Restaurant Review - El Diablo

March 25, 2012
(Clockwise from top left: outside the restaurant, the amazing bar with endless tequila choices, Ryan's beer of choice, street tacos, the chips and salsa)

One of my favorite South Broadway restaurants is El Diablo.  It has all the elements for a quintessential neighborhood spot... location, ambiance, consistency and (more often than not) good food.  If you are expecting typical ‘Denver Mexican food’ you should probably hit up Benny’s, La Loma or Las Delicias because El Diablo is not in the same category.   They specialize in Mexican street food and authentic dishes from the Mexican region of Oaxaca. 

The ambiance is like walking into the ‘Day of the Dead’ on steroids mixed with a hipster-cool vibe.  There are Sugar Skulls accented around wrought-iron red pendant lights, a dimly lit bar that draws you in for a killer margarita, a beautiful Our Lady of Guadalupe mural on the way to the restrooms and then colorful accents all around the restaurant.  It all seems like it shouldn’t work together yet everything blends so well.  Our most recent visit had a live band that was making everyone groove to the beats.

Without a doubt, order the Chips and Salsa and/or the Queso Fundido.  The three salsas have a range in flavors and texture which contrast nicely to each other.  The tomatillo is cool with just a hint of spice, the morita has a roasted heat the hits the back of your palate (my favorite) and then the habanero is by-far the most heat and spice which slaps your taste buds the moment you take a bite.  However, the gooey fundido is one of the best in the city because of the fiery chorizo and the addition of spinach and mushrooms.  Served with flour tortillas and chips, it is my favorite way to start my meal at El Diablo.

We were in the mood for tacos which is one of El Diablo’s staples.  3 come to an order and there are 11 to choose from which means options are plentiful.  The best part… you can mix and match based upon what sounds tempting and it will only cost you $8.  Our meal included the Carne Asada y Papa (grilled steak and potato with a morita salsa).  They were simple, straightforward and the salsa was the shining star.  Next up was the Barbacoa Colorado (lamb with blackened tomato jalapeno salsa and queso fesco).  This was my favorite taco of the night because the lamb was unbelievable tender with deep smoky flavors.  I was most hesitant yet completely satisfied with this risk-taking choice.   Next up was the Vegetariano; I had high hopes for the grilled peppers, squash blossoms, avocado and ‘El Diablo’ salsa.  I am still looking for my squash blossom because it was absent and well, needed.  I love the delicate flavors of this slightly-sweet veggie and it could have been the prominent ingredient that rocked this taco.  Instead I had a grilled pepper taco that was overshadowed by the ‘El Diablo’ salsa (they must have been channeling the devil when making this salsa because it is HOT!).  Thank goodness I finished on a high note with the Taco ‘El Diablo’.  A crispy taco shell surrounded by well-seasoned ground beef, queso fresco, avocado and some more of the devil sauce… ‘El Diablo’ salsa.  Luckily I’ve ordered the El Diablo taco before so I asked for the salsa on the side so I could add based upon my tastes.  This taco has great balance of flavor and texture and was the perfect last bite to my meal.

El Diablo has an unbelievable atmosphere that is fun and family friendly.  The menu needs to reflect the food going out so there is room for growth there, however, I keep finding myself going back so I cannot complain too much.  El Diablo has their location, reputation and ambiance to keep the restaurant busy 7 nights a week so they must be doing something right.  I can taste the queso fundito as I am typing and, now, I am salivating….

1 comment:

  1. Yum! I can't wait to try it! It sounds so good from your description that my mouth is watering too!


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