Last August, when global chef and restaurateur Richard Sandoval opened Al Lado, a Latin wine and tapas bar directly adjacent to Zengo, his Latin-inspired food temple in Riverfront Park, he described the sultry wine bar as his "homage to a new generation of Latin winemakers, and the thoughtful cuisine that their evolving culture -- and viticulture -- inspires."
But on October 5, Sandoval will shutter Al Lado and reopen the space in late October as La Biblioteca -- a sultry lounge that trumpets a monumental library of tequilas and a menu that struts Latin American and Asian-inspired dishes.
"La Biblioteca is a fun, relaxed tequila library and lounge modeled after Richard's concept by the same name in New York City," says Kelly Berger, general manager of Zengo and Al Lado. "Concept-wise, it mirrors the New York original, but the Denver space will be more casual and more affordable," she adds.
And definitely tequila-centric. "We'll serve an extensive collection of Richard's hand-chosen tequilas, some of which are aged up to 250 years," says Berger, noting that despite the name, this isn't a library for bookworms looking to increase their reading consumption; rather, it's a library where patrons will have the opportunity to "check out" bottles of the blue agave spirit from a brainy tequila librarian, who will then store your selections, if you wish, in a personal tequila cage for the next time you want to sip it straight, or pour it in a margarita. Regulars will get their own "library card," too, and once you've amassed a formidable number of "check outs," you'll be eligible for exclusive incentives -- a free drink, for example.
La Biblioteca will also serve draft beers, wines and classic cocktails, and the menu, executed by Zengo chef de cuisine Clint Wangsnes, will pump out everything from sushi and wok stir-fries, to ceviche and tacos.
And if that all sounds familiar to Zengo, it's because La Biblioteca is being billed as Zengo's "little brother." The impetus for the change, says Berger, is to "tie the concepts together," although La Biblioteca, notes Berger, will be the more casual of the two concepts. "We want it to be a neighborhood gathering place, where people can just hang out and lounge," says Berger, adding that marble-surfaced tables, antique chairs and leather couches will bedeck the remodeled space. And next spring, a new patio, complete with accordion doors that connect to the inside, will grace the sidewalk.
La Biblioteca, slated for unveiling on October 25, will be open Sunday through Wednesday from 5 to 11 p.m., Thursday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., and on Friday, from 4 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Lunch, says Berger, is on the horizon for next spring.
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If you want to track the renovations -- we'll also post a first look here when the space is complete -- keep an eye on La Biblioteca's Facebook page.