Bowl of ‘Zole Returns, Featuring More Chefs and Agave Spirits

BY Linnea Covington

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Last year Bowl of ‘Zole came to Denver, and the timing couldn’t be better. Now it’s back and the feast takes off on Thursday, March 28. 

“Denver has a high IQ for both pozole and mezcal,” said co-founder Jimmy Carbone. “It’s a second home city for us, great chefs and hospitality, plus top spirits industry importers, reps, and distributors are based in Denver.”

Pozole in Colorado has picked up in popularity, with more chefs and restaurants offering the delectable Mexican stew. A lot of the exposure came thanks to chef Jose Avila. He showed just how profitable and accepted pozole can be when he launched La Diabla Pozole y Mezcal in 2021. Serving tacos and four types of homey pozole, the LoDo restaurant quickly became a hit, garnering accolades across the board. Bon Appétit magazine named La Diabla Denver’s best new restaurant of 2022; Avila scored two nominations for a James Beard Foundation Award; recognition from The New York Times as one of the 50 best restaurants in the United States; and when Michelin came to Denver in 2023 La Diabla received a Bib Gourmand award.

table with bowls of negro pozole on it
Last year at Bowl of ‘Zole, La Diabla Pozole y Mezcal brought the negro pozole. | Photo by Linnea Covington

While it’s not confirmed if Avila will be back at Bowl of ‘Zole this year to serve up the negro pozole he did in 2023, plenty of other talent have joined the line up for this year’s fest.

“Bowl of ‘Zole is a great, organized event, and it’s always fun to do an event that doesn’t take a ton of touches to the plate,” said Amos Watts, chef and owner of The Fifth String (currently operating out of Attimo Wine but opening a new space soon). “My cooks are actually fighting over who will go with us this year.”

Another aspect Watts appreciates is how the organizers have the chefs in mind. Carbone, along with Arik Torren, a Bowl of ‘Zole co-founder and partner, also have Mexican spirits at the forefront. Torren himself imports a slew of options from mezcal to tequila to lesser known liquors such as sotol and raicilla. 

Oscar Padilla with his wife holding pozole at bowl of zole in denver
Oscar Padilla returns this year to make pozole for Bowl of ‘Zole on March 28. | Photo by Linnea Covington

Another fan of Bowl of ‘Zole is chef Oscar Padilla, a winner on Food Network’s Chopped and owner of the newly opened Chulo Taco in Arvada. He participated last year and will be back for round two.

TAG Restaurant Group founder Troy Guard brings his Los Chingones concept to the festival. The pozole served garners inspiration from the restaurant’s executive chef, who had a similar style of pozole in Puebla, Mexico when he was growing up. 

“It’s a great opportunity to bring together the chef community in Denver and connect with other chefs over good food and mezcal,” added Guard. “Last year it was a cool and casual setting that reinvigorated us to get back into our own restaurants and create ‘chingon’ food.”

wood board with tequila tasters and bottles
Agave spirits are the second part to the Bowl of ‘Zole festival. | Photo by Linnea Covington

For 2024 there will be around 20 pozoles to try, and over 100 agave spirit tasters. On the food side, don’t expect each small bowl to contain traditional pozole. Chefs are taking the hominy-based Mexican food and giving it international spins.

We’re looking forward to the whole line up, but some of the confirmed participants include: Bill Taibe and Massimo Tullio of Kawa Ni, Michael Beary of Zocalito, Channing Johnson of Tamayo, Brian Rossi of Palenque, Nathan Ayala of Ni Tuyo, and more. 

Bowl of ‘Zole will be at Skylight, 833 Santa Fe Drive, Denver, from 5 to 8 p.m. Tickets start at $55 for early bird, general admission pricing, which starts at 6 p.m. and goes up to $65. At $85, VIP tickets get you early access at 5 p.m. and an Anova Culinary Swag Bag with Anova Precision Cooker Nano (worth $149 on its own). Get tickets to the festival as soon as possible, it sold out last year. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Linnea Covington

Linnea Covington is the managing editor of DiningOut. She comes to us with a long background in food, restaurant and drinks journalism. Over the last two decades she’s written for tons of publications including Denver Post, Washington Post, Forbes Travel Guide, 5280 Magazine, New York Magazine, New York Times, Time Out New York and more.

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