The first home Paula Contreras chose for her Colombian-Mexican restaurant, La Cocina de Paula, was a night club -- the eatery took up residence in LoDo's Oasis Hookah Bar & Lounge, where it peddled lunch seven days a week before the late night crowd came in.
But at the end of last year, Contreras relocated, leaving the club scene behind.
The new location is at 3325 West Alameda Avenue. "The place is more comfortable," an employee says, with the help of translation from a friend named Antonio. "She found a better place, so she moved."
The airy strip mall spot has been given a vibrant paint job. And while Contreras has ditched the bar scene, she hasn't ditched the bar -- hers comes equipped with a flat screen TV and a full back bar, plus Mexican and Colombian beers and a list of icy, fruity licuados.
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The original menu, has, for the most part, remained intact. "Everything is the same," says the employee. "We're just serving more specials." That means you can still get Contreras's Colombian tamales and empanadas alongside burritos, tacos and tortas -- and one of our 100 favorite dishes, the sobrebarriga.
The new restaurant does have expanded hours, though -- La Cocina de Paula is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Oasis, in the meantime, hasn't chosen a concept to replace the restaurant, but the hookah lounge and nightclub remain open.