Rico Aragon first got his start in the Denver food scene with exotic meats like camel and kangaroo.
Now, he’s planning a new restaurant in Cap Hill where the food is traditional but the drinks are exotic.
The 43-year-old native of Chihuahua, Mexico is preparing to open Wild Taco at 215 E. 7th Ave., where Tacos Tequila Whiskey and a related spinoff operated from 2018 until late February this year.
“Mexican fare is my heritage and something I’ve always wanted to do — but with a little bit of wild in its core,” Aragon said.
Aragon took over Tacos Tequila Whiskey’s 10-year lease. He plans to open Wild Taco on May 2 with his sister Flor, who has been working with him for the past six years, and former coworker Yoon Terry, a South Korean native who has worked for local restaurateurs like Frank Bonnano and Troy Guard.
Wild Taco will serve traditional tacos, like al pastor, birria and skirt steak. But Aragon is bringing his creativity to the cocktail menu, which will include a carrot margarita and a beet tequila cocktail. Yoon also plans to add some Asian fusion with dishes like a vegetarian kimchi rice bowl.
The restaurant’s 1,500-square-foot space opens up to a 60-seat outdoor patio. There will be a mural by local artist A. Michel Velazquez.
Aragon said he loves the fact that the street has been closed to vehicles for months as a result of the pandemic, with tables, chairs and tents set up for restaurants along it.
“I think people, myself included, are ready to embrace an unrestricted summer for dining in,” Aragon said.
Axio Commercial Real Estate broker David Schneider represented Tacos Tequila Whiskey in the deal, and Brian Frank with Axio represented Aragon.
Aragon started Barbed Wire Reef as a food stand in 2011 and opened a food truck the next year. He now owns two food trucks, a restaurant at 4499 W. 38th Ave. in Berkeley that he opened in 2019, and a food stall in Edgewater Public Market.
He also opened a sister eatery with a Mexican twist called Carnivore Taqueria, which has a food truck and a stall within Edgewater Public Marketplace as well.
In the next two years, Aragon hopes to open two or three more Wild Taco locations, as well as a food truck, and he said he’s always looking for the right opportunity for a new Barbed Wire Reef location.
“Because this is our first Wild Taco location, we are putting our heart and soul into this,” Aragon said. “We want this to be where wild decisions are made and where people can go wild for a while.”