Acapulco on the southwest coast of Mexico — the largest beach and resort town in the country — used to be a very popular destination in the ’50s and ’60s with frequents of Hollywood stars and jet setters. Nowadays, tourists are traveling to Cancun and Puerto Vallarta more so. But the name Acapulco still connotates the paradise and glamour of its heyday. You can find a little slice of that nostalgia in the form of good food and atmosphere at Tacos Acapulco.
Settled on the corner of Yosemite before Colfax turns into Aurora — this little joint can’t be missed. It has a big patio lined with red umbrellas — and big lettering on the sides of the building. The small building with its outdoor eating area is very resemblant of a taco shack in Mexico. But this place is less about the name and decor — and much more about the food.
Owner Robert Lopez is from Mexico and his wife from El Salvador — created a dual cuisine specializing in Mexican street tacos and Salvadoran pupusas. The focus here is on doling out quick and delicious food. The inside is very tiny with just a few feet lying between the bar seating and the ordering window. During the lunch and dinner rush — if you’re driving by you can see the many people eating by the window and others standing in line.
It has a slew of regulars that know exactly what they want but also newcomers that ask several questions and request guacamole. (There is no guac but they do offer sliced avocado as a side). The employees are extremely nice and helpful though we recommend giving them a rough sense of what you want. If there’s a long line and you’re taking your time ordering — the customers and employees won’t have the patience. The two menus on either wall are mostly self-explanatory — so do consult.
It’s quite a different dining experience — it’s fast-authentic, no-frills. Through the order window you can see the magic in the kitchen — and most importantly — the glorious al pastor on a spit.
The tacos are of the traditional variety you would find from carts on the streets of Mexico. Just juicy meat cradled on a small fresh tortilla, topped with diced onion and cilantro. It comes accompanied by cucumber, radish, a slice of lime and a side of hot red salsa. The meats offered are pollo, chorizo, asada and carnitas — and one taco will put you back just $1.62. If it’s a nice day and you can sit on the patio — you may want to try the camaron (shrimp) tacos which comes with two for just $4.63.
As for the pupusas ($2.50), which you can’t find just anywhere — is something you didn’t know you needed in your life. It’s thin a pocket of masa dough filled with cheese and meat, chicharron or zucchini. The way to eat it is by pulling it apart soaking up the curtido — a vinegar coleslaw which they give a heap of — and some red salsa for heat. You can also up the ante and add beans and loroco which is a Central American edible flower — if you order a Pupusa Revuelta con Todo for $2.78. If you need something a little more hearty — a burrito with all the fixings is only $6.48.
If you’re trying to beat the crowd, you can call ahead and place a pick-up order. It has a good-sized parking lot too, which is convenient. But if you want to dine-in — come during off-hours to ensure you can get a spot on the bar stools. Enjoy a Jarrito soda or a sweet Horchata with your meal and stare out at the Colfax cars going by.
Tacos Acapulco is located at 8890 East Colfax Ave., Denver. It is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.
All photography by Giacomo Di Franco.