It has been a while since Red Rocks-goers have enjoyed a serious update in their dining options for a pre-show meal. Many of the places in Morrison have been there for ages, some catering more to locals than the festive interlopers who some residents view as antagonistic to their peaceful way of life. On August 8, the Origin Hotel opened near the intersection of I-70 and CO-93. The 124-room accommodations debuted as the official hotel of the acclaimed music venue.

The space is decorated with concert posters, and hotel-residents have access to a $15 shuttle to transport them to and from shows. On Thursday, September 6 the hotel restaurant, dubbed Nomad Taqueria and Beer Garden opened to the public. The place offers quality southwestern and Mexican fare in an open and well-decorated environment, offering a bright and crisp alternative to the well-worn options down the road.

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Long-time Denver resident Christopher Medved will helm the kitchen. Having developed his chops at Watercourse Foods, City O’ City, Steuben’s and Tony’s Meat Market, Medved was the opening executive Sous at fellow Secret Sauce concept Ace Eat Serve. His resume is solid, and his deep roots in Colorado make him appropriate for developing the new menu, which draws inspiration from the surrounding environment. Medved says much of the offerings were inspired by his extensive travels through Mexico. “I have a lot of great memories of Mexico and most of those are food related,” said the chef. The list is broken down into small plates, tamales, tacos, soups and salads, sandwiches and large plates. Most everything is reasonably priced, with only a few of the large plates tipping over the $20 mark. In addition to dinner, the restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch, happy hour, a selection of grab-and-go items and late-night bites.

The esquites ($8) is charred corn, lime crema, cotija cheese, cilantro, pickled red onion and chili powder — all served up in a glass. The timeless appetizer is properly balanced, the charred corn and the chili powder providing just enough kick to get the meal started. The tlayuda ($12) — often compared to a Mexican pizza — is a lightly fried tortilla slathered in borracho beans, a choice of meat, avocado, pickled red onion, queso Oaxaca, roasted tomatillo salsa and lime crema. Nomad’s variation clearly establishes its distance from a pizza, its thin crust making it almost impossible to eat without a fork and knife.

The roasted vegetable enchiladas ($15) is three tortillas filled with summer squash, spinach, black beans, heirloom cherry tomato, charred corn, grilled spring onion and cheese. The dish is then smothered in red enchilada sauce and served with a plentiful helping of beans and rice. This dish channels Medved’s time at Watercourse and City O’ City more than most of the menu, illustrating the chef’s ability to create flavorful dishes from vegetables alone.

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Drink-wise the cocktail list is short and sweet. Where the menu really shines is 22-item tap-list. The selections are all from Colorado, with Denver classics like Ratio, Trve and Renegade being joined Buena Vista’s Eddyline and Durango’s Ska Brewing. The list’s capstone is the exclusive collaboration with New Terrain Brewing, the Nomad Key Lime Kolsch. The refreshing beverage is a solid porch-pounder, the key limes adding a hint of sweetness and citrus without overpowering the flavor. The house margarita ($6) is Sauza blue tequila, triple sec, lime-juice and sour mix. Despite the traditional list of ingredients, the marg succeeds in downplaying the sugar — an easy mistake to make in the agave world.

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The massive space features a 7,000 square foot patio and can seat 175 people between that and the spacious interior. The patio is fitted with giant Jenga and cornhole — an apparent requirement for outdoor spaces in 2018. Every accommodation appears to have been developed to cater to concert-goers — from the expansive lounge-space to the many concert posters that line the restaurant’s wall. Whether or not you feel like staying at the hotel, Nomad is solid stop before or after the season’s remaining shows.

The Nomad Taqueria and Beer Garden is located at 18485 West Colfax Ave., Golden. It is open daily from 7 a.m. – 2 a.m.

All photography by Giacomo Di Franco.

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