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Side dish: Renovation at Jorge's



More-massive Mexican

Assuming the half-million-dollar renovation-in-progress goes according to schedule, Jorge's (2427 W. Colorado Ave.) could reopen for business just in time for Territory Days (May 28-30), or by the first week of June, says owner Jorge Ayala.

Ayala is putting in an entirely new storefront; leveling the floors; relocating the bar; knocking out the current bathroom to add space for five more tables; and placing new bathrooms and more kitchen space into a new addition onto the restaurant's rear.

The reopening corresponds with the outfit's four-year anniversary. Jorge's Sombrero in Pueblo (1319 E. Evans Ave., 719/564-6486), which inspired Springs clientele to pester Ayala into opening the sister operation, has now been in business for more than 25 years.

Mile-high migration

Following in the footsteps of Restaurant Fifteen Twentyone's Duy Pham and Sushi Garden's Kyung Lee, chef Michael Degenhart has left Denver for Pueblo. He'll debut his menu at the Carriage House Restaurant at the Rosemount Museum (419 W. 14th St., 719/543-4192) on April 15, tentatively.

The Carriage House stands detached from the main Victorian mansion (, and Degenhart says he aims to rejuvenate its culinary reputation with a contemporary American menu that he hopes will grow into more of a farm-to-table model, with local and organic sourcing when possible.

"We looked at this spot a couple years ago ... everything just seemed right about it," he says.

Degenhart brings 30 years' experience to the venture, including nine years at the now-defunct but once-acclaimed Tante Louise. (He mentored Pham there and Pueblo chef Ben Bedard at Littleton's The Manor House — so they've got kind of a clique going.) He plans to open only for lunch and Sunday brunch initially, possibly expanding to dinner hours down the road with a small-plate concept.

From river to desert

Manitou Springs' Nile Café (954 Manitou Ave.) has new ownership and a new name. It's now called the Sahara Café (685-2303), and rather than an Egyptian bent, it features cuisines spanning the Middle East, from Jordanian and Syrian to Lebanese and Palestinian plates.

Manager/chef and former Heart of Jerusalem partner Sam Ayaad says he's expanding the menu daily, focusing on food quality before overhauling the décor. Hookah service is out, and less-familiar (to most Americans) dishes like fattoush (a fried pita salad), ma'amoul (date- or pistachio-filled pastries) and foul (a chunky fava bean spread) are in, along with the usual suspects and baklava two ways.

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