Colorful Cocktails and Creative Cooking
Tequila Joes is an enduring hot spot in Parker with award-winning margaritas, sought-after specials, a casual setting and an outstanding patio, which owner Jeff Kratcha considers one of the best in town.
Born in Golden, Kratcha has always been in the Colorado food industry, crediting “a couple of very good chefs” at the Denver Marriott for teaching him how to add a unique touch to his menu.
In addition to opening Tequila Joes in Parker in 2009, Kratcha is part owner of Coyote’s Southwestern Grill in Greeley and Palomino Mexican Restaurant in Evans. Kratcha is a member of the Parker Area Chamber of Commerce and supports many of the local schools, participating in their fundraisers, as well as offering “Give Back Nights” at the restaurant.
The Tequila Joes menu includes an interesting selection of highlighted specials, with an emphasis on innovation.
“I like to be creative. I mix different spices and cooking concepts, and try to do something totally different,” Kratcha explains.
On visiting Tequila Joes for the first time, Kratcha suggests trying the Crispy Rellenos.
“Every Mexican restaurant should be judged on their crispy rellenos. I’d put mine up against anybody,” Kratcha states.
He prepares the rellenos in Asian egg roll skins and fries them to golden brown, while the chili, cheese and onion mix inside remains smooth and creamy. The rellenos are smothered in green chile, ensuring a combination of moist and crispy textures.
Asian fusion is evident in other dishes – the Honey Red Chile Salmon is served with coconut rice. Elsewhere on the menu, an Italian influence surfaces with two pasta dishes, one with a chipotle cream sauce and the other with a spicy poblano kick.
The eclectic menu includes recipes from Colorado, California, Texas and some items suggested by guests. Kratcha makes the marinades and the specials. Carne Asada is one of his favorites. The juicy skirt steak is marinated for 24 hours, so it is bursting with flavor. It is charbroiled and comes on a melt-in-the-mouth cheese enchilada, with rice and beans. The sauces are made in-house and Kratcha uses mostly Colorado suppliers for his fresh ingredients.
Margaritas dominate the separate drinks menu, starting with the house margarita, voted Best Margarita by the Parker Chronicle newspaper.
Kratcha’s creations include his favorite Cartel Margarita, made with three shots of Milagro Tequila and listed as “so vicious that we have a limit of 2 per person,” as well as the popular Sangria Swirl, a TJ margarita that is frozen with homemade sangria.
The restaurant has a great atmosphere, with a separate family dining room and a vibrant bar area with TV screens for sports fans. Glass doors open onto a spacious terrace with plentiful seating, colorful umbrellas, glimmering lights and a roaring fire pit, perfect for winter days. The south-facing patio gets the full benefit of the Colorado sun and offers a nostalgic rural view of Flat Acres Farm.
The bar room is frequently filled with friends and local Parker residents, including Janice and Dave Sprenkle, who are regular patrons and have come to know the friendly staff by name.
“We come here twice a week. We have since it opened,” says Janice. “The people are all really nice. I like the crab enchiladas, but Jeff’s Friday specials are the best. You must come on Friday to get them, because they’re gone by Saturday!”
The next version of Tequila Joes’ evolving menu is already in the works. Kratcha hints that in the New Year customers can look forward to tasting new tacos, an expanded choice of appetizers, Mexican pizza and extra sides, such as roasted corn salsa.