This week, we'll venture to Mexico, muchachos.

In my own trip to El Poblano for mole, perhaps the sexiest sauce ever created, I've made off with more than I could have hoped: When I asked for details on the outfit's rendition, they sent me a brief history of the sauce and their own recipe in full. (Que fantastico!)

I of course can't share it all, but here's a teaser of just some of its 22 ingredients: pasilla, mulato, ancho and chipotle chilies, turkey stock, lard, unsweetened chocolate, almonds, raisins, clove, cinnamon and anise.

Meanwhile, at two new eateries, Monika and Bryce looked for other ingredients for success, with mixed results.


El Poblano

908 N. Circle Drive, Suite A, 632-1971

Ever since voting El Poblano Mobile to the top of our "taco truck throwdown" around this time last year, I've been anxious to visit its home base on Circle Drive. The main draw: to try Lalo Garcia and Maria Ramos' mole, which Garcia had talked up last year.

You'll find it as mole poblano ($8), a puddle of the sauce over chicken, or mole enchiladas ($7), the same chicken wrapped in corn tortillas, garnished with Mexican cheese. Both also come with a toasted sesame seed and white onion garnish, Mexican rice, beans and lettuce. The sauce is dark, creamy, rich, mildly sweet, not very spicy, and earthy in that lovely chili pepper way. I'd rate El Poblano's as equal to the Flow of Mexico's (though still short of my Mexican-vacation benchmark). Totally worth repeat visits. — Matthew Schniper


Pueblo Viejo

5934 Stetson Hills Blvd., 638-6040

Pueblo Viejo's fourth Colorado location again shows a more upscale Mexican style. In the former East Coast Deli spot, you now find harvest colors of greens and golds, accompanied by beautiful arched pressed metal artwork depicting Old World scenes. Even the staff looks sharp: black pants and crisp, solid-color dress shirts.

The menu, with vivid photos, is extensive. I opted for the seafood section, and the Camarongos ($13), a stir-fry of plump shrimp and mushrooms with avocado arrived on a huge 12-inch platter. My request to substitute the beans for cheese-less veggies was unfortunately forgotten. And while the shrimp and mushrooms were properly cooked, the ratio was a tad out of whack and oily. Perhaps if the plates were smaller, the filler wouldn't have been so noticeable. — Monika Mitchell Randall


Puerto Palomas Mexican Restaurant

208 N. Union Blvd., 578-7845

In the space you may have known as Bobbi's, you now find Puerto Palomas, named for a small Chihuahuan town that borders New Mexico. It greets you with warm colors, stucco walls, drapes of Mexican blankets and a pretty average-looking menu. However, the above-average food — namely, Sizzling Pancho Fajitas ($10.99), and a threesome of cheese enchiladas, tamales and chile relleno ($8.50) — kept this gringo grinning.

The fajitas came loaded with tender skirt steak, peppers and big slices of onion. The typical beans and rice were salty and rich, while the pico popped with chopped jalapeños. A well-structured red sauce defined the mix plate, and while it drenched the relleno and tamale enough to compromise their texture, the steaming cheesy bites made up the difference. — Bryce Crawford

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