Photos: A first look at Al Lado, chef Richard Sandoval's new Latin wine and tapas bar
Lori Midson Chef and restaurateur Richard Sandoval behind the bar at the new Al Lado, opening next Friday.
For the past three years, chef and restaurateur Richard Sandoval, who owns 35 restaurants around the world, including five in Denver and two in the mountains -- the most he's opened in any state -- has been methodically planning one of his newest concepts: Al Lado, a Latin wine and tapas bar that resides directly next door to Zengo, which Sandoval opened in Riverfront in 2004.
"My partners and I started working on the concept for Al Lado three years ago, and then the recession hit, but we finally got to the point where we thought the timing was right," says Sandoval, with whom I spent yesterday afternoon. "It made sense to do it now," he adds, "since Al Lado and Zengo share the same kitchen and the same liquor license, and that helps keeps our expenses down."
The concept, rooted in Sandoval's Latin/Mexican roots -- he was born in Mexico City -- is, he says, "a Latin wine bar with a determined focus on Latin wines and simple, Spanish food. They work really well together," he says, adding that "Al Lado is my homage to a new generation of Latin winemakers, and the thoughtful cuisine that their evolving culture -- and viticulture -- inspires."
The crew was putting the finishing touches on the space yesterday, and while Al Lado doesn't officially open until Friday, August, August 16, Sandoval and his staff gave me an early peek at the food, cocktails and quarters, the photos of which are on the following pages.