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El Pacifico

Grand Lake CO

920 grand ave, grand lake CO 80447

El Pacifico (Grand Lake CO)

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Rating: 78
Price: $$$$

Part of's colossal success over the past several years has been our focus on cornering the unexplored markets in the taco-reviewing world. A gaping hole in the online taco community is a resource for hungry people standing directly on the Continental Divide. For, as most hikers know, from the peak of Mt. Ida there are multiple taco options within striking distance, and the real question is: "West or East?"

We tackled an eastern option, Chelito's, with much success during a 2012 trip to Estes Park. In a 2013 follow-up fact-finding journey, we sampled the reputed best of the west: El Pacifico, in Grand Lake CO. On Grand Lake's downtown boardwalk, we were drawn in by a sign promising 2-for-1 margaritas, and by the necessity for a pre-show meal. Throughout our meal, Chief Taco Correspondent Erin & I were joined at various points by local business associates Christina, Kent, Mo, and Josh.

After a multi-stage appetizer feast (including chips & salsa, queso, and nachos), I put in an order for some tacos. The options at El Pacifico are fish, chicken, or beef; however, the fish tacos are priced and categorized separately, causing me to forget about them when I ordered, so they were necessarily excluded from this review. I ended up with two beef and one chicken, which also came with rice & beans on the side, on a soft flour tortilla. The tacos came out after only a brief wait.

Even if you've never been to El Pacifico, you're already familiar with the beef taco, and have probably had it before: flour tortilla, ground beef, and a sprinkling of lettuce/tomato/cheese. The beef was a fairly standard ground beef, salted & spiced with a classic 'taco seasoning blend'. While this is unavoidably delicious and satisfying, it's also not particularly exciting, and can be easily recreated in one's own kitchen. The chicken taco was the same in all aspects except filling- but, the filling was a significant step up. The chicken was marinated, shredded, and surprisingly flavorful. The marinade was lightly smoky with a bit of citrus and salt; appropriately mild, but still flavorful. This turns out to be one of the rare restaurants where the chicken outshines the beef.

One notable absence at El Pacifico was a unique hot sauce with which to top these tacos. We had a bottle of Cholula (always enjoyable), but not quite as exciting as a house-blend of salsa. The salsa we got with our basket of chips was insufficient to even cover that, let alone be used for taco-augmentation, and El Pacifico was less-than-forthcoming with additional chips/salsa, even as our party expanded beyond our original 3.

So, to return to our original hiker-on-a-ridge construct: unless one has an auxiliary reason to venture into Grand Lake (of which there are many) I would follow the prevailing winds to the east.

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