Vail’s newest Mexican restaurant, Casa Mexico, offers authentic cuisine
If you go ...
What: Casa Mexico Authentic Mexican cuisine.
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. seven days a week.
Price range: Appetizers from $9-$17, Entrees from $9.79-$19.
Location: Adjacent to Holiday Inn in West Vail.
More information: 970-479-9000.
• Molcajete, a rock bowl filled with cheese, spices and sauce, and topped with grilled steak, chicken or shrimp, $21.99.
• Coco Culichi, a fresh coconut filled with seafood, $24.
Esteban Rocha didn’t have two dimes to rub together when he rolled through Vail on his way to Grand Junction to learn the restaurant business.
“I had heard about Vail my entire life. I almost got out of the car and, like the Pope, kiss the ground,” Rocha said smiling and laughing.
Rocha had a dream, no money, but a dream and the drive to make it come true.
“I’m in Vail. How lucky I am to be here,” he said.
Rocha and his crew opened Casa Mexico a few months ago, their third restaurant in Colorado. They’re in Vail, Eagle and Winter Park. They opened Winter Park and Vail around the same time, just prior to the last ski season, and they’re all getting rave reviews.
“It was stressful and so much work, but when opportunity knocks, you answer,” Rocha said.
Rocha’s extended family is based in Boise, Idaho, where they have five Casa Mexico restaurants.
They have this down to an art form.
It’s soul food, as in food that’s good for your soul.
Rocha’s grandmother taught the family to cook. She lived to be 101 years old and every morning drank two Coronas. She also put tequila in her coffee, and so does Rocha. They’re happy to do the same for you.
Happy hour? Happy day!
Rocha is originally from Guadalajara, the crib of Mariachi music, tequila and great Mexican cuisine. They’re combining all three for their grand opening Monday when they’re bringing in a band.
Learning the business
Rocha worked in a couple of local restaurants, “to learn as much as I could.” His wife and new baby lived in Denver, and he commuted every day. It all worked out somehow.
“Someone up there was watching,” he said, pointing toward Heaven.
His partner, Jesus Del Toro, is a kitchen magician. He has been cooking since he was 14 years old, starting in his family’s seafood restaurant on the Mexican coast.
Del Toro has a lifetime of recipes and adds them to the menu one at a time.
He worked with Esteban’s brother in Wisconsin and Boise, and decided he’d try Colorado.
“He’s an adventurer,” Rocha said.
Del Toro has been cooking 21 years.
“He has had lots of time to try things. He says, ‘If we do it like this, it’ll taste better,’ and he’s right. It does,” Rocha said.
Menu items to try
There are a couple of things you are required to try.
They do this white cheese jalapeno sauce for your chips, which will bring tears of joy to your eyes.
Then there’s Molcajete, served in a bowl made of volcano rock. They melt cheese and fill it with this amazing concoction of spices and sauce and top it with grilled chicken, shrimp or steak.
You’ll call for seconds.
The margaritas are made from scratch, not a mix. They squeeze the limes every morning.
The Coco Culichi is a fresh coconut filled with seafood.
The Nopalitos salad is made with fresh cactus, which is amazing.
Everything on the menu is gluten free, but you won’t notice it. About the only cholesterol are the eggs in your huevos rancheros.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.