brag but I think at one time we had the best sandwich in the city,” laughed Morrison.
Originally Morrison wanted to open a burger joint. Unfortunately, that was at a time when Denver’s food scene was teeming with new burger spots. So instead, and with no background in Latin cuisine, he decided to open Pinche.
“I had never worked in a Mexican restaurant before. As a chef you kind of know what goes together,” said Morrison. “And I knew what I wanted. I knew I wanted street tacos and I wanted the modern twist to it. My tacos are not authentic by any means.”
While the bites at Pinche are not authentic, they lack nothing in the flavor department. The culinary team is using everything from crispy beef tongue to beer braised short ribs and house-made crema in their slew of tacos. And they’re not just doing meat well. The Vegan 1944 is tasty enough to make any carnivore want another.
“The Vegan 1944 has been popular with everyone,” stated Morrison. “We’re using sautéed spinach, roasted chile poblano, corn, salsa abuela, avocado and pico de gallo all on top of a double corn tortilla. It’s awesome.”
Outside of their extensive taco offerings, the menu has some exciting dishes that stay true their abstract concept. Dishes like chicken chicharrones (a play on classic pork chicharrones) fried brussels sprouts with spicy homemade seasoning and a queso dish made with melted pepper jack and chorizo that will send you into a cheat day spiral are just a few of the taco alternatives. Not to mention their adventurous and expanding cocktail list.
“My bar manager is awesome. We really wanted to give him the freedom to create the cocktail program with this new location,” explained Morrison. “That new menu will be rolling out in a few weeks, but we can give you a sneak peek right now.”
The food menu may have remained true at their new location but the cocktail list got an upgrade. From the Tequila Lime Pie (a combination of house-made cinnamon honey syrup, tequila, cream and Frangelico) to a vanilla twist on a classic old-fashioned,
“This neighborhood is fairly casual,” explained bar manager J Jenson. “I wanted to introduce some fun new drinks that are both approachable and unique.”
The new cocktail menu has yet to be revealed to the public, however, we can tell you that if the full menu is anything like the preview, Pinche’s new location just became your favorite drinking spot. And we’d recommend clearing your schedule for the rest of the evening because they open for the first time tonight, and those in attendance are eligible for some sweet giveaways.
“The first 30 people through the door get entered to win a $100 gift card and a $50 gift card,” said Morrison. “Also for the first week, whoever comes in, takes a photo of the new space and tags #PincheLockers will have a chance to be chosen by our staff to win a free liquor locker.”
Liquor lockers are a way for guests to save money long term on booze. By buying a bottle and keeping it at location, guests pay the retail price rather than restaurant price. Pinche sells their lockers for $200 a year, so winning one for free would be a score for anyone who likes to save money, and drink.
“You buy your bottles from us for basically retail price. You keep it in your locker and when you come in we take it out of your locker to make cocktails with that night,” explained Morrison. “So instead of paying full price, you might pay a buck or two depending on what your mixer is.”
In addition to the liquor lockers, Pinche’s new location on 7th comes decked out with a garage door front for summertime dining, a full bar, some awesome local artwork and a fresh new design inspired by none other than Pinterest.
“I’m a big fan of Pinterest,” laughed Morrison. “We found those tiles, the idea for that textured wall and the lamps all on Pinterest.”
The new location in Governor’s park is small but suave. With a garage door front to let plenty of natural light in and the casual yet elevated design — it fits into the neighborhood perfectly. And Morrison has had no problem moving in.
“I think the new look that we have here is awesome and the neighborhood is just great,” beamed Morrison. “So many people are just out and about walking. You can tell the neighborhood likes to have fun, and I think we’ll fit right in.”
Pinche’s newest location at 215 East 7th Avenue, Denver opens to the public tonight at 3 p.m. To get a glimpse of the menu visit them here.
All photos by Giacomo Di Franco