Mexican cuisine can be found almost anywhere, from cities to towns to small neighborhoods. Colorado Springs alone has a multitude of Mexican food restaurants, and Trip Advisor has a list titled “10 Best Mexican Restaurants in Colorado Springs.” If there are 10 “best” restaurants, just imagine how many more exist! The problem with this is that it can make the decision-making process more difficult when it comes to eating out. Where can you get the best bang for your buck, best zing for your spicy sauce, and best taste for your taco? Also, there is no wrong time of day for tacos, so it becomes important to consider the feel of the meal you’re looking for.
Western Omelette, located just outside downtown Colorado Springs, opened in 1992. The owner, Bill Borders, has managed the restaurant since its opening, working alongside many of his family members. “There’s at least one piece of Bill’s family in each part of the restaurant. We have a really close bond together as a whole, like an actual family,” said Emily Toothman, an employee at Western Omelette. The family-run nature and the longevity of the restaurant is truly palpable.
Western Omelette reveals a true piece of the Colorado Springs’ community and aesthetic, standing apart from the vibe downtown in which many restaurants seem to shoot for a more high-quality, high-class, and hipster feel. Western Omelette, however, is everything but. The restaurant is orchestrated much like a traditional diner, consisting of two large rooms full of booths and regular tables. On Sunday morning, the place was absolutely packed, yet we were greeted immediately and sat at a booth within five minutes of entering.
“The atmosphere is warm, like walking into a friend’s whacky relatives’ house, where you’re not really sure what’s what or who’s who but ultimately all of it invites you in,” said Elliott Hiller, a senior at CC. “And the service is immaculate: full of hard-working women with an equally interactive and charismatic boss that’s buzzing around as much as anyone, checking in on all the kids and making sure everything is out to order—truly a western-style diner that has everything you could ask for.”
Western Omelette appears to be most popular for its breakfast selection. Although they offer omelettes, wraps, griddle and biscuits, steaks-n-chops, and traditional sandwiches, Western Omelette is most known for their southwest food selection, consisting of meals such as chili Rellenos, breakfast enchiladas, huevos rancheros, breakfast burritos, and steak fajitas.
They are most proud of their hot sauces. “Oh yeah, our chili is some of the hottest chili I’ve ever had in my whole life,” said Toothman. “We put a case of habanero peppers in the hot sauce every morning!” Their logo even reads, “Can you take the heat?” Several food orders come with the question, “and what would you like that smothered in?” With the choice of red, southwest, or hot/mild green chili sauces.
Not only do Borders and the other servers and staff members make you feel immediately a part of the restaurant and Colorado Springs community, but they also leave you feeling incredibly satisfied—over satisfied even, as you’re left full from a plate the size of a serving tray and hot bottomless coffee.
If you’re looking for a meal that won’t leave you feeling somewhat sedated, but still satisfied, and one that requires no more of a walk than to Rastall or Benji’s, La’au’s Taco Shop sits just behind Cornerstone Arts Center. Inspired by “Mama La’au” and Hawaii, La’au’s strives to serve homemade, fresh, light tacos, burritos, bowls, and salads. The website reads, “Our flavors are a tribute to Hawaii with roasted pineapple, mango, lime, green papaya and fresh Mahi-Mahi on our menu. We added our own twist with more adventurous tastes like Aji de Peru, ancho chilies, fresh radishes, and cojita cheese.” Their tortillas are made in house as well.
Named “your local taco hideaway,” La’au’s sits close and convenient for all Colorado College students, with most meals under the price of 10 dollars. “Close enough to be a campus eatery, but with un-campusy perks like burritos and happy hour!” said Charles Meyer, a junior at CC.
La’au’s is the perfect lunch spot, serving a variety of food options that will leave you feeling full but light and energized. Not only is the food a delicious deal, but La’au’s also has a happy hour option, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, where they serve bottled beer and margaritas that can be enjoyed on the outdoor patio area at two for five dollars.
Additionally, for an urban, Mexican food experience in the evening, T-Byrds is an excellent dinner choice located downtown. Although a small, dimly lit restaurant with several high tables and one long community table setup in the center gives a very mature and expensive feel, T-Byrds is both affordable and high quality. The combination of quality music, friendly service, and servers dancing with one another behind the bar makes the dining experience feel both comfortable and elevated.
Each taco is served with the aesthetic of an art piece and every ingredient with an intentional texture and flavor. Alongside a unique selection of sides such as pork belly wantons and Rocky Mountain Green Chili, there is a long list of taco options ranging from fried chicken or avocado, to fresh trout and spicy shrimp.
Similar to La’aus, T-Byrds leaves you satisfied but not completely stuffed. Although affordable on a regular basis, T-Byrds has both a daily happy hour, as well as a variety of deals on “Taco Tuesdays.” Every Tuesday for the whole day, this conveniently located restaurant offers $1 off all tacos, $3 Baby Byrd margaritas and swirls, $3 select beers, and $5 regular margaritas and swirls.
From a breakfast of chewy steak fajitas at Western Omelette, to a fresh burrito bowl for lunch with sweet mango and pineapple salsas at La’aus, to the dinner combination of fried avocado and fresh trout tacos at T-Byrds, Colorado Springs brings Mexican cuisine to a whole new standard of variety, character and caliber of taste.