First look: Tamayo's million dollar remodel
Holy tequila! What a difference a cool million makes. That's the approximate coinage spent on remodeling Tamayo, Richard Sandoval's modern Mexican restaurant in Larimer Square that was closed just under four weeks to significantly upgrade the two-tiered space, which now looks like a brand new restaurant that fits beautifully into the fabric of one of Denver's most popular restaurant rows. In fact, more money crossed hands for the remodel than on the original opening -- and it shows.
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Gone are the carpeted floors; in their place are deep, dark hardwoods. The yellow walls have been brush-stroked with cream hues; burnt orange booths and sleek C-shaped booths the color of ebony have replaced the former upholstered ones; ornate, heavy Mexican chairs, cushioned with blue leather slide up to the espresso-hued tables that line the windowed wall that peers over Fourteenth Street; striking light fixtures -- the new art -- including a 300-pound chandelier, illuminate the quarters, while amber candles give it a soft glow. And upstairs, on the rooftop patio, new furnishings -- sofas, chairs and tables, plus a new bar -- invite lingering well into the night.
But the interior isn't all that's changed: Approximately 75 percent of the menu is new. There are now four versions of guacamole, including a killer smash of avocados pelted with chicharrons; several new tacos -- al pastor and smoked brisket among them -- dot the menu, all of which are served with black beans, rice and salsa; Sandoval added a huitlicoche and wild mushroom enchilada dish, smothering it with a fire-roasted poblano chile sauce; carnitas, arranged in a pyramid, are done two ways and mounded on a blue-corn tortillas pooled in a habanero-orange glaze; and there are now a trio of cazuelas -- traditional Mexican braises -- delivered with warm tortillas.
The beverage program has been upgraded, as well, with nearly 150 tequilas lining the shelves above the bar. House-infused tequilas, featured in flights, utilize teas, fresh herbs and fruits, and there's a small but formidable cocktail roster that will change seasonally, as will the infusions. And while Tamayo has always poured a superb margarita, several more have been added to the syllabus, including fresh fruit margaritas concocted with mangoes, strawberries or blood oranges.
Over the next few days, Tamayo will host friends and family dinners, and on Monday, it'll open to the public for lunch -- and resume its regular hours. But I was lucky enough to get an exclusive first look yesterday, and both the food and the space are picture-perfect.