In just eight months, Shells and Sauce has become a Congress Park favorite. The cozy Italian spot with Tuscan orange walls is popular with families and neighbors, most of whom have been patiently waiting years for 12th Avenue to come into its own. Chefs Julia Doman and Michael Estes make that wait worthwhile with hearty dishes such as baked ravioli, rustic cioppino, and Colorado lamb meatloaf with Vesuvio potatoes and glazed carrots.
– Best Bites Lasagna with layers of sirloin and sausage marinara, noodles, and cheese
– Hot Seat Sidle up to the bar for a cocktail, or, if it’s really crowded, dinner.
– Inside Tip Check the chalkboard for the evening’s appetizer and small-plate specials.
– Twenty Under $30
When we stumbled into this Congress Park staple during a swirling snowstorm one evening, it was like being welcomed into a friend’s cozy kitchen. The food, like the atmosphere, is unpretentious. One bite of the lobster ravioli, swimming in Chardonnay cream sauce with Italian parsley, was enough to make us regulars, and the vongole alla puttanesca (spaghetti tossed with little neck clams in a tomato and white-wine sauce) transported us to the Italian seaside. This summer, we’re excited to head back for our next meal al fresco on the restaurant’s rooftop patio.
What Other People are Saying:
What a sweet little place. My fiance took me to dinner here after driving by and noticing a sign about a rooftop patio (knowing I am a HUGE fan of rooftop patios)- AND a street level patio too (2 patios!! 2 patios!!) Grabbed a table on the rooftop looking out on the neighborhood trees and started with some wine and an italian marg (not sure whats in there but i like it). pasta for dinner- a special scampi diavola and penne russa, both delicious. service was fine, food was very very good, and setting was divine. can’t wait to go back.
I love this place. If I could have them cater my food at my wedding, I would. And I might. The food is always consistent; there is no one night with a bad chef. I have eaten at all the Cherry Creek Mexican restaurants, where the food comes out overcooked, or the sauce too oily, or the tacos cold. Mexican Cantina rises aboves that with beautiful appetizers, dinners, and desserts. Go early because it can get crowded. As it is a wonderful neighborhood gem with good prices and 5 star food.
I like this place. Came here for a date with my girlfriend, and we both had a great time. Service was friendly. The complimentary bread was so good we asked for seconds. We got big glasses of happy hour wine for $4 apiece, and our waiter’s recommendations for dinner were quite delicious. I had the chicken w/tomatoes. And my girlfriend had a enchalata thing. It’s just fancy enough inside for special occasion type nights, yet you can still feel comfy in jeans. I’ll be back for sure!
I adore this place. I have eaten here more times then my waistline cares to admit. The food is amazing. Dessert are divine. Brunch is creative. The servers are always top notch. My impossible-to-please mother requests Mexican Cantina every time she’s in town, and that should say it all.
They have very interesting, unique dishes and fabulous desserts. The red velvet cake is a must try. Prices are also extremely reasonable. I find myself going back again and again, and I have yet to take someone here who does not love it.
Live in the neighborhood and watched it being remodeled and couldn’t be happier with the job the owners have done. after being named one of denver’s top 20 restaurants under $30 in 5280 we finally made it in and we were not disappointed. the food was wonderful as was the service. We will definitely be back.