Two new restaurants recently opened in Gypsum - Tu Casa Mexican Restaurant and Strecker's Market and Cafe.
Besides the usual Mexican cuisine, Tu Casa specializes in seafood dishes and also offers a full breakfast menu that includes stuffed French Toast.
Tu Casa is at 10663 U.S. Highway 6, the former location of The Dog House Grill. It is open from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. every day.
Strecker's Market and Cafe is at 925 Green Way, basically on the other side of Highway 6 from Tu Casa.
Strecker's offers European food, wine and beer. German sausage is Strecker's specialty, as the market is an extension of O.W.'s Heritage Sausage company. Patrons can buy a variety of gourmet items there - including locally made sausage and imported balsamic vinegar reductions and cheeses - and they may also sit at a table and consider an array of menu items.
Strecker's hours are currently 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Soon there will be a happy hour on Fridays from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday will also be Ladies Night. Women will receive discounted wine and a free order of garlic bread.
Ruben Chagoya opened Tu Casa Sept. 7 after working as an executive chef at The Dusty Boot in Eagle for 14 years.
"I saw an opportunity," he said.
He has been in the restaurant business a total of 24 years, starting in New Jersey at age 14.
"I came from Vera Cruz, Mexico, so we are very seafood oriented here," he said of his restaurant. "I learned cooking from working in restaurants on the East Coast as a boy."
Chagoya's wife, nieces and nephews help him run the place, which he co-owns with his sister.
Tu Casa's menu is extensive.
A house margarita costs $6.
Some specialty appetizers include Campechana for $13.95, Oysters on the half shell topped with ceviche at $10.95 for six or $20.95 for 12, and chipotle shrimp for $11.95. Campechana is a tangy tomato sauce with shrimp, octopus, oysters and jalapeno, cilantro, onion and avocado slices served with saltine crackers. The chipotle shrimp is served with blended chipotle chiles and garlic cream sauce over tortilla chips and avocado slices.
A plate of two Baja-style breaded shrimp tacos topped with cabbage, pico de gallo and house white sauce, served with rice and beans, is $10.95. Plates of fish or carne asada tacos are $9.95.
A Caribbean salad is $8.95. The salad features mixed greens with fresh pineapple, cranberries, dried cherries, red bell peppers, green onions, sesame seeds, cilantro and honey lime dressing.
Breakfast items include classics like biscuits and gravy, and chicken fried steak with two eggs, hash browns and sausage gravy for $9.95. Plates of stuffed French toast or huevos rancheros are $7.95.
If you're looking for a fancy snack or meal, or some imported European ingredients, Strecker's Market and Cafe is the place to go.
Strecker's is an extension of O.W.'s Heritage Sausage company, which opened last February and was a vendor at this year's Eagle Flight Days.
Rick "Cotton" Juedemann owns the business with his son and had a soft opening for Strecker's Market over Labor Day Weekend. O.W. is Cotton's grandfather, who passed on the German family's recipes.
The Juedemanns are still fine tuning the venue and the menu. They are also busy preparing for Gypsum's Oktoberfest on Sept. 29.
"We'll probably have a grand opening after that," Cotton said. "Right now we have to make enough sausage to feed 400 people."
Meanwhile, people have been dropping in for lunch and dinner, and they've been impressed.
"We had a table of five who came in after a camping trip and were amazed to find something like this here," Cotton said. "They said the nearest place like this is in Vail and we're cheaper."
The menu ranges form meat and cheese sampler plates to sandwiches, pizzas and various combinations. Imported beer and wine is also available.
"We're looking into getting a local brewer to make some beer for us as well once we figure out what is selling," Cotton said.
One of the cafe's specialties is a two-cheese grilled cheese sandwich with sliced short ribs on it for $7.
Cotton is also proud of his flatbread pizzas, which are $12 or $13. The Caserta has prosciutto, goat cheese and fresh melon topped with a balsamic reduction. The Tuscan Garden has tomato, spinach and artichoke hearts.
A meat and cheese sampler includes grapes and a balsamic dipping sauce for $15. There are also German, Italian and Spanish (not Mexican) theme plates for $14. An Around the World Plate includes all three and is $25.
"We use a lot of special olive oils and reductions, so it's been tough to train employees," Cotton said.
As implied by the name, patrons may also buy a variety of gourmet food items and ingredients.
"We ordered an Italian balsamic vinegar reduction that cost $175 for a 6-ounce bottle," Cotton said. "We thought we were ordering a big bottle! I doubt we'll order more but we've got it for now."
Perhaps the bottle will be included in one of the Christmas baskets they'll offer, which will include cutting boards.
"We'll do some dinner specials this winter, too," Cotton said.