Tiradito de Atun y Cerezas showcased seasonal Colorado cherries as a salsa macha. | Photo by Linnea Covington

The Go-To Spot Of the Summer Pops Up in a Mexican Restaurant

Featuring aguachile, ceviche, oysters, and other seafood, chef Sharif Villa has made Choza a concept not to miss, right inside 3 Margaritas Broomfield.

BY Linnea Covington


Broomfield is not the first place one thinks of when talking about seafood, let alone the classic dishes found on the beaches of Mexico. That’s why chef Sharif Villa launched Choza, a summer pop-up in the back of 3 Margaritas Broomfield that runs until the end of August. 

Villa said he wanted to open Choza in order to give the area a taste of seaside dining in our landlocked state. The name Choza translates to shack or hut, where Villa, along with 3 Margaritas Broomfield owner, Jesus Gutierrez, built a tiny kitchen in the back of the main restaurant. 

Chef Sharif Villa and 3 Margaritas owner Jesus Gutierrez at Choza. | Photo by Linnea Covington
Chef Sharif Villa and 3 Margaritas owner Jesus Gutierrez at Choza. | Photo by Linnea Covington

Now, Thursday through Sunday from 12 to 8 p.m., the chef creates the bright, flavorful seafood dishes he had growing up in Mexico City. With Choza, Villa also has a tasty way to highlight local and in-season ingredients, spices, and colorful foods not always associated with the combo platters at basic Mexican-American restaurants. 

Not that diners have to go far for a smothered burrito. The 3 Margaritas regular menu has all the favorites from flautas to chicken enchiladas to tortilla soup. And if the name sounds familiar, chances are you’ve seen it around. The Broomfield spot opened in 1999, and Gutierrez, who used to bus tables there when he was a teenager, now runs the operation.

The 3 Margaritas company, a family-run since inception in 1979, started as Las Margaritas in Kirkland, Washington thanks to brothers Nicolas and Gustavo Morales. The pair came from Cuautla in Jalisco, and at the time Mexican restaurants weren’t so easily embraced, especially in the northwest. 

Negro aguachile at Chozo. | Photo by Linnea Covington
Negro aguachile at Chozo. | Photo by Linnea Covington

Lucky for the Morales family, the Seattle Times wrote a great review of Las Margaritas, earning not just customers, but a restaurant model people sought out. Over the decades more locations opened and Las Margaritas spread, eventually branching out beyond Washington and changing the name to 3 Margaritas. 

It’s because of 3 Margaritas that Villa has an outlet for his creativity, though it’s not the chef’s first time making this sort of food. He has a long resume including graduating from Colorado Mountain College Culinary Institute, working at Edwards Meats in Wheat Ridge, and cooking under restaurateur Troy Guard (Los Chingones, Guard & Grace, Hashtag, and TAG Burger Bar). It was at Guard’s now-shuttered spot Lola where Villa last flexed his Mexican coastal muscles. Now, diners can get a taste of his expertise in Broomfield.

The idea to launch Choza at the end of May came about after Villa and Gutierrez did a series of tequila dinners at the restaurant. They worked well together and Gutierrez wanted to do more with the patio at his restaurant. The owner took down walls, added a door, tables, sun shade, and a beach-side-kitchen into the space. All the cold food gets served from that tiny kitchen, and if you sit at the “chefs counter,” you can see all the jars and containers filled with Villa’s various experiments. It’s also the place to be for first person tweezing action. 

Stuffed oysters with tropical, mezcal-base cocktails. | Photo by Linnea Covington
Stuffed oysters with tropical, mezcal-base cocktails. | Photo by Linnea Covington

The Choza menu changes a little each week, depending on what’s in season and what the chef can source. Expect to always get the Loaded Oysters Preparados ($4 each, or $22 for six), a one-bite dish featuring an east or west coast oyster topped with, for menu number four, poached shrimp, carne seca, pico de gallo, avocado, chicharron, and house-made clamato mix. Let the flavors settle and meld on the tongue, it’s all at once savory, spicy, sweet, and tangy. The oysters can also come naked, starting at $2.50 each. 

An $18 plate of Aguachile Negro Tatemado refreshes with thin slices of cucumber, perfect for cutting the richness of the burned corn tortilla sauce blanketing black tiger prawns. On a recent visit the Tiradito de Atun y Cerezas showcased seasonal Colorado cherries, which Villa made into a salsa macha. Cherries were also soaking in tequila inside a large jar on the counter, and showed up in a dessert as a compote on top of shaved ice with rum-infused condensed milk ($10).

Shaved ice with cherries and rum sauce. | Photo by Linnea Covington
Shaved ice with cherries and rum sauce. | Photo by Linnea Covington

Back on the savory side, Hamchi and Melones ($18) combined fresh watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew with cucumber, jalapeño, and lightly-cured hamachi in a leche de tigre broth. On Friday and Saturday Villa breaks out the trompo to make al pastor tacos the traditional way ($5 each, or three for $14). The dish is also available on the other two days, though made inside the kitchen rather than on the shaded patio. 

While dining outside really hammers in the coastal vibe, all the dishes can be taken indoors too. The 3 Margaritas menu is also available alfresco, and tables can even combine the two restaurants without any fuss. For example, said Gutierrez, maybe a child wants something from the kids’ menu while parents go for oysters, or one date craves enchiladas while the other wants aguachile. 

There are no rules, only great food, kind service, and plenty of mezcal and tequila to go around. Just make sure to go soon, the sun sets on this beachy destination at the end of August. 

Visit Choza in the backyard of 3 Margaritas Broomfield, Thursday through Sunday from 12 to 8 p.m. 6896 W. 120th Ave., Broomfield, 3margaritasrestaurants.com

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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.