Truly Fort Collins’ best

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Apr 092003
 
Authors: Paul Franco

Daylight saving time has come and gone and now the sun is in the sky for an hour longer. Some people might focus on the fact that we lost an hour of sleep, or that daylight saving time is a useless artifact from more unenlightened times and that the change we experience is only a psychological one. The sun isn’t really in the sky an hour longer; when it’s seven it’s actually only six and in addition to that, the sun isn’t even in the sky.

From the precedent of hating and cynicism established by previous columns of mine, it might be expected that I take such a view towards this tradition of saving daylight. However, there is something about the sun being in the sky an hour longer (even if it isn’t really in the sky and it is all psychological) that puts me in a sunny disposition. So on this day I will cease my sipping on Haterade and tone down the sarcasm (just a little) and make an attempt at liking stuff instead of being such an elitist.

Every year I see “Best of” listings in various publications in and around Fort Collins, including the very paper you hold in your hand right now. As is the case with The Collegian, the annual “Best of” section is decided by the readers themselves with categories ranging from “Best News Source” to “Best Burrito” to “Best Mexican Food.”

Being a connoisseur of Mexican food (and food in general) the choices made by the general public in the latter two categories interest me the most. Often, we see Big City Burrito at the top of the “Best Burrito” list and Consuelo’s at the top of the “Best Mexican Food” list. While these fine eateries often deserve a placing somewhere in the top three or five, the eating public has gotten it wrong in placing these restaurants at the top of their respective lists. (I tried not to let it happen, but the elitism has found its way back into my heart and article!)

So if the establishments listed above don’t top their respective lists, what does? There has been a quaint little restaurant that has been quietly flying under the radar for the past year or so that tops Big City in burrito making prowess and Consuelo’s in Mexican food making clout. That restaurant is Taqueria Los Comales just east of the train tracks on Prospect.

While the size of the burrito at the Taqueria in no way compares to the audaciousness of a Big City burrito, there is no doubt it measures up to to Big City in deliciousness and conquers it in authenticity. True, there is no potato burrito at Taqueria, but whoever heard of a burrito that consists purely of potatoes and ranch dressing (as tasty as it may be!)? But then again you can’t get three different types of pork at Big City as you can at the Taqueria, which has al pastor (marinated pork), chorizo (Mexican sausage) and chuleta (pork chop).

Each burrito at the Taqueria lives up to the high standard for burritos that has been established by my mother and grandmother. Pork isn’t the only meat of choice on the menu which also includes asada (steak), pechuga (chicken breast) among more Mexican offerings such as lengua (beef tongue) and tripa (tripe). It’s hard to choose a favorite but I would say the al pastor burrito is the best as the well-marinated pork combines perfectly with the refried beans, lettuce, cheese and tomato in the soft tortilla wrapping. And at $3.50, it is definitely a steal.

On the strength of the burrito quality alone, the Taqueria could win the “Best Mexican Food” mantle, but there are other menu choices besides the burrito that pushes the Taqueria above and beyond other Mexican restaurants. Consuelo’s may have a greater selection to choose from, but the few items the Taqueria has are excellent and edge out any competition. Feel like a sandwich? Try the tortas that have avocado, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and your choice of meat, of which asada is the best.

The tacos at the Taqueria are the best around. They come with your choice of meat on a soft corn tortilla with cilantro and chopped onion. They are generous with the meat at the Taqueria so their 4 tacos for $5 deal is enough to satiate most appetites. You can’t go wrong with any choice of meat, but if you’re feeling adventurous this columnist (and friends) suggests the lengua. The beef tongue has a runny consistency with enough meat on it to make for a dining experience unlike any other.

And while the green chile at Consuelo’s is definitely mouth-watering (and the hottest around), the extras at the Taqueria win the close race between the battle of the sauces. The red chile at the Taqueria complements any menu choice immaculately and the dark green chile, while not as spicy as Consuelo’s, also goes well with the entr/es. Each has the perfect combination of spiciness and flavor. The guacamole is excellent as are the pickled jalapenos and onions, and every condiment is free with you meal.

Taqueria Los Comales is THE place to go in Fort Collins for authentic Mexican food. And perhaps now the restaurant-going public will get it right when they cast their ballots for Best Burrito and Best Mexican Food.

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