What do Shaquille O’Neal and La Choza have in common? Tell ya in a minute, but first let’s consider what they don’t share. The former basketball player is slightly more than seven feet tall. La Choza is a tiny Pop-Tart of a food stand whose roof is scarcely more than six feet tall. See the short guy in the order window? He has to bend sideways to speak.
What else? Mr. O’Neal’s playing weight ran about three hundred twenty five. La Choza, serving up astonishingly good “out of the trunk” burritos and tacos at a secret northeast Boulder location, actually weighs a good bit more than the MVP center. My guess is probably nine hundo. Not bad for a house (ok, a small house, and no library) with two sweaty fellas in it.
O’Neal, the two-time All American from LSU may cook, but he certainly doesn’t cook like these cats. A typical lunch, like the one Chief and I each snapped up recently might look like this: three tacos for six dollars fifty cents, each taco comes open tapas-style and shotgun blasted with a salvo of minced tomatoes, onions and cilantro. Fresh? Please quit asking nonsense questions. Yes, fresh. So, taco one is asada: chopped bits of steak, both crunchy and juicy. Taco two is carnitas: shredded pork so tender it makes Aunt Bea seem like a dominatrix. And taco three…ahh yes, taco three with pastor: succulent, pineapple spiced pork chunks so sizzling, fresco, spicy, sweet and savory that you want to shake the hand of the hombre manning the grill. The burrito, when compared to a nine-ingredient Chipotle log is relatively spartan with its steak, onions, cilantro and cheese. But holy bomber, it is a three-dollar miracle. Weighty, rich and clearly made with a practiced hand, you have to s—t—r—e—t—c—h to think of something tastier. I’m not sure the big ex-Laker has ever had to stretch, even for dunks, rebounds or steals!
Looking for a quick, sanitary lunch at a pleasant bistro with ferns and classic hits of the sixties, seventies and eighties piped in quietly? A place named Nifty’s or Flinger’s, perhaps? Great, enjoy. But if you want authentic, cheap, Mexican hole-in-the-wall grub served at a place that’s more (much more) gas station than restaurant, then La Choza is mandatory. Get in line, man.
Oh yeah, what do the fifteen-time All Star NBA center and this simple taco stand have in common, besides being arguably the best? Just translate Choza, or figure out the Big Man’s nickname. While lame puns demonstrate bad taste, the tastes are all great at La Choza.