Twelve years on Colfax Avenue, where restaurants measure age in decades, isn't a long time, but Mezcal was beginning to feel like an old favorite after a relatively short time. But certain parts of Mezcal, namely the kitchen, were starting to feel just plain old to owners Chris Swank and Loris Venegas, so they shut the place down at the end of spring and did a complete kitchen rebuild. Also new in Mezcal's kitchen is an old friend of the owners, chef Chris Douglas, who's updating the menu with a few spruced-up touches of his own. Mezcal reopens tonight (with a completely booked reservation list) and will throw its grand opening on Monday, August 31.
The dining room and bar got a touch of a facelift, too, but not enough to throw off the regulars. The bar is a bit bigger, there's some new paint and wallpaper, and the back grotto now features cozy, padded booths. But the downscale cantina charm and brightly colored Mexican kitsch is still there, along with many menu favorites.
Douglas is enhancing the roster of Mexican plates by sourcing meats from local ranchers and adding more distinctive fare than just tacos and burritos. Denver diners are more savvy than they were when Mezcal first opened, so words like huaraches, pupusas and posole won't throw them, while more familiar dishes like tamales get a chef's touch.
While service is already booked for tonight, you'll be able to experience the new Mezcal nightly from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. after Monday's grand opening. Keep reading for more photos from Danielle Lirette.