There are no two ways about it — Dana Rodriguez is one of the state’s great culinary treasures. Since 2015, she’s consistently received James Beard nominations and last year it was announced that she would act as executive chef for the Trey Parker and Matt Stone-backed revamp of Casa Bonita. She owns a celebrated mezcal and tequila brand and runs three of the most vivacious eateries in the city.
Super Mega Bien — Rodriguez’s second location following Work + Class and predating Cantina Loca — has focused on pan-Latin small plates, dim sum style since its opening in 2018. Recently, it updated its menu with plans to continue the changes as the city is plunged into winter.
On busy evenings — of which there are many — guests are greeted by an endless train of carts serving such delicacies as patatas bravas, green garbanzo hummus, ceviche and carne asada. Specific items and bigger plates can be ordered from the menu, assuming groups haven’t already built a feast from what’s on rotation. Cocktails range from the necessary staples like a spicy margarita and Fernet and Coke to more robust options including the Chicha ($13), fashioned with Plantation pineapple rum, Peruvian purple corn, clove, cinnamon and pineapple and its frozen mango daiquiri ($13), with ginger-infused Cachaca, lemon juice and mango smoothie.
The newest additions to the menu include saffron arancini ($10), its take on summery rice noodles, chipotle shrimp ($13) and Whole Colorado Striped Bass ($36), served with bok choy, yuca, tri-color carrots, heirloom tomatoes and an aromatic red curry sauce. No visit should conclude without a taste of the spicy dry rub beef brisket ($36), an abundant platter of near-delicate beef that’s braised with cumin, paprika, garlic and onion. It’s then finished with a creamy chipotle slaw and warm steamed bao buns. This one’s essential — although more than a little extra may come home with anyone who has gorged on the cart’s many temptations.
As the city patiently waits to see what Rodriguez will do with the once-abhorred culinary program at Casa Bonita, Super Mega Bien still stands as a testament to her imagination and talent. It’s also absurdly fun.
Super Mega Bien is located at 1260 25th St., Denver. It is open Tuesday – Thursday from 5 – 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 – 11 p.m.