T-Byrd's new taco and tequila venture downtown 

Side Dish

Dual-star state

It's no secret that 26 E. Kiowa St. has not been a favorable location for several restaurant attempts in recent years, from Whiskey Dick's to Salud Tequila Bar to The Cheese Grill and even more before. But Michael Thompson and his wife Crystal think they have the right recipe to make the spot shine, and their business experience as co-owners of Manitou Springs' Emerald Fields recreational marijuana dispensary should certainly help.

Their venture, tentatively set to open mid-May, is called T-Byrd's Tacos & Tequila (tbyrdstacos.com), and it's molded much like popular street-style taco spots across Texas (where they grew up). Or think of Denver's Machete Tequila + Tacos or the restaurant formerly known as Pinche Tacos — not gut-bomb Tex-Mex eateries, but urban/modern joints.

Thompson believes the tiny size of the dining and bar area hurt the potential for all those former occupants, so as part of a $60,000 renovation, he's taken down a wall and claimed a portion of what was Hunan Springs' space.

"It won't look anything like it looked before," he says, "our capacity is close to doubled."

To pump out the shrimp, fish and pork-belly tacos and other goodies like carnitas and barbacoa, Thompson has tapped former lead banquet chef of The Inverness Hotel in Denver, Cory Bugay, who'll make everything on-site. His menu will also include tostadas and a few appetizers. For drinks, longtime downtown bartender Damien Kadamus has come on board to organize a deep list of tequilas, plus margaritas and cocktails.

"In Texas, there's tons of these type places," says Thompson, noting surprise and disappointment not to find any upon arrival here. And to be clear, he's not just a guy with pot proceeds seeking to build a bar out of boredom: He and Crystal both spent their college years working in restaurants and bars, and he says he'd always wanted to get into one of his own. They've named the spot in honor of her father, who passed away in an airplane accident, so this gets personal.

À la carte

• On Sunday, April 24, at 5 p.m., Nosh (121 S. Tejon St., ppcc.edu/franfolsom) will host the Fourth Annual Fran Folsom Culinary Arts Scholarship Dinner in conjunction with Pikes Peak Community College's Culinary Arts Department and the Blue Star Group. Seats are $95 ($160 per pair), and money raised will provide six culinary students full tuition for their final year of study at PPCC.

Taste of OCC (2408 W. Colorado Ave., tasteofocc.com) returns in and as a fundraiser for Bancroft Park from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 1. Expect 35 hooch and food vendors, live music and arts demos and a contest to win dinner for two for a year in Old Colorado City. Tickets are $35 ($30 in advance).

  • Think Pinche Tacos.

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