100 Favorite Dishes: Tacos Campechanos from La Calle Taqueria
No. 91 Tacos Campechanos at La Calle Taqueria
Tacos campechanos sharing a plate with tacos de chivo at La Calle Taqueria.
1565 West Alameda Avenue
Alameda Avenue between Federal and I-25 is a kind of miniature Federal Boulevard all on its own; you'll find Chinese dim sum houses, Vietnamese sandwich shops, Cajun-Asian crayfish dens and, of course, no shortage of Mexican taquerias and tortas stands. One of those, Las Tortugas, spawned La Calle Taqueria a couple of years ago, and while la madre still serves up some mean overstuffed sandwiches, la niña has stolen our hearts with its vast variety of diminutive but still hefty tacos. Best bets include pineapple-spiked tacos al pastor, tender tacos de chivo and the Yucatecan specialty cochinita pibil. But if we can't decide, we always start with the tacos campechanos -- rich shredded pork made even more toothsome with the addition of slow-cooked strands of pork skin.
That pork skin, known as cueritos, is a treat in its own right when ordered solo in a taco, but the combination of skin and lightly sauced meat combines the best aspects of the pig. Cueritos feature a texture not common in American cooking: The skin must be braised for hours to break it down into soft, slightly sticky slices that add unctuous texture to the tacos with just a hint of funky flavor. Cueritos are often sold pickled and jarred in Mexican markets, but the slow-cooked style offers nothing but deep flavor and that melting feel on the tongue.
Hit with minced cilantro and one of La Calle's many available condiments -- we recommend scorching-hot pickled red onion and a splash of salsa verde -- the two-bite, two-layer tacos come alive with a collision of fresh veggies and cooked-down meats.
The exterior's a little weedy and seedy, but the interior is clean and bright.
And if you're like us, the variety of the menu will be too much to resist; before you're done, your basket will be filled with a multitude of flavors from around the culinary regions of our neighbor to the south -- all with the potential to become favorites.
In advance of the Best of Denver 2015, we're already loading our plates with contenders for the best dishes in the city. And over the next nine months, we'll be sharing many of them with you, counting down (in no particular order) one hundred of our favorite dishes before the the Best of Denver 2015 hits the streets on March 26. In the meantime, if there's a dish you think we need to try, tell us about it in the comments section below, or shoot us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hungry for more? All the dishes in our 2014 countdown are linked below.
No. 100: Chile Relleno at La Fiesta
No. 99: Gurage Kitfo at Megenagna Ethiopian Restaurant
No. 98: Cochinita Pibil at Work & Class
No. 97: The Greggers Tongue Sandwich at Olive & Finch
No 96: Baum Cakes at Glaze by Sasa
No. 95: Goat hot pot from Viet's
No 94: Head cheese from Beast + Bottle
No. 93: Kettle Chips from Amerigo Delicatus
No. 92 Pork Belly Confit at Solera Restaurant and Wine Bar