Hottest Restaurants In Denver - France, Latin America, Southeast Asia, The Deep South: Our Top Picks Cover The Globe
Zagat | August 6, 2017


Candela Latin Kitchen - Modern Latin fare & a lively vibe

Restaurateur Isiah Salazar and exec chef Jesse Vega celebrate their respective Mexican and Puerto Rican roots with this Pan-Latin kitchen and bar in LoHi, where regional staples like mofongo, empanadas and tres leches get a stylish spin alongside cervezas, caipirinhas and sangria. An open kitchen framed by a neon ceiling sign reading “HOT” animates the airy, colorful space, as does the skyline view from the front patio.

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Candela Is Ready to Roll Out Latin Cuisine in Former Central Bistro Space
Westword | Mark Antonation | August 3, 2017

Sometimes change is good — especially when nobody loses out. Central Bistro & Bar wrapped up a five-year run at 1691 Central Street two months ago, but owner Isiah Salazar and chef Jesse Vega held on to the space, giving it a new name and menu rather than closing up shop altogether. The result is Candela Latin Kitchen, which will open to the public on Friday, August 4.

Candela's theme is the cuisine of Latin America, with a heavy emphasis on Puerto Rico, Peru, Mexico and Cuba, according to Vega, who grew up in Queens, New York, in a Puerto Rican household. "It's the most culturally diverse borough in all of New York," the chef explains. "Just the potlucks at church were crazy."

Vega balances that cultural diversity with his family's Puerto Rican cooking in a menu that's equal parts familiar and novel — without ever seeming intimidating. "We don't want to get confused with a Mexican restaurant," he notes, pointing out that Denver already has plenty of great options for that. But at the same time, tacos were a part of his life growing up, so Candela's menu sports a few taco options. Those options are laced with Caribbean influences, though, including a sweet-plantain taco and pork carnitas revved up with a Veracruz-style salsa macha.

Shrimp ceviche takes a Peruvian twist, with its coconut-milk "leche de tigre" marinade hit with an ample dose of habanero. Salazar says guests will be encouraged to shoot the leche left over at the bottom of the dish (there's a notch on the rim to make that an easy proposition) with a rum or tequila back.

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