Openings and Closings

Avanti Close-up: Bixo Mediterranean Bites From Chef Marco Gonzales

Chef Marco Gonzales was born and raised in Mexico City but went to culinary school at L'Institut Paul Bocuse in Lyon, France, and worked in many Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe before returning to Mexico. "I went back to my country to try and get in touch with the food of my roots," he explains. After reconnecting with the ingredients of Mexico, especially in Oaxaca and Pueblo, he moved to Denver to help open a Marriott Hotel. But his ultimate goal was to start his own business where he could combine all his culinary passions into one menu — and the result is Bixo Mexiterranean Bites, now open on the second floor of Avanti Food & Beverage.

The menu at Bixo isn't exactly typical food-court fare, with habanero and pineapple foam, red onion caviar, cricket dust and bitter orange air punctuating a list of tapas-style dishes that would be at home in some of Denver's most visionary kitchens. But nothing on the menu is more than $15 a plate, and Gonzales expects groups of friends to share several plates in order to enjoy a full spectrum of his cooking.

He also realizes that the Avanti customer base will shift throughout the day, so he's putting simpler dishes on the midday menu — if paella with fresh Hawaiian shrimp sounds simple — so that his kitchen will be able to serve quickly to lunchers on the run. And during happy hour, Bixo will serve smaller tapas that pair well with the beverage list of Avanti's bar.

Because Avanti is an incubator for new businesses, Gonzales knows this version of Bixo is a short-term creation, but that's just fine with him: His eventual goal is to open a full-fledged restaurant in the city he's called home for the past two years. 

This week we're spotlighting the seven fast-casual food counters inside the brand-new Avanti Food & Beverage building, which just opened on Monday. Here are our other Avanti close-ups:
Poco Torteria from Pinche's Kevin Morrison
Farmer Girl from Chef Tim Payne
Brava Pizzeria from Dave Bravdica
Souk Shawarma from Jon Robbins of Bistro Barbes

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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation