Sneak peek: Matador opens tomorrow in Highland

Thumbnail image for Matador01.jpg
All photos by Lori Midson.

Back in July, when we announced that Matador Restaurant and Tequila Bar, a Seattle-based Tex-Mex restaurant, had signed a lease on the now-shuttered Heidi's Deli space in Highland, outspoken opponents weren't particularly shy about voicing their dismay: "I think most of us in the Highlands could really care less. We would rather spend our money locally not at a chain with crappy service and food because they're not invested in their business or community," wrote one cranky commenter. Be that as it may, Zak Melang, who co-owns Matador with partner Nate Opper, was all smiles last night during a packed-to-the-rafters preview party, and to the antagonists who are kvetching, Melang says this: "There hasn't been a day that's gone by that five or six people haven't stopped in front of the door to get their picture taken. The interest is there."

See also: Matador will open in Highland

In fact, Melang, who opened the first Matador in Seattle in 2004, contends that the Seattle store has more than its share of regulars, some of whom have made the shrine to skulls a weekly habit. "We have people coming in three, four times a week," he says. "We offer great value for what you get, our plates are beautiful, we make just about everything from scratch, including our chips, and while this isn't authentic Mexican food -- that's not what we're going for -- I truly believe that this is the best Tex-Mex food out there," he adds, noting, too, that he and his staff are "experts in tequila."

To prove his point, he gestures to the expansive back bar, a hallowed enrichment of the distilled spirit that gets it potent buzz from the fermented juices of the blue agave plant. Melang estimates that the wooden shelves harbor more than 110 tequilas, plus a dozen mezcals and a a few sotols. "It's my hope," says Melang, to "have the largest tequila selection in the state, and we'll keep upping the count as more great tequilas are made."

The tequilas obviously pair well with Matador's Mexican cuisine, a homage to tacos and enchiladas, burritos and fajitas, nachos and ceviche, queso, carnitas and carne asada. And a twice-daily happy hour -- 4 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. -- features "Texas size" nachos, pork verde flautas, ancho-chile wings, a taco plate, habanero- or garlic-prawns, and several more dishes for just $5 each.

"Our goal is to bring value and quality, both with our tequilas and our food, to the Highland neighborhood," says Melang, adding that his decision to open Matador in an area that already has its share of Mexican restaurants, including Pinche Taqueria, El Camino and Chipotle, was dictated by the space itself. "I've wanted to do this concept in Denver for the past six years, and this is just an awesome, awesome neighborhood, plus there's not a lot of turnover, and when we found out that this building was available, we knew it was the perfect spot for us," he adds.


Location Info

The Matador

3496 W. 32nd Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Music


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22 comments
Bill Menezes
Bill Menezes

That snake oily, Huckleberry Hound asshole who refused the neighborhood association's request to close before 2 a.m. like everyone else claims he loves the area, but doesn't live in it. He's not the one who'll have his tequila drunks pissing and puking in his front yard.

Falynn Derderian
Falynn Derderian

It's a great place! Went there Friday night and met the owner. The skulls are hand painted by local artists and then auctioned off for charity. Nothing trashy about that ;)

Jason Christopher Scholz
Jason Christopher Scholz

I am not excited about this place in my hood. Kinda trashy kinda ghetto. Not sure I get it

Dylan Wikepaugh
Dylan Wikepaugh

Is the picture on the post a Native American? Confused on how this has anything to do with mexican food Denver westword

Hache Je
Hache Je

Seattle-base tex men in the highlands that just doesn't sound right at all

Ana Cristina Hg
Ana Cristina Hg

Well there's always Chipotle right across from the street. Who by the way also has Tequila lol. Or just take a minute to drive out of the highlands and get real authentic Mexican food. Hache Je would you go?

bondad_prevalece
bondad_prevalece

Also, Lori. You know food, and you should know better than to refer to Chipotle as  "Mexican restaurant." Come on.

bondad_prevalece
bondad_prevalece

So let me get this straight. A "Mexican" restaurant run by gringoes which displays a stereotypical portrait of a Native American like you'd display a buck. Classy. I guess there's now a place for all the people who complain that people speak Spanish in Mexican restaurants to feel safe!

Virgil Dunn
Virgil Dunn

Actually, there isn't. How long did it take you to figure that out?

Mariah Seibert
Mariah Seibert

I love love the matador in Seattle! Awesome Margs and great happy hour. Can't wait to frequent Denver's!

g105
g105

On the recommendation of co-workers, went to their location in Boise two weeks ago. Food was much better than I expected, but still couldn't hold a candle to the innumerable mom-and-pop spots all over the Front Range. And while Matador had an excellent tequila selection, it was ridiculously overpriced and they have no clue how to make a proper top-shelf margarita. I get that most people in this country think a marg should be a tall drink served in a huge glass (or worse, frotzen)... but when you order a "traditional" marg with a top shelf like Casa Noble, you don't expect it to get drowned in 20 ounces of sour mix.

Martin Diaz
Martin Diaz

LOL ! This is funny. They flip back and forth from "Mexican " to "Tex-Mex" in the article. They are a Tex-Mex chain. "Tequila experts" my a$$! If they're not from Jalisco, Mexico where it's grown, fermented and bottled, they aren't experts. Bring an authentic Mexican restaurant. We are saturated with Tex-Mex already.

Dave Cleland
Dave Cleland

yeah that's what we need, Mexican food from Seattle, because we don't have any good Mexican food on this side of town.

Susanna Inanna Rhc
Susanna Inanna Rhc

I am going to try this! Because I hate Chipotle and don't have my own space to cook at the moment.

davebarnes
davebarnes topcommenter

Seattle contrived Tex-Mex. Oh, wow!

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