“What is the one menu item that you crave on your way into the kitchen?” I asked Chef TJ Curry of Downtown’s, Mood Tapas. Without hesitation, his response was, “the duck confit crepe. It is a reimagined version of a classic dish from my time as a chef at The Broadmoor’s own, Summit Restaurant. I could eat 10 of them in one sitting,” he concluded. As TJ and I delved into the history of his career in food and the building of his expertise in preparing flavors that are elevated and approachable, I couldn’t help but notice his kind inflections toward what’s being created and the love of where his inspirations have been drawn from. When someone is passionate about what they do and as intentional as he is, it leaves me looking forward to the next opportunity that I’ll have to enjoy the flavors developed from intentionality and the follow through in their craft.
Mood Tapas was opened nearly a year ago by, Crystal Byrd and Mike Thompson, with TJ as their Sous chef. Now he’s the executive chef and the menu has been modernized a bit. The restaurant sits pretty, across from Acacia Park on N. Tejon Street, with large windows and plenty of seats at the bar for enjoying the view outside or a seat at one of their tables while simultaneously enjoying friends. Prior to COVID19’s influence, the menu was largely shaped around the premiss of a Mediterranean meal including proper tapas. Curry says, “while the pauses of Covid have created their own hardships it has allowed us an opportunity to take a step back and re-evaluate what we’re serving.” And after that pause, Mood Tapas has ended up with tastes from around the world, created well and with Colorado Springs in mind. With seafood sourced just one day out of the water, and portions that aren’t always just bite-sized but large enough to be shared, they’re doing a thing. It’s fresh and flavorful and well, it’s a vibe. When the new kid on the block shows up and is ready to serve the food we’ve been traveling elsewhere for, it can give locals a fresh sense of pride paired with anticipation for our next date night or a first date, a meeting, a night out with friends, happy hour, or just a quiet pause for ourselves over vibrant flavors- this feels good, exciting even.
If there is one thing we can be sure of in Colorado Springs’ Downtown, it’s that over the past several years the food scene is showing up! It’s being revitalized, refreshed, thoughtfully curated, and levels up in just the right ways. Mood Tapas is adding value to Tejon St., to the culture of our Downtown, and the quality of our dining experiences so close to home.
Curry wanted to prepare something that wasn’t already being done in this central area of town; a culmination of fine dining, flavorful vegetables as well as proteins, the presentation of tapas but larger and more shareable, so much flavor, a fresh-to-death mood. To add further detail to a restaurant that complements what’s already being done while also continuing to push the efforts of a growing standard overall and I love it. In the spirit of supporting local business, eating well and enjoying the most odd year, let’s make a reservation and safely enjoy Mood Tapas soon. xx-k