Carnitas Estilo Michoacan: Take the chilaquiles and run

Categories: A Federal Case

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Mark Antonation
The salsa bar at Carnitas Michoacan.
In A Federal Case, I'll be eating my way up Federal Boulevard - south to north - within Denver city limits. I'll be skipping the national chains and per-scoop Chinese joints, but otherwise I'll report from every vinyl booth, walk-up window and bar stool where food is served. Here's the report on this week's stop...

When you strip away all the modern expectations of eating out -- friendly service, pleasant décor, welcoming atmosphere, a certain level of cleanliness -- what you are left with is the food itself. Whether it's a family restaurant, a bar and grill, or a fast-food joint, a minimum level of comfort isn't too much to ask. But in the absence of a single other reason to spend your money at a restaurant, the food had better be pretty damned good. And on a street that boasts more taquerias than gas stations, a place like Carnitas Estilo Michoacan has nothing to fall back on but the flavors, aromas and textures of what comes out of the kitchen.

See also:
- Pho Le: So pho, so good (and porky)
- Gorditas Doña Lidia is the Mrs. Garrett of Federal Boulevard
- At Pho 95, warmth and familiarity slow down the rush on a cold night

The little green shack that you might drive right past or mistake for a medical marijuana dispensary already has a reputation for mixing up some of the best salsas in town, but as much as I love salsa, I generally need something good to spoon it onto. I've been known to sip directly from the little plastic salsa cup and I definitely see nothing wrong with mopping up the remnants with a simple corn tortilla, but ultimately that salsa should serve as a complement, rather than a cover-up, to whatever mound of shredded or chopped meat I've selected.

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Mark Antonation
The little green shack.
The entrance to Carnitas Michoacan is either through a covered front porch or the back door (if you park in the lot behind the building). The first time I visited, I felt like I was entering someone's home, which is always a good sign. But it would be a mistake to confuse house-like with homey or welcoming. The dining area was cramped and cluttered and the blaring TV made it difficult to hear myself as I placed my order. Even ordering food was a little tricky, as there was only one woman taking orders, running the cash register, and helping the cook in the tiny open kitchen. Despite the sparse number of customers, the place was chaotic because of the cramped layout. Customers entering from the back bumped into the employees as they sidled from the stove to the cash register to the walk-in cooler. Sitting at a bar stool at the lunch counter while waiting for my food, I felt like I was in the way as the lone server wedged her way past me to deliver plates to the patio tables.

Continue reading for more on our visit to Carnitas Estilo Michoacan.


Location Info

Carnitas Estilo Michoacan - CLOSED

1130 S. Federal Blvd., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant


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