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Marvelous Mexican Fine Dining

Owner Rene Cervantes Jr. (photo by Lori DeBoer)

Red Agave Tequileria Cantina and Calaca Bar Rebrands

BY BECCA BLOND

Rene Cervantes Jr. has been working in the family restaurant business since he was
7 years old when his parents started their first restaurant, La Mariposa Mexican
Restaurant, in Longmont more than 30 years ago.

Now Cervantes is celebrating the rebranding of his own restaurant, Red Agave Tequileria Cantina and Calaca Bar, in Boulder. Opened as Agave in 2010, the rebrand—which is being celebrated on Sept. 16 to coincide with Mexican Independence Day—celebrates its high profile in the Mexican fine dining scene.

Camarones al Guajillo (photo by Lori DeBoer)

“It’s high energy, fun and energetic,” Cervantes says of the relaunch, which will include a Latin dance party. “We’re turning it up a little bit, but still offering casual fine dining.” Red Agave will also focus on its main course selection and different sauces that are started daily at 6 a.m., use no fillers and are made with all-natural and organic products. The menu is a mix of traditional Mexican and upscale cuisine, taking care to preserve each dish’s original and authentic regional taste.

Tasting Tradition

“There is a huge difference between Colorado-Mexican and Traditional Mexican. We are as Mexican as it gets, like what you would eat back on the ranch in Mexico. In Colorado the green chile is more like a gravy, and that’s a big difference between Mexican pork green chile, which is poblano and Anaheim peppers sautéed with a little bit of pork, and it’s more of a dryer substance,” says Cervantes, whose parents hail from Mexico.

“Crispy chile rellenos don’t exist in Mexico. Our chile rellenos are an egg souffle with poblano pepper and Mexican cheese,” he adds.

Red Agave is also known for its mole sauce, which is not easy to make. It is flavor intensive and takes a long time to prepare. Other menu favorites include the seafood items, especially the salmon Veracruzano.

Rajas con Queso (photo by Lori DeBoer)

In addition to the regular menu, the rebrand will include a rotating menu focusing on the foods from various regions of Mexico, the first being the region of Guadalajara. The new upstairs section, dubbed the Calaca Bar, focuses on food and drinks from Oaxaca.

The decor is inspired by the Mexican “Día de los Muertos” (Day of the Dead) and the room is done up with skulls and colorful artwork throughout. It does an excellent happy hour, live music at night and lots of tequila drinks, including many starring the liquor du jour: mescal. Mescal is from Oaxaca primarily, which makes it fit perfectly upstairs at Red Agave. The first spirit distilled from an agave plant, mescal is known for its variations from bottle to bottle and its smoky, almost bourbon-like taste.

“It’s a really hot trend, it’s growing really big right now all over the United States, and we just want to capitalize on that to create some really nice mescal cocktails and tie it into that Day of the Dead theme,” says Cervantes.

Red Agave Tequileria Cantina and Calaca Bar (303-444-2922) is located at 2845 28th St.,
Boulder, CO 80301. Call or check www.agavecolorado.com website, as hours vary.

Chef Luis Monreal (photo by Lori DeBoer)

Cocktails are another focus at Red Agave, which is expanding the typical margarita menu to create craft tequila cocktails like those served at the Calaca Bar.

“We are muddling together different ingredients, from jicama to cucumber to chile liquor to become more of a cocktail versus just a margarita,” Cervantes says. Red Agave offers more than 300 different types of tequila, including its mescal collection, with shots ranging between $9 and $350. When asked what to order for a special occasion, Cervantes recommends Partida Elegante. It’s been rated the last three years as the number-one tequila in the world,” he says. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful spirit.”

Whether you decide on a tequila cocktail, margarita (yes they still make excellent takes on the classic) or a sipping tequila, you can be sure the staff is well versed in what they are serving and can answer specific questions regarding the food and beverages. Tequila-tasting events and workshops are also offered throughout the year at Red Agave.

“So that’s what we are doing, creating something fresh when it comes to the whole experience overall,” says Cervantes. “We’re putting all our love and passion and 30 years of experience to work.