Taco Dreams at El Segundo Eagle
¡Viva los tacos! That effervescent spirit imbues every square inch of El Segundo Eagle, which opened earlier this winter on Capitol Street. The high-energy, flavor-rich establishment offers globally inspired tacos, scratch cooking and mixology, and full-service dining in a colorful, friendly space.
“Eagle’s ready for what we brought to the table,” said co-owner and general manager Krista Schmidt with a laugh. “It’s a fun family spot — affordable and a great meeting or gathering place. We’re one of the few restaurants in Eagle that has full service.”
The Eagle hotspot is the second El Segundo taqueria for restaurateur Cameron Douglas and chef Dimitri Souvorin. After working together on Montauk Seafood Grill in Lionshead, the duo opened El Segundo Vail in Vail Village.
“El Segundo is such a fun model,” Douglas explained. “We have what it takes to do things a little bit differently. And in Eagle, it’s a more fun playing field, an up-and-coming market. There’s a vibrancy.”
And though the Vail location has a great view of Gore Creek, Souvorin loves the new space, too.
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“The view out of our new Eagle location is breathtaking,” he said. “So many times I’ve seen a giant herd of elk, or bald eagles.”
With three restaurants in Eagle County, Douglas has gone from up-and-comer to well established restaurateur. Part of his recipe for success is offering ownership opportunities to various members of his tried-and-true management team. A long-time GM himself before stepping into an ownership role, he’s been able to identify both gumption and dedication in his staff, and support various members into the next level.
“We’re busting at the seams with awesome people who want to do more,” Douglas said.
Souvorin echoes the sentiment.
“That’s an important thing to Cameron, to bring in more for the ownership team,” Souvorin said. “That allows us to build these great restaurants.”
Schmidt, a long-time assistant GM at El Segundo Vail, is happy to take this next step.
“I’ve always had a huge sense of pride in where I’m working and who I’m working with; it’s important to me to be in a successful spot,” she said. “It’s not that I care more now, but I do feel a different sense of pride, because I do own part of it. I was working really hard, someone noticed, and I moved up. It’s pretty exciting.”
El Segundo Eagle and Vail share a menu and an overall concept — the same 24 Hour Carnitas and Hot Korean tacos that you get in Vail are also in Eagle, the same Slim Shady and Segundo margs, the same everything. But though it’s early, the two locations have already established different rhythms due to their locations. While Vail has a heavy visitor population, ready to ski hard, refuel and après clear until a festive dinnertime, Eagle is a neighborhood joint in the truest sense of the word. It’s a family town with efficient lunches, a lively (well-earned) happy hour and dinnertime starts early — on a school night, it might be easier to get a table at 7 p.m. rather than 5:30.
But tacos and margs lend themselves to pretty much any dynamic.
“We’re a semi-traditional, globally-inspired taqueria,” explained Souvorin. “The taco list is big, it’s bold, it’s fun. We want to have a little bit of everything — really trying to hit all the bases.”
So there are the more traditional options, such as the aforementioned 24 Hour Carnitas — the pork shoulder is brined for 12 hours, then slow-roasted for another 12 hours. The fat renders, and it fries itself in a low oven, making it crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Carne asada and pico de gallo, mahi mahi and avocado, shrimp and mango — there are a lot of classic Mexican flavor combos. But there’s more.
“The Hot Korean just kills it,” Schmidt said.
That’s Korean barbecued wagyu beef with spicy kimchi, jalapeño aioli and toasted peanuts.
“People go nuts for the Fried Chicken Club,” said Souvorin, smiling.
The Southern-fried chicken and crispy bacon is a decadent foil for the fresh tomato, lettuce and avocado-buttermilk ranch. Seared ahi, guajillo-roasted cauliflower and lime-marinated chicken can all be found on the taco menu, too. And, any of the taco fillings can also be had in a burrito. Additionally, salads, nachos and rice bowls can be embellished with several of the options, too.
“Our focus is on freshness, and quality ingredients,” Souvorin said. “We make everything from scratch. We don’t mess around with canned sauces.”
And though there are a lot of delightful sauces on the menu — hello, chorizo queso fundido; cheers, lime crema — the straight-up house salsa is really hard to beat. A lot of thought and effort went into it, and it’s a zippy, full flavored experience that doesn’t get old. Souvorin created a balance of fresh and canned tomatoes, plus supporting players like fresh lime, onion and cilantro. Scooped up by a house-fried tortilla chip, perhaps alternated with bites of fresh seafood ceviche and guacamole, and it’s easy to fill up before the main event. Try it with a cocktail — the house margarita is a top seller.
“Everything is homemade and it’s got a great price point,” Schmidt said. “It’s good tequila with all fresh juices.”
But beyond that, the Friend of the Devil (cucumber, jalapeño and fresh lime) and Kiss from a Rose (white sangria) are also contenders.
“Most of our drink names are funny plays on songs or artists,” Schmidt said. “We try to keep it fun. We’re not solving world problems, we’re just trying to give you quality tacos and quality margs — and smiles for miles.”
El Segundo Eagle
1020 Capitol Street, Eagle, CO
Open daily, noon – 10 p.m.
El Segundo Vail
223 Gore Creek Drive, Vail, CO
Open daily, 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.