Chile Con Quesadilla food truck opens taco restaurant in Brighton

Christina Richardson has a knack for creating recipes that get attention.

A lot of attention.

Over the last three years, Chile Con Quesadilla, the two bright pink food trucks that Richardson runs with her husband, Jason, and their son, Dillon, have earned continuing local accolades at events like the Shake + Brake Showdown, Beer & Bacon Classic, and Top Taco Denver, along with honors and recognition from Westword and other media outlets.

All of that success meant the family was ready to take the next step. In late March, they opened a 140-seat restaurant, at 227 N. Main St. in downtown Brighton, where Christina will bring her green chile, birria tacos, and brisket quesadillas to a wider audience. A pending liquor license will also allow them to serve margaritas, sangrias, and local craft beers from 16 taps.

The 6,000-square-foot location, near where the Richardsons live in Commerce City, features games, flat-screen TVs, a brick-and-wood interior and bright pink accents — like the trucks.

“It was always our plan,” Christina said about opening a brick-and-mortar location. But the pandemic got in the way for a while as banks weren’t funding a lot of restaurants at that time.

So after closing a small cafe they ran in the Denver Tech Center, the Richardsons decided they needed to get Christina’s food out to the public by way of food trucks, and the response was overwhelming, she said. “We opened on March 15, 2020, and we worked every day through COVID,” rolling up to apartment complexes and private events and into neighborhoods all over metro Denver, where people were locked down and looking for something to do.

Chile Con Quesadilla serves 10 kinds of quesadillas, from classic pork or chicken and green chile to some unusual combos like mac and cheese and a Cubano. But it also dishes out most of its menu items as tacos, nachos, sandwiches or bowls.

Two of the biggest fan favorites – the ones that sell out – are Christina’s birria tacos with a broth for dipping (consommé), and the Triple B Taco with brisket, barbecue sauce, bacon, cheese, green chile and crispy onions.

“Her consommé is amazing. People would lose their minds over it,” Jason said. “But the Triple B – those tacos are what we won (Top Taco Denver) for. The brisket tacos are where it’s at.”

Jason did all of the logos and artwork for Chile Con Quesadilla, including its very recognizable sugar skull on the side of the neon pink and black trucks — Christina’s favorite colors since she was a child — and restaurant. But the recipes are all hers.

“I have a really creative nature,” she said. “I’m not trained in the kitchen, but I’m trained by experience, so I’m not in a chef-y box where you have to do things in a certain way.”

Ironically, one of her first hit recipes was for pork green chile, which she hadn’t made before. “I never grew up around green chile, but I’m Latina so I have seen it a lot,” she said. “One day, I just made it and my family went crazy. So I would make it for parties and people loved it.”

“The green chile sort of sparked all of this,” she added.

The Brighton restaurant, which is set up in a fast-casual style, was slightly bigger than what the Richardsons had been looking for, but Jason said it was the right location at the right time.

“It’s like the food truck, but on steroids,” he said, adding that, “our big-picture vision is multiple locations. We’re really trying to step up our game.”

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