Here’s the deal, tacos are my favorite. Unless you have just arrived in HeidiTown, you’re probably well aware of my passion for this particular food. I also love green chiles and I don’t care if they come from Colorado or New Mexico, but I digress. This post is about all about tacos.
By the way, if you aren’t watching “Taco Chronicles” on Netflix, do it. It’s like this show was made for me.
I am truly passionate for standard, Mexican tacos. There are some very good food trucks around. The best ones are parked at auto repair and tire stores. I am not kidding. If you must know, Al Pastor tacos are my absolute favorite (because pork makes the world go round).
However, when I was in Colorado Springs this summer, we did not dine at taco trucks. We tried three popular spots and two serve up tacos that are just a bit fancy. Gourmet tacos have their place because quite frankly, similarly to the fact that I don’t care where a green chile originates, every taco makes me happy, fancy-pants or otherwise.
2825 Dublin Blvd.
Our first stop was Piglatin Cocina in a strip mall in North Colorado Springs. Formerly a food truck, at Piglatin Cocina you can dine on Cubanos, yucca fries, cheesy rice balls and more. This joint has fused the tastes of Latin America with those of the Caribbean.
Of course, they have tacos, which are widely considered to be the best tacos in Colorado Springs, at least according to my twitter followers.
The patio is decked out with swings, fire pits and colorful decor. It is the place to meet friends in Colorado Springs, and it’s here, with a soft summer rain falling, that we ate the first couple tacos of a taco-filled day.
I ordered a Guava Lava Chicken Taco and the ever-popular Island Taco. Personally, I am not a fan of chicken tacos in general but I was intrigued by the fact that this one comes with pineapple and arugula. It was okay but the Island Taco was delicious despite being served on a hard, blue shell. The shell works!
The taco is filled with pineapple braised pork, jalapeno-habanero cilantro cream, cabbage, cotija and lime. I’ve already said I’m partial to pork, right?
Piglatin also gets points for their stellar patio. I would swing here all day as long as they kept serving me Island Tacos.
T-Byrds Tacos & Tequila
26 East Kiowa Street
Without a doubt, T-Byrds is my kind of joint. Located in downtown Colorado Springs, this place has a distinct Day of the Dead vibe—think dive bar covered in colorful art. This restaurant ticks all the right taco stop boxes.
T-Byrds has a sweet happy hour and we were lucky to arrive during this 3-hour period. From 3 to 6 p.m. patrons enjoy $1 off tacos and all sorts of drink specials. I ordered straight tequila on the rocks, because why not? It was after 3 p.m. on a Friday and they have a nice little selection.
For eats, I had the Fire Belly Tacos, which feature green chile braised pork belly served with pineapple and habanero salsa. I also ordered their carnitas tacos.
The braised pork was rich and the tequila cut the fatty flavor. The carnitas meat was oddly sweet, which is interesting. I think they use a lot of cinnamon in the pork and I haven’t tasted a carnitas taco quite like this.
Speaking of different, Ryan ordered the Colorado Trout Taco. This is definitely not a traditional fish taco but it was one of Ryan’s favorites of the day. It is served with a generous portion of trout, avocado sour cream, slaw, pickled peppers and cotija.
T-Byrds does not skimp when it comes to filling their tacos and this means you can add a couple of drinks when you visit during happy hour and still go home full and with money in your pocket.
Happy Belly Tacos
125 N. Spruce Street
Our third and final stop of the day was at Happy Belly Tacos. Of the three taco shops we tried in Colorado Springs, I felt this one was the most authentic. Of course, I was happy to see an al pastor taco on the menu for the first time that day.
There are no frills at this taco shop next to a liquor store but you’ll find honest tacos like al pastor, barbacoa, carnitas, carne asada and a few more. This isn’t to say they don’t go off script here. For instance, they have a popular calamari taco. This taco went on the menu as a sort of insider joke (we were told). However, it has become a patron favorite and when they tried to take it off the menu, regulars got upset, so it has stayed.
I won’t lie, the Happy Belly tacos were the best on the day, but I’ll admit to enjoying a more authentic and less complicated taco. Give me good meat and a good soft corn tortilla and I am happy. This place does all that really well.
Happy Belly is fairly new, so they didn’t have a liquor license when we visited although it will be coming at some point. But if you are looking for a straightforward taco, sprinkled with lots of cilantro, this is the taco shop. I also loved their made-in-house green sauce and their esquites (roasted corn off the cob).
Speaking of esquites or as some call it, Mexican Corn, we were pretty full after our taco tour but couldn’t pass up ordering Cajun Elotes Street Corn from Slow Downz food truck later that evening.
On Friday, the hotel where we were staying, SCP Hotel, has a food truck on-site and we’d heard from Josh at Happy Belly that the Mexican Corn from Slow Downz is off-the-hook. He is not wrong.
Thank you to Visit Colorado Springs for hosting our taco tour.