By Charlie Howard
For the Camera
Link to Story: Here
If You Go
What: Benny's Tacos
When: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Friday
9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday
Where: 347 Main St., Longmont
When the Daily Camera's food critic ranked Benny's Tacos of Longmont the best traditional taco in the city, it may have come as a surprise to the foodies who frequent the downtown scene.
That's because Benny's is a new kid on the block — really new.
The little taco restaurant located at 347 Main St. moved into the space only four months ago, the fulfillment of a 20-year dream for owner and founder Benny Payan.
"I have been saving as much money as possible over the last 20 years so that one day I could have this restaurant," Payan said.
That included running a food truck on the side of full-time work at local farms. The food truck sold much of the same fare Benny's is now gaining local fame for: Street-style tacos with yellow and blue corn tortillas, topped with meat, chopped onion, cilantro and a fresh avocado wedge.
The recipes are Payan family secrets, and the modest prices reflect the taco-truck past: a plate of four tacos can be had for less than $7.
Payan still works part time on a farm to help augment the costs of his still-growing business, but traffic has been picking up.
"Business can be slow, but it's growing fast," said Payan's daughter, Yahaira. "I've heard that the first year is always the hardest."
Benny's got a slight boost from the local press. Lines were out the door the day after receiving the top ranking.
"We had to close early because we ran out of food that day," Payan recalled, assuring potential patrons that he would stock enough food next time around.
The restaurant is also in the process of securing a startup grant from the Longmont Economic Development Partnership, according to Janine Ledingham, director of local business and startup community development.
"They're serving great authentic Mexican food and have done some great facade changes to the building," said Kimberlee McKee, executive director of Longmont Downtown Development Authority. "(The Payans) are just a wonderful family and wonderful addition to downtown."
Longmont resident Laura Grimaldo is a regular at Benny's and makes an appearance at least twice a week to get lunch.
"It is easily some of the best food in Longmont, and definitely the most reasonably priced," Grimaldo said. "Everyone treats you well when you go in to get a bite.
"You don't see service like that anymore."