Troy Guard expands TAG|RAW BAR, unveils the new TAG Underground and reveals plans to open a taqueria

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Troy Guard, the chef/owner of TAG, TAG|RAW BAR and Madison Street, is, like hundreds of other chefs, in the throes of Restaurant Half Month, and he had hoped to complete an expansion of the diminutive TAG|RAW BAR before last Saturday night, when the two-week feeding frenzy kicked off. But while the maturation of TAG|RAW BAR is complete, there's no one sitting in the new quarters, a cozy space, flanked by exposed brick, white chairs, dark woods and patterned chocolate banquettes.

"We tried to push it, but we couldn't get the right licenses before Denver Restaurant Week started," says Guard, who expanded TAG RAW by 34 seats and 500 square feet, which requires a modification of its liquor license. The hearing was on January 24, and pending any unforeseen obstacles, Guard plans to start seating in that space on March 15.

But he's already making the most of the revamped downstairs territory at TAG, which is now TAG Underground. "We're going to be turning three in May, and we wanted to refresh a few things and breathe some new life into the downstairs space -- and make it more of a restaurant than a lounge," explains Guard, who bedecked the quarters with shimmery crescent-shaped booths hued sunset orange and espresso, along with regal, buttoned chairs and tables that were constructed from recycled wall frames. The result is a sexy, moody sanctuary that, says Guard, will take on a life of its own.

"I have some really cool things planned for down here," says Guard, including an entirely different menu from TAG. "Now that we've redone the space, it's really two restaurants in one, and while I'm still thinking about it, I'd love to do one menu for TAG and a whole separate one for TAG Underground that reflects the cool vibe we've created." In addition, Guard is also toying with the idea of hosting intimate dinners, limited to thirty or forty guests, all of whom are regulars or subscribe to TAG's newsletter. "The plan is to utilize this space at all times, and on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, I'd like to do some great, crazy-fun dinners for a small group of guests who want to experience something different."

And speaking of different -- at least for Guard, whose food focus leans toward Asia and the Pacific Rim -- the chef is working on a new restaurant concept, namely a taqueria (or two), which, he says, will be "fun, hip-ghetto joints with amazing food." He's inked a deal on a downtown location, which will open sometime this summer, and he's searching for a second space in Boulder. "It's going to be killer," he promises.

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