On a recent evening, executive chef Oscar Padilla was making the rounds in Tamayo’s dining room, dropping off bowls of cucumber-tomatillo ceviche and chatting up diners as he walked them through his new spring menu. Clad in his signature ivy flat-brim hat, the Los Angeles, California native animatedly described his favorite dishes: the Calabacitas salad composed of delicate, thin slices of Mexican zucchini, chayote, and heirloom tomatoes dressed in a zingy habanero gazpacho, and the Oaxacan salmon, which is served on a rich bed of spiced mole negro, enhanced with the peppery ash from charred chile peppers.

Chef Oscar Padilla. Photo courtesy of Tamayo

Padilla took on the role of executive chef in late 2016, and his light, colorful fare fits right in with prolific global restaurateur Richard Sandoval’s mission at the now 17-year-old Tamayo. That’s likely because Padilla is no rookie to Richard Sandoval Hospitality group, having opened nearly 15 concepts for the company as a corporate trainer.

In refreshing Tamayo’s menu, Padilla turned to the dishes of Mexico City that he often shared with his own family. “The concept of this food is when people come in, they discover dishes from Mexico,” explained Padilla, who wants to shift the American perception of “authentic” Mexican-style cooking from fajitas and enchiladas to dishes that showcase the country’s amazing fresh produce and seafood.

The passionate chef is doing just that by prioritizing fresh, high-quality ingredients—some sourced from Colorado farms and others imported direct from Mexico, like slightly sweet Mexican zucchini, five different types of peppers, and specialty cinnamon. He’s also made sure his menus offer dishes that accommodate all types of diners, from vegans and vegetarians to the gluten-averse. “I want to make food for everybody,” Padilla says.

Indeed, there’s a lot to love on the new menu, from oh-so-tender pork carnitas to a cobia aguachile garnished with micro-veggies from Pueblo’s Milberger Farms. Whatever you do, be sure to save room for dessert: Padilla’s tres leches bread pudding, cinnamon-y banana empanada, or cooling cucumber margarita sorbet are all worthy ends to a meal.

1400 Larimer Street, 720-946-1433