Travel

How to Support Latino-Owned Businesses in Denver Right Now

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

Aguas Colorado
Aguas Colorado
Aguas Colorado

Being a transplant city, Denver is lucky to host residents from across the globe. Its diverse population of restaurants, small businesses, and services includes an ever-vibrant Latino community, with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce reporting that Hispanics make up a whopping 22% of the metro area’s population. And, now that most businesses have safely reopened (bring a mask, just in case), it’s a perfect time to support our Latino neighbors. This list doesn’t capture everyone, but it’s a good start for the Denverite looking to explore what the Mile High City’s Latino community has to offer and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

Cuba Cuba
Cuba Cuba
Cuba Cuba

RESTAURANTS

Cuba Cuba Cafe & Bar

Golden Triangle
Cuba Cuba has been “Cubanizing” Denver for over 20 years, and it’s easy to see why. A menu that includes slow-roasted pork shoulder, “mojo” marinated flank steak, and a ton of tapas sounds amazing as-is, but just wait until you taste it. Add some fan-favorite flavored mojitos to the mix and it’s a meal to remember (and that’s an understatement). Plus, relishing in savory meats and flavor-packed Cuban food while supporting a family-owned and Cubana-operated business is always a win-win.
How to support: Open for dine-in, takeout, and delivery.

Northside Market
Northside Market
Northside Market

North Side Market

North Side
Founded by husband and wife Carlo Hernandez and Jazmine Mendoza and their longtime friend Leslie Amaya, North Side Market aims to highlight small businesses-especially those with Latin roots. The focus is multifold, from creating and supporting communities to celebrating the history of the North Side neighborhood, to giving small business owners a leg-up in building their brands.
How to support: Follow on Instagram for upcoming market dates and vendor information.
 

Cholo Ass Vegan

Northglenn
About five years ago, owners David and Jessica Alires set out to strike the perfect balance between the flavors of traditional Mexican food and not-so-traditional meatless ingredients. The result is a striking menu full of vegetarian-friendly options that don’t sacrifice taste, featuring items like jalapeño stuffed tacos, hibiscus birria tacos, fuego elote, and pozole, to name a few.
How to support: Follow on Instagram for upcoming pop-up locations.

Aguas Colorado

Various locations
For beautiful-looking, wonderful-tasting, and extremely refreshing aguas frescas, you can look to Aguas Colorado. Made and served by Nester Amaya, Maria Salinas, Jose Amaya, and Diana Paredes, the tasty beverage makes appearances at festivals, farmers markets, and wherever a fruit-forward drink is appreciated. Nester Amaya pays homage to the water stands he grew up drinking from in Mexico by posting up at various locations in Denver and serving the drinks with fresh fruit toppings and a sprinkling of chamoy.
How to support: Follow Aguas Colorado on Instagram to find pop-up locations.

La Diabla
La Diabla
La Diabla

La Diabla Pozole y Mezcal

RiNo
Jose Vilchez Avila is no stranger to epic foods produced by a dedication to simplicity and tradition. Avila, who runs the X’Tabai Yucateco food truck and is also the heart and soul behind El Borrego Negro, the whole-animal barbacoas slow-cooked in an underground fire pit, recently opened La Diabla as part of Avila’s mission to bring the flavors and cooking methods of Mexico City and Hidalgo to Denver. The menu includes, of course, a variety of pozole, shareables, and tacos, as well as a lengthy mezcal and tequila list, with the option for a flight if you’re having trouble deciding what to sip.
How to support: Open for dine-in, takeout, and delivery.

Lala's Bakery
Lala’s Bakery
Lala’s Bakery

La La’s Bakery

Arvada
For your next special occasion, pick up a custom cake from La La’s and know you’re supporting a Latina-owned business (and also getting some really, really good cake). Order cakes, cupcakes, and cheesecakes that are perfectly decadent and vibrant, with fresh fruit adorning nearly every one. Once in the Larimer Square Market space, La La’s has continued to grow despite Covid-19 challenges, and we hope to see some cakes lining shop windows soon enough.
How to support: Pre-order custom cakes online and pickup in person.

Cultura Chocolate

Lakewood
Chocolate that makes you feel so, so good, for a few reasons. It tastes incredible, it comes from a Latina-owned company, and it’s setting the bar high for sustainable, accessible, and high-quality chocolate. Owner Damaris Ronkanen grew up visiting family in Mexico and enjoying her abuela’s signature champurrado (chocolate atole) and mole sauce, and her experiences shaped her journey through culinary school and opening Cultura.
How to support: Visit the shop in person Thursday – Sunday from 8 am – 2 pm, or order online.

Café Cruzano

This is your chance at authentic, small-batch coffee that tastes unlike any cup you’ve had before. Roasted by the owners’ families in Coatepec Veracruz, Mexico, Café Cruzano is beyond carefully roasted coffee whose beans grow in high elevation and rich, volcanic soil, bringing a quality and flavor that goes unmatched in our coffee-loving Colorado.
How to support: Buy a bag of beans (or three) online or follow on Instagram for pop-up locations.

Maria Empanada
Maria Empanada
Maria Empanada

Maria Empanada

Platt Park & Aurora
Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, owner Lorena Cantarovici built her empanada empire in Denver from scratch. Named for her mother, this spot serves up empanadas of all varieties from generations-old recipes. Stuffed with everything from chorizo and eggs to a caprese-style with tomato, basil, and mozzarella, you’ll want to order at least a dozen at a time.
How to support: Visit in person, order online for pickup, or order delivery via DoorDash

El Chalate

East Colfax
This small family-owned spot is easy to miss. But if you skip it you’ll be missing out on traditional Salvadoran specialities made right, including pupusas stuffed with queso and chicharron and yuca frita for just a few bucks.
How to support: Open for dine-in, takeout, or delivery via Postmates

Los Parceros

Montclair
This Colfax favorite for Colombian food recently went back to its traditional roots after being purchased by the husband-and-wife team of Andrés Chaparro and Martina Will. Chaparro, who is also a partner in Zeppelin Station’s La Rola, is focused on authenticity for the future of Los Parceros, so stop by for specialties like plátano maduro con queso (ripe plantain with cheese), arepas, and bandeja paisa, the national dish of Colombia.
How to support: Open for dine-in, takeout, or delivery via Doordash

La Chiva
La Chiva
La Chiva

La Chiva

Overland
Owner Jorge Aguirre had Denver craving his Columbian specialties served from his original food truck for years before adding a brick and mortar location in 2017. The food truck still operates in the summer (order the lomito sandwich loaded with pork shoulder and smoked ham) but you can score empanadas, arepas, arroz con pollo, and more at the Broadway location anytime. 
How to support: Open for dine-in with a new outdoor patio. You can also order for pickup or delivery online and via Postmates and Grubhub

Cuba Bakery & Cafe

Aurora
Craving a taste of Miami-style Cuban? You’re in luck. Orlando Colombe, the owner of this spot, used to operate three Cuba bakeries in Miami before bringing those flavors to Denver. With the recent closing of Cuban favorites Buchi Cafe Cubano and Frijoles Colorado Cuban, this is also one of the rare places to score Cuban sandwiches, pastries, and savory specialties like ropa vieja and lechon asado.
How to support: Open for dine-in and takeout

Tarasco's
Tarasco’s
Tarasco’s

Tarasco’s Restaurant Denver

Athmar Park
Federal Boulevard is a destination for a ton of Latin cuisine but this is definitely one of the standouts. The spot from chef/owner Noe Bermudez (who also runs Kahlo’s in Westwood) specializes in Michoacán dishes, including a must-order seven chile mole along with favorites like enchiladas, burritos, and sonoran-style bacon-wrapped hot dogs.
How to support: Open for dine-in or takeout.

Lazo Empanadas

Multiple locations
What started as a wholesale empanada business in 2016 from co-owners Francois and Christian Saber and Luis Gomez soon expanded and now has five locations (with more on the way) where you can get their expertly crafted savory pastries made with dough imported from Argentina.
How to support: Open for dine-in, takeout, and delivery.

Comal Kitchen
Comal Kitchen
Comal Kitchen

Comal Kitchen

RiNo
In partnership with the nonprofit Focus Points, this heritage food incubator is a place where immigrant women, many from Mexico and El Salvador along with several Middle Eastern countries, can come to train for careers in the culinary world. The menu changes often and features traditional foods from the women’s home countries like tamales, flautas, and gorditas.
How to support: Open for dine-in, takeout, and delivery.

Areyto Puerto Rican Food

Food Truck
In May of 2016, Denver got its first food truck specializing in Puerto Rican cuisine and it’s still rolling around town today. Though you’ll have to plan ahead since they pop up at various places around town, it’s totally worth the effort for mofongo, jibaritos (plantain sandwiches), tostones, and more.
How to support: Follow them on Facebook to see where they’ll be posting up

Work & Class

Five Points
This spot that specializes in making a “square meal” way more special than that sounds is co-owned by chef Dana Rodriguez who also owns nearby sister restaurant Super Mega Bien. Rodriguez grew up in Chihuahua, Mexico, eventually training under James Beard Award-winning Denver chef Jennifer Jasinski for a decade before opening this popular spot with co-owner Tony Maciag.
How to support: Open for dine-in or takeout.

Dos Luces Brewery
Dos Luces Brewery
Dos Luces Brewery

BREWERIES

Dos Luces Brewery

Platt Park
This brewery co-founded by beer industry vet Judd Belstock and fermentation expert Sam Alcaine (who is the son of El Salvadoran and Cuban immigrants) specializes in chicha and pulque, two styles of beer brewed from corn instead of barley. These unique brews are the only ones of their kind in Denver, so if you want to change up your all IPAs all day routine, this is the spot.
How to support: Visit the taproom in person or order beer to-go online

Cheluna Brewing

Aurora
This brewery located in the Stanley Marketplace is co-owned by the husband and wife team of Javier and Jennifer Perez and was inspired by the spirit of Oaxaca, Mexico, where Javier’s grandparents were from. Their “chelas” (slang for beer) include year round favorites like Lowrider Mexican Lager and Coco-xoco Porter along with seasonal specialties.
How to support: Visit in person or order online for pickup

Sarah O. Jewelry
Sarah O. Jewelry
Sarah O. Jewelry

RETAIL

Sarah O. Jewelry

Dairy Block, Tennyson Berkeley
This is a Mile High go-to for unique jewelry and engagement right. Owner Sarah Ortega grew up around the jewelry business. Her mother, Mary Vigil, is the owner of Ooh! Aah! In Albuquerque, New Mexico. After moving to Denver, Ortega opened her own Ooh! Ahh! which led to an expanded line of bridal and other high end jewelry and became Sarah O.
How to support: The showroom is open by appointment only. You can also shop online or book a virtual consultation.
 

Mi Pueblo Market

Multiple locations
This locally owned chain for Latin cooking staples has five locations in the Denver metro area. If you’re looking for horchata by the jug, sheet cakes, overflowing bins of brightly colored produce, and cuts of meat that are hard to find at a typical grocery store, look no further.
How to support: All locations are open 7 am – 9 pm daily

AmaDa Artesania

Various locations
Leslie Amaya (co-founder of North Side Market) offers a blend of rich color and texture with artisanal quality to deliver raw, real, and stunning fashion to Denver. Find her shop full of brilliantly colored “sombreros cordobés (flat-top hats), all hand-stitched and intricately decorated with beads (“chaquira”) by Mexican artisan Juan Gerardo.
How to support: Shop online or follow on Instagram to find pop-up locations.

Ana Marina Studio

Online
A harmony of color, texture, and tradition radiates through each delicate piece of jewelry from Ana Marina Studio. Ana herself is an immigrant from Mexico, using her talent and craft to celebrate her cultural heritage and the beauty of Latin American art.
How to support: Shop online or inquire about custom orders.

Museo De Las Americas
Museo De Las Americas
Museo De Las Americas

ARTS & CULTURE

Museo de las Americas

Lincoln Park
This Latin American art museum on Santa Fe Drive has been a pillar in the community for 28 years. Their exhibits feature everything from ancient to modern works, showcasing the creativity of artists from the diverse cultures of the Americas.
How to support: Visit in person. The museum is open Tuesday-Friday, 12pm-6pm and Saturdays, 12pm-5pm.

Chicano Humanities and Arts Council

Baker
This cooperative art gallery in the Santa Fe Arts District has over 200 active members and works to promote Denver’s professional Hispanic artists. Typically, the exhibits change monthly with most works for sale, and the events calendar is back up and full of exhibit presentations, artist talks, and more.
How to support: Gallery is open Wednesday – Friday 11 am – 3 pm.

Latino Cultural Arts Center of Colorado

Various locations
The LCAC’s mission is to provide a space and resources that showcase and elevate Latino artists, intellectuals, and other creatives. The center is currently working on a Cultural Campus whose home will be in Sun Valley and La Alma Park as well as an “intergenerational and interdisciplinary community arts program called ‘Las Bodegas.'”
How to support: View the center’s Abarca Family Collection or browse the shop online (by appointment only).Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Molly Martin is a Denver-based freelance writer. Follow her @mollydbu on Instagram and Twitter for more updates on food, fun, and life in the Mile High.

Erica Buehler is a Thrillist contributor.

Travel

Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: Booking.com polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

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