Recent Rebrand of Barbed Wire Reef Honors Modern Mexican Fare

Nestled in our cherished Berkeley neighborhood lies Barbed Wire Reef GourMexican, an upscale yet casual eatery that mimics the feel of a five-star tropical resort. After its recent rebrand, this site is on track to become a local’s everyday stop — perfect for those who need a welcoming place to unwind.

What started as a food truck business in 2011 out of a revamped pickup and custom-built trailer is now a genuinely charming full-scale restaurant. However, a makeshift food truck in the middle of the updated spot remains an ode to its humble beginnings. This rebrand marks the beginning of a new chapter for founders Rico and Flora Aragon, a way to dig deeper into their roots and create the cuisine they truly enjoy.

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Its old menu focused on game meats and seafood, primarily sandwiches, burgers and sausages. Although, the team quickly noticed patrons gravitating towards its Mexican fare far more than its other options. “So that was why we decided we would go towards Mexican, but a more modern take,” Rico reflected. Its current menu is a mouthwatering listing of appetizers, tacos and large plates that are all dressed in a simple yet beautiful manner — adding a slight hesitation to dig in and ruin the dish’s perfection.

Photo courtesy of Word of Mouth Productions

“More than anything, we want to bring Denver this Mexican, modern, authentic and unique experience without getting out of the city, without traveling,” Flora stated. This attitude is mimicked in its lush decor. When entering, you are greeted by greenery lining the walls, accented with calming oranges and blues. A mix of low and high tables makes this choice the perfect pick for any occasion, casual or fancy. Its patio is a highlight — an open concept complemented by its garage door set-up that allows the restaurant to open entirely to its warm exterior. With neon signs reading “Tequila Made Me Do It” and other mantras, Barbed Wire Reef is fit for an aesthetic Instagram post. “It’s a place to disconnect from everything going on in your daily life and to connect to relaxation,” Rico added.

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Although its ambiance alone is worth a visit, the food is more than impressive. Its truffle guac ($12) is a smooth and creamy starter with cotija cheese, pepitas, mushroom, and micro-cilantro, finished with the juicy pop of bright pomegranate seeds. A favorite is its pork tenderloin ($23), with a large serving of supple pork dripping with guajillo sauce, bacon-corn hash and caramelized cippolini onion, complemented with a flavorful roasted Anaheim chile and asadero cheese. If you require a taco fix, try out its birria tacos ($14) topped with white onion, cilantro and asadero cheese accompanied by a savory consume dip.

Barbed Wire Reef also offers a Mexican-inspired brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays. Some highlights include its fluffy ricotta pancakes ($11) with ricotta cream, berry compote and pomegranate-rosemary maple syrup and its smoked salmon toast ($15), a crunchy, savory bite with avocado, jalapeno aioli, chimichurri and a soft-boiled egg. We can all agree that this choice completes the best meal of the day with admirable technique.

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As for drinks, fresh, flavorful and clever is the norm for this cocktail menu. Its juices are fresh-squeezed and the beverage names are punny, adding a whimsical and flirty feel. The Lilac You A Lot ($13) is mixed with exotico blanco, blueberry-hibiscus tea, lavender-infused agave and Baileys Almande. A unique choice is its Kiss My Hass ($13) with exotico blanco, avocado puree, lime, agave and cilantro — a surprisingly creamy and boozy avocado beverage. For those who like it spicy, try the Jala-Pina Marg ($12), a classic with jalapeno-pineapple tequila, coconut rum, pineapple and lime.

The love the owners have for this place is evident. Come in, sit back and relax with a delicious drink in hand.

Barbed Wire Reef GourMexican is located at 4499 W 38 Ave., Unit 109, Denver. It is open Monday through Thursday 3 to 9 p.m., Friday 3 to 10 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Brunch service is Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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