44 West Main Street
Cortez, CO, 81321
Hours: Mon thur Sat – 11am to 8:30pm
Pepperhead is an open, airy restaurant with beautiful paintings and rugs adorning the walls. The tables are along the walls, leaving the main walking area free, but spaced apart so diners have a sense of privacy. The feel of a Mexican cantina, but with a quiet and calming atmosphere. Tess, the co-owner, and the wait staff is very friendly; and answer questions with a smile. Her father, Pete, is the other co-owner, but we did not meet him the day we were there. The menu is small, but enables Pepperhead to concentrate on serving quality, not just quantity; and the meals are large.
Chimichanga — Large tortilla is filled with a choice of chicken, beef or pork and cheese, rolled and fried, and then smothered in red or green chile sauce. Roy had the shredded beef with the red chile sauce; the Chimichanga is no light weight, so good thing he was hungry. First we each tried a bite with just the red chile sauce, and it made the mouth explode; the beef tender and flavorful. A bit hotter than I like, so I tried a bite with a little sour cream, and the difference was huge. First you get the heat, but then the sour cream eases the heat down to a feel good experience.
Tampequeña -- Lightly seasoned thin-cut steak, cheese enchilada and a carne seca taco; served with rice and beans, sour cream, guacamole and tortillas. The steak comes folded, so you get more than you see at first; the seasoning was hot for me, but with a dollop of beans and sour cream, wrapped in one of the small, warm corn tortillas....heavenly. The carne seca taco opened my eyes; the grill taste of the meat was surprisingly awesome. They use white Monterey cheese, imported from Mexico, in the enchilada; it is mild, gooey and a plaything for the mouth. The rice is lightly seasoned and moister than most rice you get on a Mexican menu; the beans are the best refried beans I've ever had...not dry and very yummy.
We made sure to leave a little room for dessert and ordered one of our favorites.
Sopapilla – A hot, puffy flour tortilla with just a hint of crispness to the outside. Tearing it open, steam is released; the interior is bread soft and begging for a good dose of honey. We each had one of our own; it was the perfect dessert and contrast to the spiciness of the meals we enjoyed.
Salsa and Guacamole are made fresh on the premises.
The Salsa, if just looking at it, looks unimpressive; basically tomatoes, but it holds a secret surprise. Put some on a tortilla chip, eat it and then….wait for it…wait for it…oh, a nice slow burn that eases down the back of the throat, and the Salsa becomes alive.
I’m not a big fan of Guacamole, but the one at Pepperhead happens to go great as a condiment, or as a chip dip. It is slightly chunky, garlicky with a hint of sweetness, and a fine accessory to any of their dishes.
Not a fan of large, chainlike Mexican restaurants; then Pepperhead is the place you want to sit, relax and eat in.