According to the Rocky Mountain News about 3 years ago,
“an early morning fire gutted El Tejado, a Mexican restaurant at 1410 S. Wadsworth Blvd. When West Metro firefighters arrived, they found smoke and flames pouring through the roof.”
Assuming that that was the precursor to the El Tejado on S. Broadway, one wonders whether they thought their old name—tejado is the Spanish word for roof—was especially fitting postblaze, implying their hot hot hot cooking would just keep blowing the lid off their new digs night after night or something. They don’t need no agua or something.
But the potential for spontaneous combustion due to awesomeness was not obvious the night I dined there recently, despite the heartening fact that the menu’s not totally Americompromised—there are tacos de lengua, there’s machaca (shredded beef) with eggs for breakfast, & quail’s a weekly special. Nor is it that the meal was especially bad—just routine, just indicative of a certain amount of indifference on the kitchen’s part.
Though the ceviche de pescado we started with was 1 of the highlights, it didn’t resemble any ceviche I’d ever seen:
Instead of the goodly chunks of fish &/or shellfish, tomatoes, onions, peppers sweet & hot, cilantro & such I expected, we got a big soup bowl full of what the director likened to pico de gallo mixed with fish flakes. It also contained shredded carrot, traditional in no recipe I know of. (Edit: Make that knew of; see this Chowhound thread for its probable sources.) Nevertheless, I liked it for its combined tang of lime juice, cilantro & onion—pronounced but not insistent to the point of shouting down the mild yet plentiful fish. Plus the accompanying tortillas were nice & thick. I doubt they were homemade, but at least they weren’t badly made.
I can’t say the same for the green chile flooding the Director’s plate of carne adovada. Jeez, it should come with a storm warning.
Basically it was overly thick & underly itself. Long ago I posited the theory that green chile is clam chowder’s cross-country cousin w/r/t what determines the purity or adulteration of any given bowl—namely that it actually contain the ingredient it’s named for rather than a shitload of cornstarch; El Tejado’s cheap trick is Exhibit A. The pork was all right, but why go to the trouble of carefully marinating something if you’re just going to override said marinade with glop?
Essentially Mexican surf & turf, my entree had more going for it—but more going against it too.
Contrary to the menu description, I found no tomato in that heap of cubed sirloin, shrimp, bell peppers, jalapenos & onions—which made me just as glad, given that it might have risen to the top thereof (you know how self-seeking love apples can be flavorwise). I did, however, strike oil in there—greasy as it all was, I suspect it was cooked on the same flat-top used for breakfast. That, too, made me just as glad—soft, slippery & glistening, the onions & peppers covered for the tough bits of steak.
The Spanish rice was fine, though I honestly couldn’t tell you whether it came from a box of old family recipes or just a box. Which says a lot for the brand if the latter’s the case, not so much for l’abuela if the former is. Meanwhile, there’s far less question in my mind as to whether the so-called guacamole was really just a scoop of processed green sour cream from an institutional vat. Ditto the largely tasteless sludge passing for refried beans.
Before I cross this place off the list entirely, I’ll give its much-hyped mariachi brunch a shot. But the first line of the X has been drawn.
Lo, the day of reckoning is here. Back in July I vowed to slash some flab & so I have. I also promised an after pic—which I admit doesn’t look that different from the before shot in the link: the waist is smaller, but the pooch is rounder. So maybe the 8 lbs. I dropped were from my bellybutton, I don’t know. Nevertheless:
How did a gluttonous lush like me pull it off? Primarily by guzzling diet soda & reserving most of my RDA of carbohydrates for booze. Denveater 1; nutritionists 0.