People really, really like tacos. I learned this when I wrote a little piece in November called, “When it Come to Tacos, Longmont, Colorado is Winning.” This post caused quite the stir and was even picked up by Google News. Readers left impassioned messages for me on this blog, on Facebook and on Twitter. I had not predicted this sort of passion around a small tortilla stuffed with meat.
Residents of Greeley were especially vocal. Located just 50 minutes away from Longmont, Greeley readers and followers insisted that their taco scene is the best and that I definitely needed to experience it.
Enter, Jill and Brian, wife and husband and co-owners of Luna’s Tacos & Tequila in downtown Greeley. They co-own this downtown taco restaurant with Ely and Sam Corliss.
Jill and I have been following each other on Twitter for many years but we have never met. These two longtime Greeleyites decided that they needed to be my taco guide in Greeley and of course, I agreed. You don’t have to twist my arm to eat tacos.
Ryan and I met Jill and Brian on a sunny Saturday afternoon. This wasn’t only a taco tour, Brian knew that we liked tequila and mezcal as well. Thankfully, they had booked us at the brand new DoubleTree by Hilton at Lincoln Park in downtown so that we didn’t have to drive that evening.
Our first stop was Taqueria Los Comales, a Greeley taco tradition. Their tortilleria provides nearly every Mexican restaurant in town with tortillas including Luna’s. In addition to a full menu that includes tacos, this joint has a mind-blowing salsa bar. I could eat them all but my favorite is the reddish/yellow stuff that, after a while, burns your face off.
I started the day with an al pastor and lengua tacos. Lengua is tongue and I am always up for a bit of a food challenge so I had to try it. Turns out that tongue is deliciously tender. Brian describes the meat as sort of akin to pot roast, and that’s accurate.
Our second stop was The Clay Center of Northern Colorado where Jill and Brian have deep roots. We were here to do a mezcal tasting utilizing the copitas made for Luna’s. Copitas are a traditional drinking cup made specifically for mezcal.
We were joined by the owner of The Clay Center, Tim Preston, along with members of his center and some of Luna’s team. I had never used a copita for drinking mezcal and it was delightful to try the mezcals Brian had brought from the restaurant. Luna’s Tacos & Tequila will soon be offering mezcal flights in these beautiful drinking devices handmade by Abby Einer of Abby Einer Ceramics.
Thanks to Jill and Brian I went home with two of Abby’s gorgeous copitas and Tim gifted me a salt shaker pig that he had made. I love this pig.
After our boozy stop at The Clay Center, we were off to Weldwerks Brewing for beer and tacos. The Tramp About food truck was out front providing pulled pork tacos alongside the rest of their menu. Food trucks, often found at breweries, have gotten on board with the taco craze. Even in areas without authentic taco trucks around, these fill the void. Plus, tacos go well with beer.
After our tacos and beer, we hit Luna’s Tacos & Tequila for more tacos. Luna’s is located next to The Moxi Theater in downtown Greeley at 806 9th Street. Friday Fest, one of downtown Greeley’s best weekly summer events, takes place in this area.
Brian started Wing Shack and now has stores as far north as Cheyenne. Under a year ago, Brian and Jill opened Luna’s Tacos & Tequila. While wings offer a lot of room for creativity when it comes to sauces this new venture offers room for even more imagination.
In addition to a menu that features a lot of tacos, Luna’s serves other Mexican food delights such as yuca fries (pronounced u-ka), tortas and more.
We went taco crazy here ordering nearly one of every specialty taco, even the vegetarian and vegan options. Corn tortillas are standard at Luna’s meaning that almost 80 percent of the menu is gluten-free.
The mushroom taco features local mushrooms from Hazel Dell as well as sunflower seeds, avocado and adobo cashew crema. The meatiness of the mushrooms worked well in this vegan taco and while I love tacos with meat, I would order this again.
The other off-the-wall taco we ate here was the vegetarian roasted beet mole taco with pepitas. The crunchy pepitas make this taco, although having an affinity for beets won’t hurt either.
We also had a few of the more standard tacos like the carne asada and chorizo potato, which would be perfect while brunching at Luna’s. Their tacos are as pretty as they are good and the variety here means that there’s a taco for everyone.
We paired our tacos with shishito peppers dusted in cheese powder, tequila cocktails and tequila. Brian knows a lot about tequila but with an offering of more than 150 tequilas, he’s the first to say that he’s continually learning. While we tried out different tequilas I also drank a Lunaloma, the restaurant’s take on a Paloma, and a Greeley Sunrise, a twist on a Tequila Sunrise.
Next, we made a pit stop at La Tarahumara, a Mexican grocery store. Greeley is filled with Mexican grocery stores and I discovered that this is where to find roasted green chiles all year long. These stores also sell everything from Mexican spices to statues of Jesus (I’m not kidding). It’s a one-stop shop for every need; from culinary to spiritual. Brian picked up a bag of red and green pistachios which were satisfyingly salty and spicy.
Our next stop was an authentic taco truck. Greeley has a handful of taco trucks scattered around town. The two on 8th Avenue are located north and south of Luna’s, and despite owning a taco restaurant, Brian frequents these two trucks.
El Tacorriendo is located at Ryan Premer Repair at 4602, 1300 8th Avenue. Taco trucks keep odd hours and we returned a week later to try Lonchera El Pichon located in a tire store parking lot at 401 8th Avenue. Alas, the taco truck was nowhere to be found. The later in the evening you stop by, the more likely it is that the truck will be there.
I was full at this point but there’s always room for one more taco so I ordered an al pastor. These tacos stood out because the tortillas are lightly fried giving them a pleasant crunch. Ryan raved about his chorizo and queso taco.
It was nearly 10 p.m. and the four of us ate these tacos by the neon light of the truck. There’s something extra pleasurable about eating tacos outside. Maybe it was the mezcal and tequila, but as we ate tacos and sucked on pistachios, I decided this was the perfect way to spend an afternoon and evening in Greeley.
Our day was not over, however. We toddled down the street to The Kress Cinema & Lounge where we headed downstairs. On the wall, we flipped the switch and a nicely dressed person appeared at the door. Soon, we were inside Greeley’s only speakeasy, or at least it’s the only one I know about.
Abby, who made the copitas, bartends here, and she made us each an old-fashioned with mezcal, a drink that’s currently on the menu. I love whiskey and believe it’s God’s gift to us along with tacos, but I may never have whiskey in my old-fashioned again. The smokiness of the mezcal made this drink absolutely fantastic.
We thought about trying to make it down to the other taco truck but I couldn’t contemplate eating more. We called it a night, hugging our newfound friends, Jill and Brian, goodbye and walking the few blocks to the DoubleTree.
Is Greeley the taco capital of Colorado? It could be and I believe the issue requires further investigation. I’ve already been back to Taqueria Los Comales, and there’s no doubt that Greeley is a top taco town. I’d love to hear your thoughts and recommendations. After all, my taco eating days are far from over.
Thank you to Jill Terlaak and Brian Seifried of Luna’s Tacos & Tequila for being the best taco tour hosts.