Qdoba has been a Denver staple in the fast-casual scene since it opened more than twenty years ago. If you were here in the mid-1990s, you may recall that the company was once called Z-Tecas — and Zuma before that. Over the years, the name and ownership have shifted, but Qdoba has been more or less stable since it was purchased by Jack in the Box in 2003. Under corporate guidance, Qdoba has grown to nearly 600 locations (both company-owned and franchised) in the U.S. and Canada. And now the Mexican eatery is evolving further, with a new look that the company has been rolling out in various test markets. The latest will open in Lakewood at 12027 West Alameda Parkway on Friday, June 3, with a full bar, breakfast and interior decor that brings Qdoba into the modern era.
Gone are the stylized cactus logo and vaguely Southwestern decor, replaced by a giant Q and a sleeker cantina theme, highlighted with glazed tile, copper, leather, urban elements (like a wall mural from a local street artist), and various textures of wood for added warmth. The flow of the restaurant is still fast-casual, but the typical corral-style railing or low wall that herds customers through the line has been replaced with curved booth seating to divide the space.
Plenty of other seating options have been introduced, including community tables with built-in power outlets and USB plugs, conversation nooks, bar seating and several styles of booths. The bar area features a garage door that opens onto a semi-covered patio with a copper-clad fireplace.
This is the first Qdoba in Colorado with a full liquor license, so the company's new line of margaritas, mules and sangria are available; there are also eight tap handles pouring Colorado brews. Frozen cocktails include a slushy Standard margarita and a sangria made with tempranillo wine, or you can get the Q margarita, a strawberry version, a Mexican Mule or a Bloody Mary on the rocks. Additional bottled and canned beers and wines are also available.
This isn't the first prototype in Colorado — there's another at 3804 East 120th Avenue in Thornton — but it's the first to incorporate all of Qdoba's new design themes and a bar. The company will soon begin retrofitting older locations with the new look, with as many as seventy a year getting facelifts. The newest Denver member of the Qdoba family will be open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., with an 11 p.m. closing on Fridays and Saturdays.