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Two restaurants in Denver have been named in Nation’s Restaurant News’ “Breakout Brands” of 2018 — Tacos Tequila Whiskey and Maria Empanada.

Nation’s Restaurant News, a publication that does exactly as its name implies — which is cover restaurant news (duh) — has released its annual list of the “Breakout Brands.” And two Denver restaurants have made the list this year: Tacos Tequila Whiskey and Maria Empanada.

The list recognizes eight restaurants across the nation that are “stirring the pot” and have “that something special.”

In years past, winners have included Punch Bowl Social and Dog Haus.

Tacos Tequila Whiskey

breakout brands

Courtesy of Taco Tequila Whiskey (Facebook)

What started as a food truck back in 2010 has now grown into four brick-and-mortar locations — three in Denver and one in Phoenix. Kevin Morrison, chef and owner of Tacos Tequila Whiskey, told Nation’s Restaurant News that they are always looking for ways to expand across the country and that there’s the potential for another location to open up in 2019. But he was mum on which city it’ll be.

The restaurant serves, you guessed it, tacos, tequila, and whiskey. They’ve also got a great selection of margaritas, bloody marys, and mimosas. To view Tacos Tequila Whiskey’s full menu, visit its website.

Locations: City ParkGovernor’s ParkHighlands

Maria Empanada

breakout brands

Courtesy of Maria Empanada

Lorena Cantarovici, founder of Maria Empanada, is an immigrant from Argentina and started the restaurant by selling empanadas in her garage. Cantarovici was named Colorado’s Small Business Person of the Year in 2017 and she scored $3.5 million in funding from the Colorado Impact Fund. With that money, she hopes to expand Maria Empanada across the country.

Empanadas are, obviously, her specialty, but she also serves tartitas as well as other croissants and pastries. You can view the full menu on the restaurant’s website.

Locations: South Broadway | Denver Tech Center | Stanley Marketplace

What do you think? Have you been to Tacos Tequila Whiskey and/or Maria Empanada before? If so, what did you think? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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