Essays Uncategorized

The Long and Winding Road to Tacos

The car moved slowly down the road. My mom pressed lightly on the brakes, carefully turning the wheel and navigating the sharp turns. We were returning from a hair-raising climb to the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, CO. It was a 19-mile drive to the top, and once at the summit, we were almost above the clouds. The air was thin and the sun nearly blinding, but the view was incredible. Mountains and lakes stretched out before us in a beautiful tapestry. 

One thing was for sure: after the descent down the mountain and the two-hour drive to Denver, we needed some food. Denver was the final destination of our four-day trip around Colorado. I had never been to the state before, and it was amazing to see all the natural wonders it had to offer. Red rocks, stunning mountains, and majestic pine forests aside, one aspect of vacation never changes: the task of finding a restaurant for dinner. 

I knew from research that Denver was growing in popularity, and so was its restaurant scene. When we got to the hotel and settled in, my first task was to find somewhere to eat. I dove into the depths of Google reviews and Apple Maps, comparing cuisines, ratings, prices, and locations, hoping to cook up the perfect recipe for a perfect last night of traveling. I spent hours scrolling through “best of Denver” articles, scanning the pages for anything that jumped out at me. Yet, I couldn’t seem to find the best fit. On a hectic night in a city, everywhere seemed to be booked.

But buried in the search results was a restaurant that I kept overlooking. It was called Tacos, Tequila, Whiskey. It wasn’t at the top of my list earlier in the evening, but as the rain and dark clouds picked up outside, and the clock ticked closer to 7 p.m., the better some good old Mexican comfort food sounded. After all, we wanted to see the downtown area, and going out to dinner was our excuse to do so. 

I’ve always loved exploring new cities through checking out the restaurant scene, and Tacos, Tequila, Whiskey proved to be a great choice. Although it was dark and gloomy outside, the atmosphere inside was vibrant. The restaurant only served single tacos, and the waitress handed us menus on which we could mark the quantity of each taco we wanted. I was delighted to see not one, but three different vegetarian options. 

My mom and I sipped margaritas and enjoyed an appetizer of coconut shrimp, and before long, the tacos arrived. I had spicy ahi tuna, vegan walnut chorizo, and the special of the day, beer-battered cod. I’d never tried walnut chorizo before, and the meaty texture of the walnuts blended perfectly with the warm spices. The spicy tuna, however, tested my tolerance for heat. The protein itself was flavorful, but the chili flakes were even more powerful. I certainly warmed up from the chilly rain. My mom enjoyed her carne asada and pork belly tacos, and we clinked our glasses in celebration of our time together exploring the mountains and the food scene of Colorado. 

With the weather worsening outside, we saw the city of Denver through its restaurants. Just as we navigated the long and winding road to Pikes Peak, climbed through the red rocks of the Garden of the Gods, and reflected by the still waters of Emerald Lake in the Rockies, the delicious tacos marked another adventure completed. After a delightful dessert of churros with chocolate and tres leches cake, we drove back to the hotel in anticipation of our next great culinary outing.

Cover photo courtesy of Gillian Mahoney


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