Tag Archives: renovated Tamayo

Tamayo Unveils Makeover

Downtown Denver restaurant’s swank new style + a tweaked modern Mexican menu

P1010714Tamayo, downtown Denver’s original “modern Mexican” restaurant and the city’s first from Richard Sandoval, closed for a million-dollar makeover and recently emerged from its month-long chrysalis state with a vibrant, contemporary look. The layout remains largely unchanged — bar on the left, long row of window tables on the right overlooking 14th Street, tables snugged up against the divider between the bar and dining area, more tables in the back and a rooftop (partially tented for all-weather use) with killer mountain views.

Shelves of tequila bottles in front of the Rufino Tamayo tile mural
Shelves of tequila bottles in front of the Rufino Tamayo tile mural.

Remaining is the mural (above) on the “bar wall” by tile artist Rufino Tamayo, after whom Sandoval named the restaurant, but it is partially obscured by a display of scores of tequila bottles from the big list. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but Semple Brown, the renowned design firm, didn’t consult with me. I just hope they didn’t drill into the tile in case they change their minds during a future redo.

Richard Sandoval Restaurants is understandably so proud of the redo – from a blond/beige/white tablecloth palette to a medley of rich dark woods, muted orange banquettes, heavy carved chairs pulled up to bare tables on the 14th Street and stellar light fixtures — that they have invited folks for a look and a taste. On Thursday evening, a mostly downtown crowd (mostly hospitality people, I think) was invited to an upstairs cocktail event showcasing its seven fabulous margaritas and a selection of appetizer/small plate dishes, some new and from the earlier menu. I only got brief glances of the new dining area while passing through  — enough to be impressed by the new look.

Of the available margaritas, the Tamayo marg (tequila blanco and tamarind in a glass whose rim was dipped into a salt/chile pequin mixture) was so good that I never tried one of the others. Servers came around with Chinese soup spoons cradling mahi mahi ceviche, and the other items were put out in serve-yourself steam trays.

Outstanding mahi ceviche -- fresh fish from Hawaiian waters prepared in an inspired Latin American style.
Outstanding mahi ceviche — fresh fish from Hawaiian waters prepared in an inspired Latin American style.
Squash blossom quesadillas -- each one a corn masa turnover encasing sqash blossoms, pobalano chile, cihuahua cheese, corn and tree chile salsa.
Squash blossom quesadillas — each one a corn masa turnover with squash blossoms, poblano chile, soft white chihuahua cheese, corn and three-chile salsa.
Rock shrimp quesadilla in a flour tortilla with
Rock shrimp quesadilla in a flour tortilla with smoked bacon, tomatillo-chipotle salsa and a taste of avocado.
Condiments set out for the taco selections (tacos al pastor, chicken tinga and smoked brisket) set out in quickly emptired and therefore instantly unphotogenic steam trays
Condiments set out for the taco selections (tacos al pastor, chicken tinga and smoked brisket) set out in quickly emptied and therefore instantly unphotogenic steam trays

Hee’s my photo resolution: Unless I’m in a very formal restaurant, I am going to stop being considerate of my fellow diners and start using a flash. This time, like on so many other occasions, the images are two dark and not always sharp. No more Ms. Nice Girl!

Price check: At dinner, guacamole (now four kinds), $10-$16; other starters, $9-$13; soups and salads, $9-$11; tacos, three for $13-$16 + $4 for rice and black beans; enchiladas, $19-$24; entrées, $19-$24; desserts, $9.

Note: The Urbanspoon reviews and evaluations linked to from the box below reflect diners’ pre-makeover experiences.

Tamayo on Urbanspoon