After 45 years, Blue Bonnet is still drawing in crowds thirsty for made from scratch margaritas and authentic Mexican food. Head chef, Louis from Durango, Mexico brings tasty family recipes to the table. Though smothered burritos and cheesy enchiladas are still staples on the menu, choices have evolved to include fresher and lighter fare, including the mahi-mahi ceviche, gazpacho and street tacos. Gluten free, vegetarian and vegan items are also available.
Brother and sister duo, Gary Mobell and Marci Rosenberg run the restaurant they practically grew up in. Their parents purchased Blue Bonnet in 1968, transforming it into what has become one of the best known spots for authentic Mexican cuisine. Gary talks about the way the restaurant has evolved over the years and the secrets to making sure that the spot lives up the hype, even after all these years.
Carri: How has the restaurant evolved over the years?
Gary: Both physically and in terms of cuisine, we’ve changed much over the 45 years since my folks took over. Physically, our location moved about 500 yards 19 years ago. We understood the need of our customers; there, we changed buildings into our current location to accommodate a much larger patio. However, our address has remained the same 457 S. Broadway!
We’ve also made enormous adjustments to our menu. For example, when my folks were active in our business, all of our chilies were canned. Now, they are all fire roasted in our kitchen and local when available. We utilize other local ingredients whenever possible.
We have evolved along with the South Broadway neighborhood. More sophisticated palates, innovative competition and a yearning for local, fresh ingredients have heavily influenced our current offerings. Thankfully, our head chef, Luis Galvez, has taken a creative license with many authentic recipes. For example, our sun-dried tomato and roasted garlic tamale with poblano chilies is a restaurant favorite that Galvez created with a family recipe and infused it with regional ingredients. And, our Blue Bonnet mixologist, John Duvernet makes all of our margarita purees in-house, no bottled purees here!
Carri: How do you incorporate local ingredients?
Gary: Whenever possible and available, we prefer to cook local ingredients! For example our beans, produce, chicken, beef, pork, tortillas and other essential products are all locally-sourced including items for our house made margarita purees—cucumbers, fire roasted jalapenos, peaches, mint, strawberries and basil.
Carri: What has been the secret to success?
Gary: Relationships, passion, devotion, innovation and flexibility.
Carri: Have any menu items that have stayed on the menu since the restaurant opened?
Of course! Classics, which laid the foundations of restaurant are always a staple—enchiladas, burritos, and chili rellenos—they’re still here.
Carri: Do you notice an increase in people demanding healthier options? How have you responded?
Gary: Real food, fresher, less processed ingredients and a yearning for regional cuisine with local produce, it’s been a trend we have incorporated for a few years now. For example: look at our chilies, they are all fresh and roasted in house, 20 years ago, we were using canned chilies. Anaheims, poblanos, jalapenos, habaneros, red bell peppers–now, it’s all regional. We have an extensive gluten-free menu and have added more salads, signature tacos and seasonal soups.
Carri: What do you enjoy doing when you aren't running a business?
Gary: Reading history, keeping current via the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. I’m interested in business, sports, art and travel.
Carri: Who has been your most memorable customer?
Gary: Good question! Everyone is so important, however, there is one standout and that is Dan Reeves, former Coach for the Denver Broncos. He did so much to put us on the map and give notoriety to the Blue Bonnet. He was a great role model to our local guests. He would be at the Blue Bonnet every Friday evening before a Sunday home game. We had so many wonderful guests here because of him, he was such a gentleman. When Denver hosted the Division playoffs, so many national media personalities including John Madden, The sports commentator, came to the Blue Bonnet because of Reeves. When Denver hosted the Final Four, Dan Reeves recommended the Blue Bonnet, and as a result, the restaurant was featured on the front page of USA Today and The Wall Street Journal
Blue Bonnet Restaurant
457 S. Broadway
Denver, CO 80209
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