Comic book store patron with comics

Erica Klimt, Co-editor

Posted at 1:00 p.m., March 12, 2015

Put some spice in your life

Playing video games, watching movies and TV shows, reading books, attending local events…doing all these this spring break is bound to make a person hungry.

Franchise fast food joints can become quite distasteful, and chain restaurant prices can become quite steep. And because Mexican food comes so naturally to the small business restaurateurs of Cheyenne, here’s a list of local, moderately priced, original Mexican food eateries around Cheyenne to enjoy during your staycation:

Casa de Trujillo; atmosphere star rating 3 and food star raint 4

Considered a landmark to Cheyenne natives, this family-run restaurant is all about the basics. The cozy atmosphere holds a certain ‘70s’ living room-esque sense including the retro carpet and brick arches. And the food is somewhat basic as well. If you’re looking for an over-the-top, gourmet experience, this is not the place for you.

But if you have a taste for affordable, small-town, mom and pop Mexican food, then this is definitely a local hotspot you should not miss. Be careful not to fill up on its flour chips and salsa because they offer everything from tacos to enchiladas and tamales to burritos. And if you plan your dinner date on a Tuesday, expect to wait for a table because Trujillo offers its locally renowned margaritas at a discounted price.

122 W. Sixth St., Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

J's Taco Bistro; atmosphere star rating 5 and food star rating 5

The only way to begin talking about J’s Taco Bistro is to start with the fragrancy. When you first walk into this brand-new, locally owned, restaurant you are greeted with a wonderful Mediterranean-meets-Mexican aroma. Because original food from Mexico was largely influenced by its resourceful oceans on either side, J’s Taco Bistro has brought that flair to this city with seafood twists on traditional dishes like tacos and chimichangas.

The newly renovated restaurant (previously Pizzeria Venti, same owners) offers a cozy atmosphere with original hardwood floors, dim lighting and a surprisingly large dining area with tables and booths. The original pizza bar now serves as the restaurants adult beverage bar, which is defined with a beautiful wood pergola overhead and serves bottled and draught beer, wine and mixed drinks (including the popularity-gaining cherry limerita.)

The food is just as impressive as the atmosphere and is absolutely delectable. The taquitos appetizer had just the right amount of crunchiness, and the guacamole seemed to have a bit of sweetness added. The carnita chimichanga was perfectly cooked with a good balance of tenderness and juiciness, which is important for the recipe. And the shell was so buttery and flaky it tasted like biting into a croissant.

The garlic-buttered chili shrimp tacos come highly recommended and for good reason. These street tacos with a twist include cotija cheese, creamy cilantro lime sauce, cilantro seasoning and the best part, watermelon pico de gallo. You’ll crave more of these tacos for weeks after your visit.

But be sure to save room because the best food in the joint is on the dessert menu. J’s offers flan as well as a Mexican dessert called tres leches cake. But the honey-coated sopapillas absolutely melt in your mouth, and the zango cheesecake is “almost sinful.”

112 E. 17th St., Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Los Abuelos; atmostphere star rating 4 and food star rating 4

Situated in the old Grier Furniture building and in keeping with the old style, Los Abuelos has enhanced the famous corner spot with its “western Mexican” décor and gourmet Mexican food. With upstairs seating offering a view of busy Lincolnway and the Cheyenne Depot Plaza, the floor-to-ceiling windows provide a big-city feel. Booth and table seating on the ground level are decorated with wood-burned horses to add to the Western feel.

A trip to the restrooms across the original hardwood floors is quite an adventure, taking you seemingly through an old brick warehouse.

But it leads you through the full bar with a separate entrance and more private dining.

One enthusiastic waiter known only as “The Kid” is more than happy to serve up a delicious margarita while you’re waiting for your food.

While the modern plates may be a bit bulky and cumbersome, the food is certainly tasty. Enchiladas Acapulco included surprisingly fresh-tasting crab meat and shrimp and was coated in a sweet enchilada sauce. The original enchiladas especial comes with one beef, one chicken and one cheese, all three of which were very moist and savory.

The rice, though, was the most surprising aspect of the meal. Served with lime beans, corn, peas and carrots, this twist on the traditional Mexican staple will have you thinking fried rice, but craving more Los Abuelos. They now also serve breakfast until 3 p.m., have daily special and cater!

1601 Central Ave., Hours: Sunday-Tuesday, 6 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Wednesday-Thursday, 6 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday, 6 a.m.-10 p.m. and Saturday, 6 a.m.-9 p.m.

Rodolfo's Mexican Grill; atmosphere star rating 2 and food star rating 4

Some frequenters call this a hole-in-the-wall and don’t offer much reassurance about the looks and feel of the building in particular.

But, boy, does this 24-hour restaurant have a following who have nothing but good things to say about Rodolfo’s food. Aside from the cliché stoner fan base because of its accessibility to hearty food at all hours, Rodolfo’s is enjoyed by young and old alike.

As with most of the restaurants in Cheyenne (or any city really), a person will be given a mixture of reviews. And although one would argue a restaurant should never have bad reviews, some people just cannot agree on their taste in Mexican food.

One can also argue about traditional and authentic all he wants, but when it comes to plain-ole, tasty Mexican food, Rodolfo’s hits the mark. People rave about the California, the carne asada and the carnitas burritos. And you simply cannot beat a breakfast burrito that uses French fries for potatoes, has a warm toasted shell and is chock-full of meat chunks.

They also offer a wide variety of tortas, tostadas, enchiladas and tacos, or you could opt for one of its combination meals like the tamale plate or the chiles rellenos, which come with beans and rice.

But the best items they offer are Jarritos (Mexican soda) and horchata, a traditional Mexican drink with almonds, rice and cinnamon, not something you generally see in this city. As one reviewer said it best, this is “no frills Mexican food.”

801 E. Lincolnway, Hours: Monday-Sunday, 24-hours

The Tortilla Factory; atmosphere star rating 3 and food star rating 3

Like Casa de Trujillo, this restaurant has been in and around this city for many years, 18 to be exact. Initially on South Greeley Highway, the owners have since opened a northern branch off Dell Range, closed the original South Greeley location and moved further south.

While most patrons admired the low-key, nontraditional atmosphere of the old building, The Tortilla Factory has opted for the more modern, industrial theme popular in chains such as Chipotle. They have obtained a much larger dining area and kitchen and have plans to soon open a full bar within the restaurant.

But you’ll be happy to hear its food has not changed. They still offer the same meals at the same prices, have catering options and still sell bulk items like their renowned tamales and green chili. The chips are thicker than their more traditional counterparts, but they work perfectly with the soupier, mild/medium salsa. The rice and beans have a very homemade taste, and the quesadillas just melt in your mouth.

In keeping with tradition they offer breakfast all day, barbacoa entrées, milanesa steak, fish tacos, a ceviche plate, gorditas, taquitos, a fajita wrap and an interesting concoction called a Mexican hamburger. If you’re looking for a break from Taco Bell and Qdoba, give The Tortilla Factory a taste, you won’t be disappointed.

715 S. Greeley Highway and 1507 Stillwater Ave., Hours: Monday-Saturday, 6 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sunday, 6 a.m.-5 p.m.

J’s Taco Bistro

Tortilla Factory

Local Events

Spring Break Staycation