DI­GEST: Otra Vez opens, Chicken Fight! and more

The Denver Post - - LIFE&CULTURE - By Allyson Reedy, The Den­ver Post Allyson Reedy (areedy@den­ver­post.com) is food writer for The Den­ver Post. On Twit­ter @Allyson BTC and In­sta­gram, AllysonEats Den.

As far as we know, un­til this week there were no spots along the 16th Street Mall serv­ing beach-wor­thy cock­tails out of gi­ant skull glasses. Otra Vez, the Mex­i­can cantina from the Tav­ern Hospi­tal­ity Group, has changed that, open­ing up in the for­mer Mike’s Cam­era space.

“We wanted to start some­thing fun and dif­fer­ent,” Tav­ern Hospi­tal­ity Group owner Frank Schultz told us of the new con­cept. “We wanted a high-en­ergy bar and Mex­i­can food with a twist.”

High en­ergy it is, with a gi­ant, cowhide-fronted bar that al­most bumps up against the Mall and eclec­tic dec­o­ra­tions that in­clude a door made of Mex­i­canstyle leather belts and mu­rals painted by lo­cal artists.

“The dé­cor is a lit­tle Quentin Tarantino-ish, with­out the blood,” Schultz said.

It’s the kind of place where you’ll want to have a fun drink in hand, and they make that re­ally easy with more than 200 tequi­las and 40 mez­cals on deck. The mar­gar­i­tas — es­pe­cially the re­fresh­ing and spicy Pi­cante Pepino with cu­cum­ber and jalapeño — are great choices, but there are also tequila flights for the in­de­ci­sive (and op­ti­mistic).

Then there are the Cocte­les Para el Grupo, (group cock­tails) served in those afore­men­tioned skull glasses. The Be­bida de Cra­neo is a fruity mix of pineap­ple, grape­fruit and straw­ber­ries. Oh, and vodka. Lots of vodka. These are meant to fill up three or four peo­ple, so don’t go try­ing to be a hero.

The food is a mix of gringo fa­vorites — tacos, bur­ri­tos, en­chi­ladas — with some sur­prises thrown in, like chichar­rones na­chos with braised pork belly and chile lime-crusted mahi-mahi. Desserts come with a shot of hor­chata, so you might as well or­der those sopapil­las.

The up­stairs mez­cal lounge is co­zier and darker than the larger down­stairs space, but you’re not at a place like this to get away from it all, are you? No, you’re drink­ing some­thing that’s been set on fire out of a gi­ant skull, that’s what you’re do­ing.

Otra Vez: 610 16th St., Den­ver, 303-266-1567, OtraVezCantina.com, Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.-mid­night, Fri. 11-2 a.m., Sat. 10-2 a.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-mid­night

BBB Eat­ing your greens just got quicker and more con­ve­nient with the open­ing of MAD Greens’ first drive-thru restau­rant in Louisville. That’s right: The Ty Cobb salad can now be yours with­out leav­ing the com­fort of the driver’s seat. Re­joice, healthy/ lazy eaters of the world!

944 W. Dil­lon Road, Louisville, 720-213-0469, MADGreens.com, Mon.-Sun. 10:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m.

BBB We’re pretty sure the folks down at the Blake Street Tav­ern al­ready know how to cel­e­brate, but if you’re in the area, stop in to toast their vic­tory of win­ning the 2017 Na­tional Sports Bar of the Year award. Las Ve­gas-based Night­club & Bar Me­dia Group spon­sored the awards and will be rec­og­niz­ing the Den­ver bar at their an­nual con­ven­tion in Ve­gas March 27-29.

2301 Blake St., Den­ver, 303-675-0505, BlakeStreetTav­ern.com, Mon.-Fri. 11-2 a.m., Sat. 9-2 a.m., Sun. 10-2 a.m.

BBB Chef shake-up at Avelina, which opened late last sum­mer: Chef John Broen­ing and pas­try chef Yas­min Lozada His­som are no longer with the LoDo restau­rant. Wendy Aiello, rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Avelina, told us that chef Bradley Yard has been pro­moted to ex­ec­u­tive chef.

“Yard has been in­stru­men­tal in de­vel­op­ing the menu at Avelina from its launch,” Aiello said in an e-mail. “He is fi­nal­iz­ing the spring menu, which will be in­tro­duced in a few weeks.”

Aiello, who said the restau­rant wishes the de­part­ing duo the best, didn’t elab­o­rate on the break-up.

Avelina: 1550 17th St., Den­ver, 720-904-6711, Aveli­naDen­ver.com, Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri. 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 4-11 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 4-10 p.m.

BBB A Colorado restau­rant and chef have made the cut for The James Beard Foun­da­tion’s fi­nal­ists.

Boul­der’s Frasca Food and Wine is still in the run­ning as one of just six restau­rants in the na­tion left to bat­tle it out for the Out­stand­ing Restau­rant award. Frasca pre­vi­ously won James Beard Awards for Out­stand­ing Wine Ser­vice and Best Chef: South­west (for Chef Lach­lan Mackin­non-Pat­ter­son).

Acorn’s Steve Redzikowski is one of six fi­nal­ists for Best Chef: South­west. Redzikowski has been a semi-fi­nal­ist in the past, but has never made it to the fi­nal round.

“It is truly an honor to be named a (Best Chef: South­west) fi­nal­ist in this year’s James Beard Awards line up,” Redzikowski said via a rep­re­sen­ta­tive. “Cook­ing is some­thing I would do for noth­ing and to be rec­og­nized in this cat­e­gory is a dream come true. I am in­spired ev­ery day by my team, my col­leagues and my friends.”

Win­ners will be an­nounced on May 1.

BBB Sure, you could pre­tend to mull over the pros and cons of eat­ing wings and fried chicken from 40-plus restau­rants in a sin­gle evening, but we all know that you’re go­ing to go, so you might as well get dis­counted tick­ets, right?

Pre-sale tick­ets to Chicken Fight!, which takes place on May 25, will be avail­able at least through Sun­day, so this is your chance to get in on the early bird price of $39 for gen­eral ad­mis­sion.

In ad­di­tion to feast­ing on fowl from restau­rants like Mizuna, The Post, Low Coun­try Kitchen and Bird Call, there will also be a craft cock­tail com­pe­ti­tion and live mu­sic.

Chicken Fight! is pro­duced by the same team that brought us Top Taco, so they know how to give peo­ple co­pi­ous amounts of a sin­gle food. What a tal­ent to have!

Chicken Fight!: May 25, 7:30-10:30 p.m.; tick­ets at tick­et­fly.com, River North Fes­ti­val Grounds, 3715 Chest­nut Place, Den­ver

Pro­vided by LOW Coun­try Kitchen

Low Coun­try Kitchen’s but­ter­milk fried chicken.

Ash­ton Ray Hansen, pro­vided by Otra Vez

Street tacos and a mar­garita from Otra Vez.

Den­ver Post file

Sports fans cel­e­brate at Blake Street Tav­ern in 2012.

Den­ver Post file

Chef Steven Redzikowski in the kitchen of Oak at Four­teenth in May 2015.

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