Nearly two years ago, chef Efren Velasquez left Jefferson Park and moved downtown with La Loma restaurant to Broadway. Now Velasquez is back in his old neighborhood, opening his own spot at the corner of Eliot Street and 25th Avenue. At El Cazo, Velasquez serves Mexican classics such as fajitas, enchiladas, and chiles rellenos. The restaurant is running a soft opening this week with a grand debut coming on Saturday.
Named for the copper pot used to cook carnitas over open fire, El Cazo specializes in Velasquez’ family recipes from Texas and Mexico. The chef learned to cook at his mother’s restaurant in Chihuahua. Prior to opening his own spot, he spent a decade working his way up to executive chef at Denver’s La Loma. On El Cazo’s dinner menu is a queso with onions, tomatoes, and Anaheim chiles; and a grilled steak tampiqueña with a cheese enchilada, a ground beef taco, rice, and ranchero beans. Those slow-cooked pork carnitas are served with the restaurant’s own tortillas and toppings.
El Cazo also offers house margaritas made with either Suerte blanco or reposado tequila. Dessert includes vanilla custard-filled churros. And a weekend brunch will bring green or red chile-smothered chicken fried steaks as well as chilaquiles.
Status: El Cazo will open for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends.