In the spring of this year, Monarch Casino completed a $400 million renovation. The massive casino, resort and spa that towers over the entrance to Blackhawk — and marks the gateway to the other 33 casinos that share the high-country strip — now boasts a 23-story hotel, 60,000 square feet in gaming, a genuinely magnificent spa and, perhaps best of all, an assortment of restaurants fit for the discerning palate. Spread across five different dining concepts — Monarch Chophouse, Monarch Buffet, Bistro Mariposa, Twenty-Four 7 and Java Etc. — the resort now offers varied and enticing fare backed by a range of accomplished chefs.
Twenty-Four 7 is, as the name suggests, the only round-the-clock restaurant in town and serves a menu of American standards alongside a smaller list of pan-Asian plates. For the a.m. crowd, several formidable omelets are joined by a breakfast burrito, pancakes and cinnamon french toast. Lunch and dinner staples include loaded potato skins ($13), a variety of burgers and sandwiches and a great selection of pizzas, most notably the Tuscan Combo ($17) — with pepperoni, fennel sausage, ricotta, tomato sauce, roasted garlic, parmesan and mozzarella. It should be noted that all dishes are served on casino time, when a midnight spread of hashbrowns, kimchi fried rice and steak linguine wouldn’t turn a single head.
Bistro Mariposa is the place to go to fuel up on tequila and enjoy a thoughtfully-curated list of tapas, tacos, salads and entrees. Helmed by chef de cuisine Nile Lewis — who previously had stints at OAK at Fourteenth, Colterra and Hotel Jerome — Bistro Mariposa delivers the same kind of robust elegance found coming from the chef’s formative kitchens. The squash and wild mushroom taco plate ($14 for three) arrives topped with kale, black beans, herbs, pickled onion and cotija and manages to outshine its protein-heavy cohorts. For the hungrier guest, the steak gaucho ($81) — a bone-in ribeye with epazote chimichurri and almond salsa macha — provides a more-than-ample pillow for whatever agave may follow.
For anyone feeling a bit more luxurious, the Monarch Chophouse is the obvious choice. Chef de cuisine Greg Weadick — who acted as opening chef at Nocturne, cooked at Osteria Marco and ran a catering company in Portland for five years — does impressive renditions of steakhouse classics, taking good care to make sure his small army of sides receive their fair share of the spotlight. There are steaks and chops for all appetites, though the lobster mac and cheese ($26) and roasted wild mushrooms ($10) might be the most unmissable things on the menu. At the outer edge of opulence, Louis XIII is also conspicuously served by the half-ounce ($95), ounce ($185), two-ounce ($375) and a 50-ml box set ($650) that includes a hand-blown Baccarat crystal decanter and coffret.
The Monarch Buffet harks back to a more quintessential vision of casino dining, though the dishes are all treated with a more than a fair bit of panache. Guests can expect a range of seafood, prime rib and a truly delightful dessert bar complete with cotton candy and a bright array of gelato and ice cream. Java Etc. rounds out the offerings, serving coffee and light snacks.
It’s safe to say that the grand reopening has been a success, with each added aspect helping to augment Monarch’s all-encompassing vision of luxury and leisure.
Monarch Casino is located at 488 Main St., Black Hawk. It is open every day, 24 hours a day.
All photos courtesy of Defy Them All.