'The place to be': Casa Los Córdovas opens in Taos

Casa Los Córdovas is opening Thursday (Dec. 1) and is planning a

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Casa Los Córdovas is opening Thursday (Dec. 1) and is planning a grand opening celebration Dec. 15.

Taos Mayor Darren Córdova is starting up his new bar and restaurant in the space formerly occupied by Shadows Lounge and Grill, 330-A Paseo del Pueblo Sur. He formed a corporation under which to operate the restaurant in September and said the transition has gone smoothly.

“It’s coming out really well,” Córdova said during an interview with The Taos News Tuesday (Nov. 29). “It’s a whole different environment.”

He said renovations included carpeting the walls to help deaden sound, installing a quasi-separation wall between the bar and restaurant areas, refinishing and “de-cluttering” the bar, lightening up the space and giving it a thorough cleaning. Córdova said the new look is family-friendly and lends itself to both lunch and dinner.

“It looks very inviting,” he said.

He said he wants to make Casa Los Córdovas a desirable lunch destination, though it will feature live music on Friday and Saturday nights and a weekly tailgate party, including a special $6 menu, for football fans on Sundays.

He said live shows on Fridays and Saturdays will feature local musicians such as the Monkey Feeders, Vanilla Pop and Jimmy Stadler, and a regular music schedule is likely to be established.

“We’ll experiment from time to time,” he said.

At the Dec. 15 grand opening, Córdova said the restaurant will feature specials, entertainment and a live broadcast.

“It’s still in the works,” he said.

Casa Los Córdovas will also host a “Christmas musical revue” Dec. 21 and 22, with shows at 6 and 8 p.m. at a cost of $10 per person. The show will feature different types of music, as well as Santa and a group singalong.

Córdova said the new restaurant area will be family-friendly even at night, giving locals another option for late-night dining after games and other events. Casa Los Córdovas will also offer a happy hour with food and drink specials from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, as well as a late-night menu with reduced prices starting at 9 p.m. daily.

Córdova said Casa Los Córdovas’ catch phrase — “The Place to Be” — aims to encompass all the bar and restaurant have to offer, from sports to live music to family dining. He said the establishment will have two main focuses: attentive service and reasonable prices.

“The prices are going to be very affordable, and the portions are good,” Córdova said.

To help bring his ideas to fruition, Córdova hired as his manager Matthew Timber, of Boerne, Texas, who, according to his résumé has 30 years of food service experience and has managed restaurant groups worth millions. Timber said he wanted to come back to Taos to be close to his dad, Harold Timber.

Once Matthew Timber signed on, Córdova said it was a “no-brainer” to move forward with the plan.

Timber said he sees a lot of potential in Casa Los Córdovas, and he helped design a new menu with distinct touches. He said making the effort to do things such as bake fresh hamburger buns and cook deli meats in-house, will make the food stand out.

“There’s a lot of twists in this menu,” he said. “It’s the little things that make it unique.”

Timber said he expects the ribeye steak enchiladas, peppercorn-crusted steak salad and stand-out burgers to be a hit with guests.

Nearly all the dishes on the lunch menu cost less than $10 and include a Cajun shrimp and spinach salad, a fire-grilled chicken breast sandwich, smothered burritos and a variety of burgers. On the dinner menu, appetizers include an “onion haystack,” boneless buffalo wings and bacon-wrapped, skewered shrimp. A number of different steaks and seafood dishes are also offered, and house specialties include the Timber’s World Famous Green Chile Stew, winner of the World Champion Green Chile Cook-off in Las Cruces.

“Everything’s a little bit different,” Timber said.

Casa Los Córdovas will be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays. Timber said the kitchen will serve food late, as well.

“If the bar is open, the restaurant is open,” Timber said.

The Town Council must still hold a public hearing over Casa Los Córdovas’ liquor license, which Córdova said will happen Dec. 27. He said the license has moved through the state process smoothly, and he doesn’t anticipate any problems, though he will be recusing himself from the vote.

According to information from the state Alcohol and Gaming Division, the purchase price for the license will be $300,000.

“If the town approves the application, the division will require submission of any final documents — generally a bill of sale, tax clearance and wholesaler debt clearance,” an email to The Taos News from the division reads. “Once all documents and fees have been received, a license will be issued.”

Córdova is leasing the liquor license until the process is complete.

He said he is somewhat concerned that members of the public will not differentiate his ownership of Casa Los Córdovas from his more public role as an elected official, though he is hopeful they will. He said everyone, including his “worst detractors,” will be welcome at the establishment.

“I don’t want it to be referred to as ‘the mayor’s place,’” he said. “I want it to stand on its own merits.”

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