New Mexican eatery opens in Avon |

New Mexican eatery opens in Avon

Sarah Mausolf
Vail CO, Colorado
HL Iguana Frog 1 DT 12-9-08

AVON, Colorado ” In a town where a fifth of the restaurants serve Mexican food, the latest south-of-the-border-inspired eatery hopes to distinguish itself with a twist on traditional dishes.

A plate of fajitas arrives on the table at Iguanas Frogs Tuesday looking like standard fajitas. But a hint of sweetness lingers on the taste buds, evidence of the chef’s pineapple juice and soy sauce seasoning.

A former line cook at Spago restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, Pedro Hernandez brings a creative sensibility to the dishes at Iguanas Frogs.

“The restaurants here make the same recipes,” he said of local Mexican eateries. “So we want to be different.”

Hernandez worked with restaurant owners Jose and Maricela Castaneda to craft the menu. His contributions include the chicken mole ” chicken cooked in a six-chili sauce, served with rice, refried beans and tortillas. Hernandez improvised on his mother’s recipe by adding a bit of chocolate to the sauce.

Even before the meal arrives, an unexpected trio of salsas in glass bowls arrives with tortilla chips.

If the food feels authentic, that’s because it is. Hernandez, a 25-year-old Avon resident, grew up in Puebla, Mexico and boasts a decade of experience cooking at Mexican restaurants in California. Edwards resident Maricela Castaneda, 41, said she grew up in Torreon, Mexico.

Iguanas Frogs opened last Monday in The Seasons building in Avon. The food is Mexican with a few American staples like waffles and omelets.

Breakfast prices range from $2 for gorditas to $7 for huevos rancheros. The combined lunch and dinner menu starts at $7 for tacos and tops out at $12 for camarones a la diabla (shrimp in spicy sauce).

“Iguanas Frogs” is a Mexican expression similar to the American saying “apples and oranges,” Hernandez explained. But the decor inside the restaurant suggests a literal interpretation. Frog and iguana figurines decorate shelves. To compliment the critters, owners splashed the walls in festive paints like lime green and orange. Tables laced with colorful porcelain designs remind the diner of stained glass windows.

While the decor screams for attention, the location does not. Iguanas Frogs’ subtle presence could pose a challenge for new customers. Tucked away on the back side of The Seasons at Avon, the eatery leases a space Cuisine Cafe once occupied.

Some customers have already stumbled upon Iguanas Frogs. Craig Nadeau, 47, spotted the eatery while walking his dog near the Avon Center. He picked up quesadilla fajitas.

“I think it’s a nice idea because I like Mexican food and it’s convenient to my home,” he said. “If they had margaritas, it would be even better. I wouldn’t have to drive over to Fiesta’s.”

Avon Center resident Jake Lemaster, 36, stopped in for a shredded beef burrito. He was pleased to see a Mexican restaurant set up shop near his home.

“There’s not really much in the way of Mexican food, just regular old Mexican food,” he said of the local dining options. “Everything’s all fancy.”

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2938 or

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