On the Plate: Anti-Tacos at Rebel Restaurant

By D.J. Costantino | Illustrated by Becki Kozel


D.J. Costantino
Illustrated by Becki Kozel

Past the pinball machines, animal pitchers, and garden gnomes, back in the kitchen of Denver’s Rebel Restaurant, Chef Dan Lasiy is cooking some of the city’s most imaginative, in-your-face food. He’s making Hawaiian pierogis, serving pig heads on silver platters, and turning turnips into cheese. And in a town with “a shit ton of white boy tacos,” Lasiy is living up to his restaurant’s name, creating his own “anti-taco.” Inspired by an afternoon with friends and Colorado’s new favorite legal substance, his smoked beef tongue, burnt tortilla purée, and Colorado chow chow reconfigures classic Mexican flavors through the clouds of Lasiy’s warped and wonderful mind.  


Lasiy braises Colorado beef tongue with chiles in a pressure cooker before it gets a hit of smoke from apple and cherry wood. It’s sliced and grilled at pickup for an extra layer of smoke. To finish the dish, he drizzles a chipotle and guajillo chile glaze over top.

After forgetting one too many tortillas on the burner, Lasiy knew he couldn’t just toss them in the trash. He blends burnt tortillas with sour cream, lime juice, and house pork jus (leftover from boiling pig heads) to a grits-like consistency. As a garnish, he chars whole scallions on the grill to preserve their fresh flavor and add a vegetal punch.

Lasiy coronates and balances the beef with Colorado chow chow, a relish of diced pickled green tomatoes, toasted peanuts, chayote squash, olive oil, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.

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