First Look

First Look: Illegal Pete's Comes to Colfax Avenue

Illegal Pete's took over an abandoned former IHOP at 2001 East Colfax Avenue two years ago and converted it into a towering cathedral of Colorado-style, fast-casual Mexican. The eighth Colorado Illegal Pete's — and the ninth overall, including a new Tuscon, Arizona, outpost — opens to the public tomorrow morning (May 13) at 7 a.m.

Mama's Cafe was the last occupant of the address, and Illegal Pete's founder Pete Turner has preserved much of the sign out front as well as the original IHOP A-frame architecture. But the roof is clad in new sheet metal, and there's a second A-frame perpendicular to the main building that serves as the entryway and open framework above much of the spacious patio.

The interior has been expanded to 3,500 square feet,  and the design, by Xan Creative, includes a new mezzanine suspended between the main dining room and the vaulted wooden ceilings, which were exposed after decades of being hidden by drop-panel ceilings. New windows and skylights were added to bring in the Colorado sun, and a new commissary kitchen was built in the back so that Denver locations of the burrito chain will no longer need to rely on the Boulder location for food prep.

Other features include an indoor-outdoor bar, more than twenty beers on tap and a custom-made tap handle from Pabst Blue Ribbon — a one-of-a-kind that's kind of creepy. Otherwise, expect the same beloved menu of overstuffed burritos, tacos, quesadillas and cocktails.

Illegal Pete's opens tomorrow at 7 a.m. for breakfast and will host a number of celebratory events all weekend. For more photos, see our complete slideshow.

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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