Cantina Loca at Espadín LoHi is now open!
The Espadín just got a little more loca. That’s right – the highly anticipated Cantina Loca is open and ready to rock your boca with its authentic Mexico City street food, mezcal, and tequila.
Putting the loca in local, chef Dana Rodriguez hit the Denver food scene in 1998 after moving from Chihauhua, Mexico. A career fueled by passion and dedication, Rodriguez started as a dishwasher for a restaurant on Larimer Street and worked her way up to the James Beard-nominated chef the city knows and loves today.
There are layers to the triumph of Cantina Loca’s opening.
A follow up to the wildly popular Work and Class and Super Mega Bien, this is Rodriguez’s first solo project.
It also will serve as the perfect place to showcase her tequila and mezcal brand, Doña Loca. Inventive spirits and cocktails from expert bartenders are a promise.
Then there comes the layer of triumph of the restaurant opening in the Covid era. In the height of the pandemic, Rodriguez went on record to detail the heartache and anguish restaurant owners and employees were experiencing.
To be hit as hard as her industry was and to rise up and refuse defeat is perhaps the most exhilarating message this opening can send.
We are confident that Cantina Loca will enhance the already sparkling reputation of Dana Rodriguez and the Denver food scene, and we cannot wait for you to experience the one, the only, the loca.
Experience Cantina Loca as a guest of Espadín LoHi and receive 10% food and beverage. Interested? View all of our luxury vacation rental hotel lofts and book your next stay!
Raetta Holdman, CBS Denver. “Who is Dana Rodriguez, The Chef who Aims to Elevate The Food at Casa Bonita?” December 6, 2021. https://denver.cbslocal.com/2021/12/06/dana-rodriguez-casa-bonita-chef-lakewood/
Alan Gionet, CBS Denver. “‘Inside, We’re Dying’: Denver Restaurant Owner Battles COVID & Mental Anguish” December 19, 2021. https://denver.cbslocal.com/2020/12/19/inside-were-dying-denver-restaurant-owners-battle-covid-mental-anguish/
Just north of downtown, you will find Denver’s most distinctive neighborhood—RiNo. Also known as the River North Arts District, this community is packed with galleries, shops, studios, and boundless murals. Immerse yourself in a dense pocket of Denver culture filled with delectable food and beverage spots!
Here’s our top 5 list:
1. Improper City – Food trucks, local music, craft drinks, and a MASSIVE patio. They also open at 7am on weekdays for you folks that ‘work remote.’
2. First Draft – A craft beer lover’s dream. 40 taps of beer, wine, and cider with no lines! Pour your own and leave the crowded bar scene in the past.
3. Death & Company – Perfect spot to get unique, handcrafted cocktails and small bites before or after hitting the town.
4. Finn’s Manor – Open back patio with rotating food trucks outside, cozy bar with 400 whiskeys inside. Need we say more?
5. Fish N Beer – Do you have hesitations about seafood in this coastally-challenged city? If so, Fish N Beer will squash them. Always delicious, always fresh.
Photo Credit: Black Eye Coffee (https://www.drinkblackeye.com/)
Black Eye Coffee
3408 Navajo St, Denver, CO 80211
District 2 (Highlands)
Owner: Michelle Ackerman
Year opened: 2012
Number of employees: 9
About Black Eye Coffee
Like the iconic North Denver neighborhood that we call home, this place has a rich and robust history filled with plenty of heart, grit and good old-fashioned character. Long before it was a coffee house, this building was known for a different kind of brew—Coors beer, to be exact.
Mile High Hosts surveyed over 300 Denver guests in the fall of 2019 and what was discovered was a not-so-surprising trend; guests of short-term rentals spend a lot of time and money at local neighborhood businesses. One type of business was repeatedly called out and that was coffee shops.
We asked Michelle Ackerman, the owner of Black Eye Coffee, a few short questions to find out more about this observed trend.
How important is the business that the guests of short-term rentals bring to your business?
It’s significant. I know this because I get reports from the Google Analytics Tool for how many people are searching for us and from where they are searching. For example, I can see people are searching from Kansas City and they are searching for directions to the coffee shop. The number of people I can see conducting searches like this is significant. Locals obviously know where we are.
There are so many changes happening for local businesses. The city of Denver recently raised the minimum wage, and in addition, my rent goes up significantly each year. With these two challenges being my reality, losing short-term rental clientele business would make it extremely challenging for me to stay in business.
What do you believe short-tern rentals bring to small businesses?
What makes Denver a destination for all tourism is the number of great things we have to offer travelers. Short-term rentals play directly into that equation, delivering a repeatable source of new money to small businesses and neighborhoods. People enjoy visiting the local spots, the things people don’t have back home and without us, I think Denver becomes less of an attractive destination. Restricting guests from staying in short-term rentals impacts our Denver eco-system, small and large businesses alike.
There may be people that live in the neighborhood that may feel differently about STRs. What would you say to those that aren’t completely on board with home-sharing in their neighborhood?
There could be solutions that are a win-win. I don’t know what policies are being considered for the future but I think there should be more collaboration to find a solution that works for all. Maybe we all don’t get all that we want, but we can get a portion of it. I read a lot about the good neighbor policies that help eliminate the challenges that neighbors have are a great solution to help everyone see the benefit of short-term rentals.
We’re not even three months into 2018 yet, and already there are plenty of new restaurants and bars adding to Denver’s thriving culinary scene. Need a new date spot that goes beyond your regular fare? Looking for a great location for a birthday dinner or work event? Try one of the new places featured below—before everyone else in the city catches on.
3258 Larimer St. – https://www.facebook.com/JulepRestaurantDenver/
You’ll come for the awesome patio and stay for the delicious Southern-inspired food. Located right off of Larimer Street in bustling RiNo, it’s easy to see why Julep’s popular. Owners (and husband and wife) Kyle and Katy Foster offer a full lunch and dinner menu inspired by their childhoods in the South. There’s also a full bar, because nothing tops off the Juniper & Rosemary Rubbed Lamb like an Old Fashioned.
Zephyr Brewing Company
1609 E 58th Ave. Unit G – https://www.zephyrbrewingco.com/
Open only four days of the week, Zephyr is proving to be one of the most exclusive places to drink in Denver—with none of the attitude. As laid-back as they are knowledgeable, the staff at Zephyr are truly beer connoisseurs. Their new location in North Denver is sure to be just as big of a hit as the previous one in RiNo. The taproom has foosball and other games, the perfect accompaniment for the Blood Orange Pale Ale or Kiltin’ Me Softly Scottish Ale.
3501 Wazee St. – https://zeppelinstation.com/
Where else can you find bibimbap, indian street food, poke, and homemade gelato all under one roof? That would be at Zeppelin Station, a brand-new food hall right off the light rail station at 38th & Blake, that serves up these and many other cuisines. Also home to live music and two bars, there’s something for everyone here. Don’t miss a banh mi sandwich at Vinh Xuong Bakery with the Voodoo donut gelato sandwich at Gelato Boy for dessert.
Haykin Family Cider
12001 E 33rd Ave. Unit D – https://www.haykinfamilycider.com/
Serving up sweet bubbles made from Colorado apples, Haykin Family Cider is a treat for locals and visitors alike. All of their ciders are made small-batch and are free of additives and processed sugars. Haykin is open only on Thursday and Saturday evenings, so get there early! Be sure to try the Winter Banana or Rome Beauty, and stay for a chat with co-owners Daniel and Talia Haykin.
The Way Back
3963 Tennyson St. – https://thewaybackdenver.com/
Recently relocated to lively Tennyson Street in the Berkeley area, The Way Back is back in business—good news for the devoted followers who have been eagerly anticipating its reopening. The eclectic American menu changes weekly and focuses on sustainably sourced local ingredients. For something different, check out the Squid Ink Fettucine or Charred Bison Heart, and end the evening on the patio with a Elyx Moscow Mule.
Denver Eater (photgrapher: Sara Schiffer):