What better way to follow up on the runaway success of Larimer Street favorite Work & Class than to double down on the same block with more great food from the same team? That's exactly what business partners Tony Maciag and chef Dana Rodriguez intend to do when they open a new pan-Latin American restaurant inside an upcoming boutique hotel that recently broke ground at 1280 25th Street.
While an opening is at least a year in the future, Maciag, Rodriguez and new partner Tabatha Knop (who is currently a manager at Work & Class) have already picked a name and theme for their concept. The restaurant will be called Super Mega Bien — named for the Spanglish phrase often called out by one of Rodriguez's line cooks whenever anyone asks how he's doing. And the food will cover a range of dishes from Latin America: "Puerto Rico, Colombia, Mexico — things that people always crave," Rodriguez explains. "We'll have the best arepas from Venezuela, the best ropa vieja from Cuba."
"Our Mexican dishes will be specialties from Yucatán and other regions," Maciag adds. "We want to make sure that people don't perceive us as another taco place."
Super Mega Bien will be located inside the Ramble Hotel, which will also have a main bar from New York City's groundbreaking Death & Company, one of the advance guard of the modern craft-cocktail era. Death & Company will also operate a reservations-only bar on the fifty-room hotel's mezzanine level, according to DenverInfill.com.
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The Ramble is a project of the Gravitas Development Group, which also built the shipping-container structure at 2500 Larimer Street that Work & Class calls home. Maciag notes that the hotel (designed by Johnson Nathan Strohe) will have a brick, steel and glass facade that will fit in with the early-twentieth-century industrial style of many nearby buildings. Owing to the more upscale architecture, Super Mega Bien will have a bit more elegant ambience than the raucous close quarters of Work & Class, though it will be only slightly larger.
Work & Class opened in early 2014 and was one of our ten best restaurants of that year, earning respect for its soulful menu of Southern and Mexican dishes, including top-notch cochinita pibil, fried chicken and slow-roasted lamb. Rodriguez has steadily gained a reputation as one of the best chefs in Denver since beginning her career under Jennifer Jasinski at Panzano, staying with the chef when she opened Rioja and eventually becoming executive chef at Bistro Vendôme before opening Work & Class with Maciag and third partner Delores Tronco (who left the team earlier this fall). Maciag spent time running the front of the house at Rioja as well.
Rodriguez also consulted on the opening of Que Bueno Suerte, which officially opened December 11 at 1518 South Pearl Street with Vicente Sosa as executive chef; he's another Jasinski and Work & Class alum. While the Super Mega Bien team will not have Sosa's skills in the kitchen, Maciag and Rodriguez have a history of hiring and retaining talent in both the front and back of the house — a good formula for creating another big hit for the team.