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Traditional Flavors in a Modern Setting

Teocalli Cocina

Article by Lila Ruppe

Photography by Sean McNeil, Aspen Art Co

Originally published in Arvada Lifestyle

Authenticity is everything to the staff of Teocalli Cocina, a Mexican restaurant with modern flair. “We offer culture, delicious food, and the laid back atmosphere in which everyone is welcome,” General Manager Jackie Ross says.

Originally founded in Lafayette, the Arvada location opened its doors in February. Upon entering Teocalli Cocina, everything from the décor to the smell of the food tempts you to stay forever. Real plants adorn the restaurant while warm lighting adds to the inviting feel. Teocalli Cocina’s head chef, Julio Gaspar, says, “You don't want to leave as soon as you walk in.”

Much of Teocalli Cocina’s authenticity comes from the experiences of Chef Julio. Raised in Oaxaca, Mexico, Chef Julio was first introduced to cooking by working in his mother’s restaurant by the beach.

After leaving Mexico, Chef Julio worked at a variety of first-rate restaurants in the United States, from New York to the Malibu Pier in California. He attended culinary school for a short stint while in New York.

Chef Julio’s professional culinary experiences mesh with his background at his family’s restaurant to inspire his cooking at Teocalli Cocina. “I've been working with really good chefs my whole career. It’s a mix with everything, what I learned and what I knew already,” he says.

Chef Julio makes an incredible, traditional mole at Teocalli Cocina. “People have told us it's the best mole they've ever had,” Jackie says. It’s just the right amount of sweet, spicy, and smoky.

“It’s like we made it in Oaxaca. It’s a mole my mom used to make,” Chef Julio says. He uses chiles directly from Oaxaca that his brothers ship to him each month.

The Arvada menu offers a vast selection of tacos, starters, enchiladas, and more. Start your meal with queso fundido, or a pick-your-own salsa trio. For the main course, the carne asada tacos are a popular choice; they are packed with flavor and topped with hoja santa chimichurri, cheese crust, and smoked onion.

For dessert, choose from churros, brûléed banana split, or a Mexican chocolate panna cotta topped with spicy pecans and palanqueta, a Mexican peanut candy. For those on specialty diets, Teocalli Cocina makes sure to mark the dishes on the menu with symbols for vegetarian, vegan, and any vegan options.

Teocalli Cocina crafts praiseworthy cocktails in addition to the authentic food. One of the most popular is called El Jefe, a blood orange mezcal cocktail. Mezcal is an agave-based liquor native to Mexico, and El Jefe is a fantastic introduction to it. It’s a smoky, refreshing cocktail that won first and second place in Top Taco 2021 and 2022, respectively.

The restaurant also offers a vast selection of tequila, beer, and wine; the most difficult part of visiting Teocalli Cocina may be deciding which choice on the drink menu sounds the most delicious.

Teocalli Cocina is the perfect spot for date nights, family dinners, and everything between. Jackie finds that many people from Mexico will visit Teocalli Cocina for the authentic cuisine. “It reminds them of being at home,” she says.

For delicious food and relaxed ambience, visit Teocalli Cocina at 5770 Olde Wadsworth Boulevard in Arvada. Pop by from 3-5 PM to enjoy happy hour and sip a margarita while you wait for your award-winning tacos.



 

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