Aspen Mexican restaurant Mi Chola opens Wednesday

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times
Inside Mi Chola, Aspen's newest Mexican restaurant, which opens its doors today.
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |

Aspen now has more than one Mexican eatery in town — just in time to ring in the Cinco de Mayo holiday.

The third generation of Mexican restaurants to operate in the corner space at 411 E. Main St., called “Mi Chola,” opens its doors for business this afternoon.

Aspen resident and Mi Chola co-owner Adam Malmgren, who’s worked in the local culinary scene for nearly 20 years, said the restaurant’s inception is “a dream come true.”

“I’ve wanted to open my own restaurant since I was 15,” Malmgren said.

Having grown up in Southern California, Malmgren and Mi Chola co-owner Darren Chapple said they are both well versed and passionate about authentic Mexican food.

But Mi Chola plans to whip up more than tacos and margaritas, the owners said.

While its main focus is “traditional Mexican with a contemporary blend,” Malmgren said, the menu also will draw heavy influences from Southern California and South America, including less traditional items like Korean barbecue tacos and risotto-stuffed chili relleno peppers.

Chapple, who owns another Mexican restaurant, La Rosa Tequileria and Grille, in Santa Rosa, California, said the menu at Mi Chola will constantly evolve.

While Chapple said the community at large has been “phenomenally” supportive of the endeavor, he said he’s also heard people fear that the restaurant will be high end or too expensive.

“We want it to be very approachable, like a taco shop,” Chapple said. “But because it’s Aspen, we have to have some flair and some bling.”

Still, Chapple said he and Malmgren intend for the restaurant to be one of the most affordable and approachable restaurants in town.

He also noted that the restaurant’s prices are somewhat dependent on the rent of the nearly 7,000-square-foot space.

While Chapple said some people have struggled with the restaurant’s name, “Mi Chola” — a street term with several interpretations ranging from “my girl” to a female gang member — both owners said the name is intended as a term of endearment.

“It’s a strong, confident woman that’s been through a lot,” Chapple said.

Malmgren added, “It’s how we look at this place. … And we take an enormous amount of pride in taking care of and cherishing this baby.”


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