By Philip Poston
By Jonathan Shikes
By Noah Reynolds
By Gretchen Kurtz
By Kate Gibbson
By Cafe Society
By Samantha Alviani
By Patricia Calhoun
Sound familiar? Here's what one of the owners of the defunct Señorita's Cantina (which occupied the space at 1700 Wynkoop Street that had been Sostanza and is now empty) said three months after that upscale Mexican restaurant opened: "I looked around downtown and saw that the quality of Mexican food is not really good. In Texas, people who want Mexican food want nicer places to go than they do here, and they want to spend more money on better-quality food. I knew I wanted to do something on my own at some point, and this seemed like the perfect space and the perfect type of cuisine for the area."
A much lower-end Mexican restaurant, Luna's on 38th (3380 West 38th Avenue), in the space once occupied by the troublesome La Bonita ("Food Fight!," March 13, 1998), has applied for a cabaret license -- the very thing that got La Bonita into trouble in the first place. But the Luna family, which opened Luna's Uno at 5410 West 64th Avenue in Arvada in 1989, knows how to work with this northwest Denver neighborhood. For starters, Rito Luna waited until his new establishment had been open nearly a year, with nary a peep of complaint from nearby residents, before submitting his application. And he's planning to use the dance room for weddings and catered events only, not for weekend house parties. "I don't need the headache of that," Luna says. "This is a family-run place, and so far we've had no complaints from the neighborhood." (Lisa Ferreira, an aide to Denver City Councilman Dennis Gallagher, corroborates that statement but says Gallagher wants to look at the space before making any comment himself.)
4900 E. Colfax Ave.
Denver, CO 80220
Region: East Denver
To keep things harmonious, Luna and his family have spent considerable time and money redecorating the cavernous building, including adding insulation to the rooms nearest the neighbors. "If they're not happy, I'm not happy," Luna says. "It wouldn't have done me any good to come in here and not make the people who live closest, and who could be eating here, upset." And more improvements are on the way, he adds, including a drop ceiling that will further soak up noise.
A guy who's really connected when it comes to Mexican food, Rick Bayless hits town this weekend for a live, in-studio visit at Rocky Mountain PBS (1089 Bannock Street). Bayless, who hosts Mexico: One Plate at a Time With Rick Bayless (it airs Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on KRMA-TV/Channel 6), will start at 9 a.m. on June 2 with recipe demos and culinary conversation; at 2 p.m., he'll head over to The Art Institute of Colorado Culinary Arts School (675 South Broadway) for a cooking demo. Call 303-620-5691 for much-needed reservations.
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