Alma Fonda Fina brings upscale Mexican cuisine to LoHi
Chef Johnny Curiel grew up around his father's restaurants across Colorado. At age 14, he decided to take up the family craft.
Details: Curiel didn't cook at first — his father made him start out by washing dishes — but looking around his new restaurant, Alma Fonda Fina in Denver's Highland neighborhood, it sure seems like scrubbing plates paid off.
State of play: Standing prominently at the corner of 15th and Umatilla streets, the restaurant offers upscale Mexican cuisine, inspired by fondas, which are popular in Mexico City.
- Fondas are often family-owned, hole-in-the-wall restaurants offering homemade bites.
What they're saying: "It's a different approach to Mexican food in the most traditional way," Curiel, whose family hails from Guadalajara, tells us.
What I ordered: I started with camote asado (roasted sweet potato) and the remolachas ahumadas (smoked heirloom beets).
- If veggies always tasted this flavorful, I might be convinced to turn into a vegetarian. Curiel tells me the sweet potato dish is one of his favorites.
- My top dish was the aguachile de chile fresno — a completely unique take on a seafood dish featuring seared hamachi and roasted pineapples.
- The carnitas negras (pork collar shank) was a perfect entree and was enough for my brother and me (he loved it!).
Pro tip: Ask for a side of tortillas and sauces (there are at least three.)
Of note: The restaurant has an extensive collection of top-shelf tequila and mezcal, including several cocktails using the Mexican spirits.
The bottom line: Alma Fonda Fina is on the pricier side, but it's worth every penny for a special night out, and the bar is perfect for catching up with a friend over drinks.
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