Jim Nixon opened Kalaka Mexican Kitchen in Evergreen in June 2020, during the height of the pandemic, and while many established restaurants struggled or closed, Kalaka thrived.
“We ended up taking the gamble during COVID … and guess what?” Nixon said. “It took off like a rocket, and it’s still taking off. That’s why we want to share it with Denver.”
In January, Nixon and his wife, Ivonne, plan to open Kalaka’s second location at 4526 Tennyson St. where Mas Kaos operated from 2016 until July of this year. Before opening their first location, at 29017 Hotel Way in Evergreen, the couple had owned and operated a franchise of the Colorado-based El Senor Sol mini-chain at the same address since 2011.
Ivonne, who is from Chihuahua, Mexico, said Kalaka is a way for her to put a modern twist on the traditional cuisine she grew up eating. “It’s a little bit more creative than just rice and beans on a plate.”
The menu includes enchiladas with homemade mole, chile rellenos with a homemade batter, rather than an egg wrap, birria tacos, and trashcan nachos. Margaritas come in a variety of flavors with fresh made purees, including prickly pear or lavender.
The 4,000-square-foot space will have a sleek look with black and white colors throughout.
On top of Kalaka’s new location, the Nixons plan to open a smaller-format taco shop called Takiza Taco & Tequila Bar at 1519 Wynkoop St. near Union Station in the spring of 2023. It will feature a reduced version of Kalaka’s menu focused on tacos, tequila and mezcal.
“It’ll be like Kalaka’s little sister,” Nixon said,
Nixon also owns Illegal Burger, which he first opened in Evergreen in 2013 next door to his former El Senor Sol franchise. Illegal Burger, which has no relation to Illegal Pete’s, is a fast-casual gourmet burger spot with four locations now, including in Arvada, Glendale and downtown Denver. Nixon said he hopes to eventually franchise it.
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