Kiké’s Red Tacos is relatively new to the Denver food scene. However, it won't be surprising to see their new truck being a major stop for all the hungry people in town. Their signature item, birria, make up the majority of food videos trending on social media. The shredded meat, tortillas glistening red from being dipped in the braising consommé liquid, construct a taco unlike the ones typically celebrated on Tuesdays.
Usually, al pastor tacos are considered the most flavorful because the sweet pineapples are used to tame the fiery spice. But in the birria, it is the technique and time investment that make you want to savor each bite. With this amount of flavor, eating a plate of four hefty tacos can take mere minutes.
Both Birria and carnitas are slowly cooked and soaked in their own juices. While carnitas tacos have acidity and sweetness from orange juice, birria has chipotle and smokey notes from chilis and spices. In the United States, chunks of beef are usually transformed into birria, but lamb or goat can also be used.
Kiké’s Red Tacos are proudly displaying their Jalisco heritage in the Highlands neighborhood. They are minutes away from Downtown Denver. Their black truck is illuminated by an “OPEN” sign from Tuesday through Sunday. A better indication might be the line looping around the lot with waits that extend beyond the hour mark.
Their patrons anxiously await their food, a taco steeped in a hot bowl of consommé, the cooking broth, that gets your heart pumping.
With a birria taco, it isn’t just the meat that gets special treatment. Their homemade corn tortillas have a signature red glow from being dipped in the consommé before laying it on the flat top to get a little char on the edges and stiffen up this soft tortilla. It has the texture of both a soft and hard shell taco but with more flavor.
Simple ingredients such as Oaxaca cheese, Mexican mozzarella, lime juice, onions and cilantro are there for acidity and freshness. It creates a cohesive bite with indulgence and freshness, crisp textures, and soft ones.
These tacos are just the beginning of what delicacies can come from birria. Their pile of nacho chips is hidden beneath its shreds. The addition of guac adds a smooth coolness to the spicy meat. The layer of yellow nacho cheese makes this a guilty pleasure.
Their burritos are tightly rolled and pressed on the flattop to achieve the same toast a panini has. Inside, the birria is stuffed alongside Mexican-style rice that has notes of tomato and cumin. The melted cheese makes a sauce for the burrito, but their spicy red or mild green works too.
As a wild menu item, they bring the nostalgia of college days to their truck by incorporating ramen noodles. They are served with a heaping amount of birria and cheese to give more depth to their processed, sodium-laden broth. There is a tingling spice and real flavor imparted into these little cups.
Yearly food trends have ranged from the health kicks of avocado toast and thick smoothie bowls to the color bombs of the galaxy and unicorn-colored dishes. But this year’s up-and-coming dish is a rich indulgence of slow-cooked birria. Better luck next year to grilled cheese dunked in tomato soup or Italian beef in au jus because right now, it’s taco time.
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