Most people get excited about turning 21 as it commences the champagne popping. However, Tamayo —the elevated Mexican eatery in Larimer Square — is pouring out their refreshing margaritas to toast to 20 years on the block.
Larimer Square has seen some turnover as of late, with institutions like The Market and Tag closing their doors with hopes someone new brings a new breath to the neighborhood. Garage Sale highlighting vintage style and Hidden Gems swirling ice cream offer their uniqueness since opening. This milestone represents the perseverance and unity this block holds tightly. Chef Richard Sandoval of Tamayo and his team humbly neighbor restaurants with talented chefs like Jennifer Jasinski and Frank Bonanno.
Tamayo contributes to modernizing Mexican cuisine by continuing to change the menu to incorporate seasonal and local ingredients. Sandoval recalls the flavors of his travels for inspiration. The menu rotates frequently which prompted the idea to bring back highlights of missed menu items from the past. With loads to chose from, Sandoval narrowed it down to two appetizers, three main dishes, a dessert and, of course, a margarita to cheers with.
“I am honored to have shared these last 20 years with the amazing guests that come through the doors each day. The restaurant industry has its ups and downs but knowing that we help make lasting memories makes it worth it,” Sandoval said.
The glow of summer is still going with memories to be made. Thus, his anniversary menu pulls on that brightness with notes of seafood and produce to highlight authentic Mexican cuisine.
Folks can begin their night with a bowl of Tamayo’s extra crisp homemade chips — that undoubtedly shatter because of their thinness, yet have the strength to hold their anniversary loaded guacamole. The Crab Guacamole ($15) ditches crispy bacon bits for lump crab delicately scattered on top. The chili adds slight heat and smokiness to the traditionally sweet and salty seafood. Avocado toast with crab just found it’s Mexican rendition on Tamayo’s menu.
A fresh look at the Chili Rellenos ($13) transforms this traditionally heavy cheese dish into a lighter mix of shrimp, corn and spinach. It resembles a filled empanada but is concealed in a shell providing smokiness and spice.
The entrees build upon Tamayo’s creativity for reinvention. The Carne Asada ($25) has flavors of coffee and chili that meet the grill with it rather than being solely steak. Nopales — more commonly known as cactus — combines with other vegetables that together could pass as pico de gallo. It doesn’t have the harsh flavor one would think of when looking at the spiked exterior. A mild and sweet flavor remains once the thorn plucking finishes — similar to a bell pepper.
The Camarones ($24) bring the acidity often seen in shrimp ceviche by giving it a tequila soak before being seared. It sits above a homemade corn tortilla that is still soft, more so like a flour tortilla. The layer of cheese makes it appear like an open-faced quesadilla with strands of Oaxaca cheese melting down the edges.
The more rustic Carnitas ($24) get refined in this menu. A blue corn tortilla provides the base, but instead of being a taco plate, the shredded pork is the focal point. The mindful plating highlights the delicacy that comes from long hours of braising pork.
“These dishes made our first menu 20 years ago. They created the foundation for Tamayo. It feels special sharing that with both new and returning customers,” Sandoval said.
The anniversary menu will remain until Aug 31, 2021. Served solely for dinner from Sunday – Thursday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Tamayo is located at 1400 Larimer St.