Uno mas. The Spanish verbiage translates to "one more," and for Patrick Mangold-White, that's "one more tequila, one more taco, one more for the neighborhood and one more 'What the hell are you thinking?'"
Years ago, when I first met Mangold-White, who also owns Kaos Pizzeria (he co-owns Gaia Bistro, too, with partner Jon Edwards), he swore that he'd eventually open a taqueria in the Platt Park 'hood, where he also lives, and on June 23, he'll do just that, unleashing Uno Mas Taqueria Y' Cantina, a taco joint and salsa bar that's taking up residence in the former Budapest Bistro space at 1585 South Pearl Street.
See also: - Budapest Bistro closes on South Pearl to make way for a Mexican restaurant - Kaos Pizzeria excels in the Neapolitan style - Izakaya Den will leave its original home Sunday night, then reopen in new space
"When we opened Gaia, we discussed opening a taqueria, and then when we opened Kaos, we talked about it again, and when the owner of Budapest Bistro came to me and said she was selling it, I knew it was the right space and the right time," says Mangold-White, who tapped his opening chef at Gaia, Drew Middleton, to spearhead the kitchen. "His Mexican grandmother taught him how to cook, and he's going to kill it," he promises.
To that end, Middleton's menu will trot a feast of street tacos (think lamb barbacoa, rabbit, carne asada, carnitas, lengua and pastor), tortas and taquitos complemented by ceviche, Mexican soups and a full-throttled salsa bar that pimps seven variations, including habanero, tomatillo, guajillo and a corn salsa with Serrano chilies, cilantro and zucchini.
Mangold-White initially wanted to install subterranean pits to smoke his meats, but the city wasn't keen on the idea, so instead, Middleton will slow-braise, slow-smoke and slow-cook his meats in banana or agave leaves in huge outdoor smokers perfumed with oak and pecan woods. "We really wanted to do pit cooking -- we wanted to emulate what they do in Baja -- but that didn't fly with the city, so we're dong the next best thing by using these amazing reverse smokers and wrapping the meats, which adds a lot of extra moisture and reverse-smoked flavor profiles," explains Mangold-White, adding that Middleton will embrace "whole animal production" and source his meats from local farms and ranchers and his produce from nearby plots, including the garden at Gaia, woman who grows microgreens and heirloom vegeables and their own local farm; his seafood will all be sourced from the Sea of Cortez, or the Gulf, and the menu, as well as the salsas, will change with the seasons. "You won't find any Shamrock or Sysco products here -- or at any of our restaurants," he insists.
And the commitment to quality, he notes, will also extend to the bar program. "We'll have some Mexican beers, obviously, but the tequilas and mescals will be small batch, and Denver Beer Company is making a beer just for us -- a hibiscus agave wheat beer pastor that we're calling Al's," he says.
The space, currently under construction, will include a new, ten-seat bar, a Mexican village color palette and new tables. "We're doing minimal changes to the interior, but the bar will be a big bonus, and we're also adding a great patio behind the restaurant," reveals Mangold-White. "There's already so much buzz -- it's crazy -- and we're really excited for three gringos to open a great taqueria on the block."
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Uno Mas will serve lunch and dinner Wednesday through Monday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.