It’s always taco time in the Vail Valley |

It’s always taco time in the Vail Valley

Rocky Mountain Taco's Southern California-inspired Mexican fusion food culture

Fresh house-made chips topped with Carne Asada, melted nacho cheese, avocado sauce, pico de gallo and crema.
Barry Eckhaus/Special to the Daily

Taco people are the best kind of people. Just ask the crew at Rocky Mountain Taco, home of the “world’s most best taco” and, therefore, the world’s most-best-taco eaters. What started as one roaming taco truck has grown to a truck (EagleVail), trailer (Avon) and brick-and-mortar (Minturn) operation, bringing that Southern California-inspired Mexican fusion food culture to the hungry folks of Eagle County.

Freshly griddled tortillas, highly seasoned, succulent fillings, piquant pops of salsa, maybe some cheese or crema — there’s a lot to love about a taco. And though almost anything can work inside a tortilla, Rocky Mountain Taco has dialed in a list of favorites that are crafted with lots of flavor and care.

Top of the list is the Alambre.

“This came from the wife of my partner, who’s from Chihuahua,” said Dan Purtell, who opened the business with Jose Reza and Chris McGinnis. “It’s got marinated steak, chorizo, bacon, onions and peppers. In Chihuahua, they cook it on a skewer; we cook it on the grill all at the same time. It’s a little indulgent, and really good.”

“It’s a little indulgent, and really good.” Dan Purtell, co-owner

A trio of Rocky Mountain Tacos: Alambre, Carne Asada a Hippie Crack.
Barry Eckhaus/Special to the Daily

The smokiness of the bacon highlights the meaty steak and spiced Mexican sausage, while the grilled veggies bring some sweetness to the whole thing. Zippy tomatoes and onions in the pico de gallo cut the richness, bringing some contrast and balancing it out. It’s a keeper. As for Purtell, he’s partial to the Hippie Crack: red potatoes grilled with onions, poblano, Anaheim and bell peppers, then topped with melted cheese and crema.

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“We needed a good vegetarian option, and it’s easy to make vegan,” Purtell said. “Sometimes people don’t realize it’s vegetarian, it’s just that good.”

There are lots of choices: slow-cooked pork carnitas, grilled carne asada, chicken, beans, even a vegetarian chorizo and the Cali Style — steak and fries, topped with cheese and crema. And the menu is terrifically user friendly, offering the fillings in a variety of options in addition to tacos: burritos, bowls, tortas, quesadillas and nachos. And though all of the Mexi choices are available at all three locations, you have to head to Minturn for a couple of things in particular, namely, the burgers (wow) and the vintage skate-culture, colorful vibe.

Part of Rocky Mountain Taco’s decor includes a multitude of colorful skate decks.
Barry Eckhaus/Special to the Daily

They used to offer the burgers as a special at the trailer in Avon, but they got so popular they had to stop doing it in the tiny space. They promised their customers if they ever had a bigger kitchen, they’d put the burgers on the menu. Along came the Minturn location, and RMT’s burger fans held them to their word.

“It was almost a joke when we started doing them,” Purtell said. “But we got pretty serious about it. I think they’re pretty unique, especially the Korean barbecue one.”

He’s partial to Danimal Style — a nod to both beloved SoCal burger chain In-N-Out, and to Purtell’s nickname, Danimal.

Rocky Mountain Taco’s Korean BBQ burger with 1/4 lb. patty, cabbage slaw, bacon, Korean BBQ sauce, caramelized onions and sharp cheddar cheese.
Barry Eckhaus/Special to the Daily

“It’s an elevated version of In-N-Out’s animal style burger,” Purtell said. “We serve it on a beautiful bun from Avon Bakery — all of our burgers are served on them. And we add caramelized onions for extra sweetness, along with Danimal sauce.” The burgers are so popular, Rocky Mountain Taco has won for them in the local Best of the Vail Valley readers’ choice awards — not bad for a taco biz. They also garnered wins for best Latin American restaurant, burritos, lunch and, fittingly, food truck. And that’s something they’ll toast with a Modelo, or a craft brew from Vail Brewing Company, found both on tap and in cans at the Minturn restaurant.

Rocky Mountain Taco

291 Main St., Minturn


Food truck in front of Vail Brewing Company:
41290 US Hwy 6, EagleVail

Food Trailer:
80 W. Benchmark Road, Avon

Tacos $3; Tortas, bowls
and burritos $10

Lively, fun tacqueria

Signature dish
Alambre tacos and
burritos — steak, chorizo, bacon, onions and peppers, grilled together

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