The charming southwestern style building that sits on the corner of 72nd Avenue and Olive Street in Commerce City has been dishing out homemade Mexican classic dishes for over 30 years. This establishment wouldn’t be a serious staple in the community if it wasn’t for the hardcore appreciation from its diners and the hardworking family behind the name, La Casa Del Rey.
La Casa Del Rey first opened its doors in July 1986. It wasn’t until August 2019 that the restaurant temporarily closed and sparked a heated conversation around the loss of a treasure in Commerce City. Just three months later in November 2019, the doors reopened ready to serve under new ownership. The original owners, Ernie and Nancy Atencio put the restaurant up for sale originally causing the closure. The same building was leased out to Tammy Atencio-Hernandez, niece of both Ernie and Nancy Atencio, and husband Javier Hernandez. Now both Tammy and Javier have help from their three sons Jonathan, Joshua and Jesse Trujillo, who all grew up in the restaurant.
While the transition was a bit jarring, La Casa Del Rey remains in the hands of a family that has been close to the restaurant all their lives.
Amongst the dust storm that startled lifelong customers, Atencio-Hernandez opened a food truck and named it after her late father “Gilly” who worked alongside her grandmother for over 40 years — crafting delicious recipes at La Casa Del Rey. The first day the food truck opened, it was met with an abundance of traffic and very quickly sold out. While Atencio-Hernandez was serving out of the food truck she was able to connect with familiar customers and address their concerns. Now that the dust settled and the original location reopened, the food truck is still around and available for catering events.
While the same warm hospitality remains, the menu has seen some changes. The original menu was a bit overwhelming with an endless amount of options. After attempts to try and condense the menu, La Casa got a lot of pushback from regulars wanting their favorites back. Now the menu has about 95% of its original menu back like the hearty pork burrito with fresh green chile strips, whole beans and melted cheese. This menu item is not only a fan favorite but has a special place in Atencio-Hernandez’s heart — the recipe was passed down from her late father.
It’s as if the temporary closure didn’t happen, most of the same happy and eager employees came back to work ready to bring the original La Casa Del Rey to a newer generation.
With a menu full of family recipes made from scratch daily, it’s the savory green chile that warms the belly and keeps Coloradans coming back. It’s served from mild and medium to hot and extra hot. At La Casa Del Rey, the green chile comes in batches by the gallon. They make 10 to 12 giant pots a day just to keep up with the demand.
Some of the more classic menu items still grace the kitchen—the cheese enchiladas, shrimp ceviche tostadas or carne asada remain hot items. These classics speak to all generations while some of the newer additions lend to a healthier palate.
The Alambre Plato has fresh grilled Asada, bell peppers, onions, bacon and melted cheese in corn tortillas. The shrimp salad offers grilled shrimp and mixed vegetables on a bed of crisp lettuce. These two dishes are just the beginning, La Casa Del Rey plans to launch a new menu in early 2020 with fresh and healthy ingredients including a gluten-free green chile.
As long as the outpouring love for this established restaurant continues to flood its community, the family behind La Casa Del Rey will continue to create tasty Mexican dishes perfect for every occasion.
La Casa Del Rey is located at 7035 E. 72nd Avenue, Commerce City. It is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
All Photography By Adrienne Thomas