Nov 19, 2021 - News

A taste of Texas is everywhere in Denver

Vaca Gordo’s spin on the Frito pie, a Lone Star State classic. Photo: Alayna Alvarez/Axios

If the onslaught of license plates isn't proof enough, all you have to do is look around at some of Denver's newest restaurants to see that the Texas takeover is real.

What's new: In the past month and a half, at least two Tex-Mex restaurants have opened across the city, and plans for a third were recently announced.

  • On Nov. 1, a new Tex-Mex concept called Vaca Gordo took a stall space at Avanti Denver. The eatery combines the best of both worlds, featuring tender Texas barbecue and hearty Mexican staples, from tostadas and churros to spicy rice and beans.
  • In October, El Tejano Tex-Mex opened its doors in LoDo, specializing in classics like Frito pie, enchiladas and chile con queso.
  • Around that same time, Austin-based Torchy's Tacos, a fast-casual chain, revealed plans to open its fifth Denver restaurant and debuted its first location in Colorado Springs.

Why it matters: Local eateries are increasingly reflecting the tastes of Texans, as more transplants call Colorado home.

  • The Centennial State was the largest contributor to Texas' net migration loss in 2019, when it drew in 32,000 people, Texas Monthly reports.

Yes, but: It's not just the influx of Tex-Mex signaling a shift in our state's demographics. Texas-style beef and barbecue businesses are popular locally too.

  • Smōk — a Denver-born restaurant that fuses Texas- and Kansas City-style barbecue — opened its first Fort Collins location in late October, the second in the state.
  • Plates By the Pound BBQ, founded by a Texas native, started slinging servings of brisket in Aurora in mid-September.
  • And Texas-based hamburger chain, Whataburger, is eyeing more locations as part of its Colorado Springs expansion announced this year.

Alayna's thought bubble: Sure, you may consider me part of the "problem" as a Texas transplant, but my home state is known for some seriously good food, y'all.


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