“Why Boulder, why Louisville?”
This was the first question I asked Trent Davol, Partner and General Manager of the newly-opened Louisville location of Pica’s Mexican Taqueria, the third of the Pica’s family which now joins the ranks alongside its Boulder and Jackson, Wyoming locations.
As a longtime resident of the Boulder, Colorado area, I join the thousands in the area who have an affinity for good, Mexican food. In fact, I’d even venture to say that taco and burrito restaurants are more common here in CO than that one popular coffee chain that rhymes with, Shmarshmucks.
Being acutely aware of the high competition there is for any Mexican-restaurant concept, I had to ask Davol, “Why?”
His reply, “We’ve always focused on what we do best, and that’s making some really good food. Boulder was a natural fit.”
All good food starts with a passion, and that’s where it started for Chef Andy Parazette and his wife Danielle, who opened the first Pica’s in Jackson, Wyoming back in 2011. Parazette, a longtime chef in Orange County, missed the fresh, coastal flavors of Southern California-style Mexican cuisine. Serving up good food at an even better price point is a simple recipe for success, and has earned them nods in national publications like Food & Wine Magazine and a visit from Guy Fieri. The casual setting and price point was what appealed to Trent Davol who long worked with Parazette on an expansion plan into the front range, “We wanted Pica’s to feel like a full service restaurant, but make it a place where getting a good meal and a good drink was easy.” As a mother of a two-year-old, I can attest that Pica’s is indeed easy, friendly and a great place to chill with friends.
Expansion was always on the table, but Parazette and Davol knew they’d have to look beyond Wyoming to grow.
“Make one thing work at a time.”
Choosing Boulder as Pica’s next location seemed easy enough—with its burgeoning tech growth and outdoor-loving, Mexican-cuisine eating population, it was a culture that Pica’s restaurateurs were well familiar with. Opening in a small strip mall in East Boulder, Pica’s stayed true to its good food, casual dining roots. Word quickly spread about their fresh flavors and quirky interior, and just 3 years later Pica’s joined the ranks of other popular restaurants in the neighborhood like Blackbelly and Bru Handbuilt Ales & Eats, proving to residents that you CAN find a good dinner away from the bustle of downtown. After becoming a destination beyond the lunchtime must by commuters, Pica’s started to expand again—this time, going even further East to the city of Louisville.
Consistently rated as one of the best small towns of America, finding retail space in Louisville is no easy feat. But timing is everything as they say, and when the corner space opened up at 901 Front St., Davol knew it would be a good fit for the casual, family-friendly eatery. Its Louisville corner location is a prime spot during the popular summertime street faire, and was once actually made up of several businesses including a chiropractic practice and law office. Pica’s joins other popular destinations such as Lucky Pie, Sweet Cow, 12 Degree Brewing, Waterloo and others who have cultivated that family-friendly atmosphere which draws many to Louisville’s quaint main streets.
“Part of success is building relationships with everyone.”
Pica’s has cultivated good relationships with the locals, both with those they do business with and those they serve. In Louisville, Davol wanted to evoke the same coastal theme as their Boulder location, working with Andy Johnson of DAJ Design on the interior design. The space is both refreshing and joyful with its brightly-colored walls, custom woodwork from Shawn Hoven of O&I Woodworks and artwork from local artisans; from the photos of Baja taken by local photographer, Alison Vagnini, and printed directly onto plywood (from Boulder-based Photo Craft), to its unique mosaic art from local artist, Karen Yust, which adorns its walls, Pica’s lives and breathes its local community. The floor, reminiscent of tiled flooring, was all hand-stenciled by Davol’s wife.
Though the dining room is a popular standout with customers, it’s the added room in the kitchen that makes Davol giddy, “In the Boulder location, it was about making whatever we had work. But here, we were able to plan the space from the ground up.” What’s the big ticket item that the staff enjoys? The new Nor-Lake walk-in cooler. The added space is put to good use for storing prep, proteins and other ingredients for busy lunch and dinner services.
But sometimes even big things come in small packages, like a brand new convection oven from Southbend. This “game changer,” Davol says, is one of the best things to happen to their kitchen for one simple reason—consistency. Convection ovens are known for their precise temperature controls, which regulates roasting temperatures for a long period of time. Speaking of which, their dessert flan traditionally cooked in a regular oven could take upwards of 120 minutes, but in the convection oven? Try 40 minutes. Used for desserts, quesadillas and much more, kitchen staff couldn’t be happier with the new addition in the back-of-the-house.
I have no doubt that Pica’s will soon be a cornerstone to the downtown Louisville area. As a Louisville resident myself, I’m thrilled at the prospect of biking down on warm afternoons with my daughter to enjoy an order of Tacos al Pastor.
Pica’s Mexican Taqueria is open Monday – Sunday from 11am – 10pm and is located at 901 Front St. Louisville, CO 80027.