The Place: La Sandia Cantina, 8340 Northfield Boulevard, 303-373-9100
The Hours: Daily from 4 p.m. to close
The Deals: $5 cocktails; $3 Mexican beers; $3 small plates
Were we happy? Flip the page to find out.
The Digs: Denverites are familiar with Zengo, and probably equally familiar with Tamayo, both of which are hot cocktailing spots from New York chef and restaurateur Richard Sandoval. But unless you're trapped in suburban sprawl, you may not be aware that Sandoval has another restaurant in our midst called La Sandia. Stuffed into the blocks of chain retail shops of Northfield Stapleton (there's a second location at Park Meadows), La Sandia offers refuge from the fabricated consumerism, which includes portable speakers lurking in the landscape, giving the streets an eerie soundtrack no matter how far you walk to get away.
La Sandia is airy and attractive, with only minimal hints of being a restaurant chain. The bar is long and comfortable and decorated with empty bottles of silver tequila; the lounge is even more comfortable: plush modern tiki chairs surround wicker tables and large doors open to the spacious outdoor patio.
The Verdict: Unless you enjoy frequenting aforementioned shopping areas in the middle of nowhere, the chances are slim that you'll just wind up at La Sandia. After desperate attempts at finding items on baby and wedding shower registries while elbowing through masses of desperate housewives, a fellow bachelorette and I were relieved to see a patio filled with people sipping margaritas. We rushed inside and opted to escape the heat by ordering drinks in the air conditioned bar.
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We both chose the prickly pear-blueberry margarita, but we had to wait a loooong time to place our order even though there were only three other imbibers at the bar. Our livers grew impatient as we scanned the food menu. When our margs arrived, we ordered pork carnitas sliders and began drinking.
The pear and blueberry flavors weren't as succinct as we had hoped (perhaps they'd be better with a sugared rim and mashed blueberries?), but the fruity tequila mix took the edge off. The sliders, juicy pulled pork with aioli and crisp veggies, were some of the best we've had at a happy hour anywhere, and the quesadillitas were a perfect cheesy snack to pair with the traditional margaritas that we followed up with. We'd recommend shying away from the tacos al pastor, however, as they pale in comparison to some of our Federal Boulevard favorites. The biggest draw of La Sandia's happy hour? It's daily, starting at 4 p.m., and doesn't stop until the restaurant closes. We'll definitely drink to that.
Overall Grade: B