There is a jewel in them thar mountains!
My family and I spend quite a bit of time up in the mountains of Colorado – especially in the Frisco/Copper Mountain areas. One of the things that has been sorely lacking up there is a really, really good Mexican restaurant.
Of course, there are a number of “C – plus” places (as my dad would put it) that will fill you up in a pinch, and acually might taste ok after a few Margaritas.
BUT – this past weekend, we discovered a new place that is about as good as any place we have ever been – it’s called EL TOREO FAMILY MEXICAN RESTAURANT – and it is simply superb. It’s owned and managed by Andres and Miguel Estrella. The theme is bullfighting, as the Estrellas have a long history of bullfighting in their family. The place is decorated with authentic, personal family photos. The music was also authentic.
This restaurant used to be something else – another Mexican place that was so-so, but left a lot to be desired. We came here last Saturday evening, and even though it was the off-season, they had everything on the menu (which, for being between skiing and summer seasons, is impressive – I know, as I used to be the head honcho of a restuarant in Vail many years ago. That’s another story.
Miguel was waiting on us, and he was charming, and offered many stories about his family heritage, and bullfighting (we asked). I was impressed that my parents are fairly knowledgeable about it, and could swap their knowledge with Miguel about “El Cordobes” the famous Spanish bullfighter. My wife and I just sat back and looked a little ignorant, but it was fascinating and truly enjoyable to listen to.
Miguel suggested a few items that were “specialties” of the house – and since I am a Chili Relleno glutton, I tried that with a cheese enchilada. It was….extraordinary…especially for being a middle-of-nowhere mountain-town Mexican place. As anyone who has spent a few days skiing in Colorado, mountain Mexican food usually consits of bagged chips, canned salsa, and a pile of gloopy nachos as big as K2.
I am from Arizona, and spent a number of years in Tucson..just an hour from the border. My parents lived in El Paso Texas for many, many years, and have traveled Mexico and Spain extensively. We know good Mexican Food, and EL Toreo was authentic and absolutely delicious.
Opening a new restaurant, especially in this economy, and in an expensive ski-town can be a gamble, but it is our suspicion, and hope that El Toreo is here to stay.
Here’s what my mom wrote about it: