- Wrap those tortillas around transcendently greasy meat at La Nueva Victoria.
I'm a pretty lucky guy. At least twice a month, I go out to eat, write about it, and then, I get paid for it. Amazing.
But while my friends rightfully envy my good fortune at going to spiffy, spendy restaurants for "work," it can be a little much. I'm not complaining not by a long shot but there's nothing nicer than going someplace in jeans and a T-shirt, only to be completely surprised by food so good it brings tears to the eyes.
Recently, I had this experience. Over the past two years, I'd been to La Nueva Victoria in southeast Colorado Springs for fresh tortillas more than a dozen times. On each visit I waltzed in, grabbed the packet I needed, paid, and hit the door, all without ever paying attention to anything else. Two months ago, my nose succeeded where my eyes had failed; there was something more in the air.
Next to the counter, in a glass-windowed hot-case, three rectangular aluminum trays held big chunks of meat, glistening with warm grease. Sight and smell led to recognition: These were carnitas, homemade and only available on the weekend.
I took a half-pound to go with the tortillas, and got in the car. Before making it under the MLK, I'd popped the box and pinched off a healthy chunk. My teeth literally sunk in, little bits of fat gripping at their sides, my mouth awash in salty sweetness. Instantly intoxicated, I was lucky not to crash.
A few weekends later, with my wife and my good friend Eric, an experienced eater of Mexican food, I returned to La Nueva Victoria, on a full exploratory mission. A veritable bounty of slow-cooked options awaited, ready to be rolled into tacos, laid onto tortas, or stacked into gorditas.
Filling choices lean heavily toward the "unfamiliar to most gringos" category, from tripas and buche (cow and pork stomach), to cabeza (head) and cesos (brains). I confess that anxiety overcame my curiosity, and my only adventure was with a taco de chicharrones: braised pork skin in a pale red sauce that was extremely rich.
Light, tangy adovada and delicate, charred lengua delighted, their flavors precise and refined. My wife even lucked into a delicious plate of enchiladas, a clean and simple affair of queso fresco cradled in La Nueva Victoria's fresh tortillas.
Chorizo and barbacoa shone, equaling the carnitas' "you've got to be kidding me" status. Perfectly greasy, the dense, chunky chorizo disappeared in seconds, followed closely by the rich, melt-in-your-mouth-tender barbacoa. Both simply must be tried, as they represent Mexican street food's true genius.
As if that isn't enough, La Nueva Victoria is also a full-scale bakery for Mexican sweet breads, including churros (fried dough pastries) stuffed with cajeta (a confection of caramelized milk), and some nice Mexican wedding cookies. Luckily, they can be taken home and eaten when the food coma wears off.
It may not be much to look at, but it doesn't matter. La Nueva Victoria's food simply amazes. Thoughts of chorizo and barbacoa tortas are sure to ruin my recent efforts to eat more healthily, and if they don't, the carnitas surely will. It's a blessing and a curse, but for this, I'm simply grateful.
La Nueva Victoria Tortillera
609 S. Circle Drive, 667-0332
Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., daily