Food News

Comal Heritage Incubator Celebrates One Year in Business

Comal Heritage Food Incubator now has an actual Comal.
Comal Heritage Food Incubator now has an actual Comal. Mark Antonation
When Comal Heritage Food Incubator launched a year ago at 3455 Ringsby Court in the TAXI development, it was more than just a restaurant. Comal is part of Focus Points, a community outreach organization that helps low-income families with education, employment and health initiatives in the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods. But Comal also serves great food, and it proved it at a first anniversary celebration on October 17.

Comal's patio space is as large as the dining room itself, so chef Tim Bender and his staff, consisting primarily of recent immigrants and refugees from the surrounding neighborhoods who want to learn catering and restaurant-management skills, take advantage by cooking outdoors when weather permits. A large concrete planter has been converted into a fire pit, and Bender recently added a steel comal so that fresh tortillas and other Latin American foods can be cooked on its searing-hot surface. There's also a wood-fired oven for baking (don't miss the pita bread on Fridays) and a smaller fire pit for grilling meats.

click to enlarge Chicken kabobs cook over hardwood coals on Comal's patio. - MARK ANTONATION
Chicken kabobs cook over hardwood coals on Comal's patio.
Mark Antonation
Slavika Park, who runs the workforce-development side of Comal, says that the educational aspect of the restaurant has evolved over the past year. In addition to Latin American cooks, the kitchen also has Syrian and Iraqi trainees; Comal serves their food on Fridays. While the majority of participants have been women, a few men have also been through the program, which now also helps cooks develop skills to help them land jobs at nearby restaurants like Acorn and Comida. Several of the trainees who have completed the program now have business licenses for catering or operating their own food trucks, and many others have found restaurant jobs.

Last night's party showcased dishes from several of the program's success stories, including posole, Salvadoran pastries, tacos made with fresh tortillas, carne adobada, chile verde, chicken kabobs, hummus and saffron rice.


click to enlarge Iraqi and Syrian dishes at Comal. - MARK ANTONATION
Iraqi and Syrian dishes at Comal.
Mark Antonation
click to enlarge These pastries are called quesadillas, but are made primarily with rice flour, eggs, sugar and cheese. - MARK ANTONATION
These pastries are called quesadillas, but are made primarily with rice flour, eggs, sugar and cheese.
Mark Antonation
click to enlarge Pita, hummus and yogurt sauce. - MARK ANTONATION
Pita, hummus and yogurt sauce.
Mark Antonation
click to enlarge You can taste food like this on Fridays at Comal. - MARK ANTONATION
You can taste food like this on Fridays at Comal.
Mark Antonation
click to enlarge Ingredients used at Comal. - MARK ANTONATION
Ingredients used at Comal.
Mark Antonation
click to enlarge Tarasca is one of the businesses opened by a graduate of Comal's training program. - MARK ANTONATION
Tarasca is one of the businesses opened by a graduate of Comal's training program.
Mark Antonation
Comal is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, with Latin American cuisine served the first four days of the week, and Syrian and other Middle Eastern dishes served on Fridays.

For more information, call 303-292-0770 or go to Comal's Facebook page.

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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation