More than 10,000 of you voted and chose the finalists for NoCo's Best restaurants, from BBQ to pizza to breakfast and more. Our judges Dave and Henry went to your three favorite Mexican restaurants, ate some great food, and hashed out the winner.

Here are the finalists for NoCo's Best Mexican Food in 2021:

Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant

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The Rio Grande is a staple in Fort Collins (and Greeley), so no one is surprised that it made it to the finals. Known mostly for its margaritas, the Tex-Mex restaurant has served up good food and drinks for decades. Dave from Townsquare NoCo radio station Retro 102.5 and I sat down on a Monday afternoon for a late lunch on the outdoor patio. Dave had a chicken burrito, and I had the chicken enchiladas. Dave said his burrito was great, and the ambiance of the back patio was a nice setting for lunch. I really enjoyed my chicken enchilada as well.

Blue Agave

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At Blue Agave in downtown Fort Collins, Dave and I wanted to order the same style of dish we'd tried at The Rio, so he had the burrito, and I had the enchilada. Blue Agave seemed a bit more upscale, and Dave even called it the "steakhouse" of Mexican food in NoCo. The setting and decor are, of course, great, but what about the food? Dave and I ended up waiting for a while as they were fairly busy, but eventually, our food came. The food was pretty good. It seemed a bit busier than the food at the Rio. Overall, the food was good but we felt like the restaurant was a little too busy.

La Buena Vida

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La Buena Vida was the last finalist Dave and I had the pleasure of trying. La Buena Vida was the most authentic Mexican food we had during our taste tests. Once again, Dave and I ordered the same things we had ordered at the previous two restaurants to have an accurate comparison. La Buena Vida was fast, and they had hot chips and two types of salsa on the table as soon as we sat down. The food was great and clearly authentic Mexican cuisine.

NoCo's Best is an annual program that recognizes the best Northern Colorado restaurants and food selected by the residents of Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley and NoCo towns.

NoCo's Best 2021 winners were announced at the 2021 Taste of Fort Collins.

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