Good Mexican: El Paraiso
If you are a fan of delicious Mexican food, Denver is a great place to live. There are tons of Mexican restaurants to choose from in virtually every neighborhood, and most of them are quite Good. If you’re looking for the restaurant with the biggest menu, tastiest food, and a little mariachi music on the side, though, El Paraiso (Spanish for “Paradise”, 4690 Harlan St.) will give any Denver restaurant a run for its money (and almost always it will win).
Located near I-70 and Harlan, El Paraiso is a 10-15 minute drive from downtown. While it is probably a longer trek there than to your neighborhood Mexican restaurant, you will be very happy with your decision to go a little bit out of your way. The menu is ENORMOUS. Offering authentic options from different regions of Mexico and placing a special emphasis on seafood, with eight pages worth of menu items, there is definitely something Good for everyone.
We could go into detail about how Good the Chicken Mole, Flautas, Smothered Burrito, and dozens and dozens of other menu items are, but why would we when we could talk about one menu item that gives you a taste of nearly everything? Enter the world of the Parillada: a sizzling mountain of food served on a metal plate atop white-hot charcoal. El Paraiso has a full page of different Parillada options. We’ve tried several, and we can tell you in no uncertain terms that each one has been phenomenal–absolutely phenomenal.
The last time we went, we got the Parillada Fiesta, which includes Fajitas de Steak, Fajitas de Adobada, Camarones, Filete de Pescado, y Queso Fundido. Did we mention that most of the menu is in Spanish? If you don’t know Spanish, you’ll probably want to bring a Spanish/English food dictionary–this place is authentic. We’ll do some translating for you here, though. According to the menu, the Parillada Fiesta comes with steak fajitas, marinated pork fajitas, shrimp, a grilled fish fillet, and melted cheese in a crispy tortilla bowl. That’s not all it comes with, though–it also comes with handmade tortillas (so Good), grilled peppers and onions, homestyle french fried potatoes, and your choice of beans or a baked potato.
The food at El Paraiso is not only some of the best food overall in Denver, and we would go so far as to say that the Parilladas from El Paraiso are some of the best individual dishes Denver has to offer. While you’re there you’ll probably hear a lot of Spanish spoken, notice quite a few cowboy hats, and on weekend nights you’ll be treated to great live mariachi music. The band wanders from table to table, takes requests, and it is even common to see guests get up and start dancing along with the music.
To dine at El Paraiso is an experience that you will definitely remember, and we’d wager that you’ll be back repeatedly after your first visit. ¡Ole!
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