While people may not be able to travel during the era of COVID-19, Stagecoach Village’s new Ofrenda restaurant allows guests to transcend into a Latin American sensory experience, offering “a place to taste and remember.”
From the moment guests walk through the doors, their eyes are met with colorful, Day of the Dead-inspired artwork, spectacular displays of Mexican hand-blown glass and the pinnacle of the restaurant—an authentic, traditional altar decorated with lit candles, paper flowers and photos.
“Everything has been handmade and brought in with purpose and care,” Michael Stone says about the aesthetics of the restaurant. Stone co-owns Ofrenda and helms Phoenix’s Taco Guild.
The worldly, two-story Cave Creek restaurant officially opened its doors for guests on December 4. The restaurant “has been one year in the making for us,” Stone says, adding how excited they are to finally open their doors.
The name of the restaurant translates to “offering” and refers to the traditional altars made during Mexican Día de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, rituals with the purpose of honoring and celebrating the lives of those who have passed on.
While the atmosphere of the restaurant provides an experience in itself, what guests really come for is the food, of course.
“Everything on the menu here is very traditional inspired dishes, not Mexican-American by any means,” says Carlos Marquez, chef and co-owner of Ofrenda, also a Cave Creek resident. “You’re going to see more of the interior of Mexico. This is the real Mexico.”
While designing the menu, Marquez said he took inspiration from cuisine reigning from Mexico City as well as Chihuahua.
The menu is made up of authentic dishes like seasonal ceviche and pork empanadas for starters, which start at $10. Guests can also enjoy a variety of salads as well as tacos. Main dishes start at $22 and go up to $38 with options like carne, chicken mole tacos and huarache nopales.
Dishes are prepared in an open-fire oven and served on hand-crafted plates. Guests can dine on tables made of Indian rosewood, which were all hand crafted and made in house, Marquez says.
On weekdays, the 6,500-square-foot Ofrenda opens its doors at 3 p.m. and on the weekends, it offers a Latin inspired brunch menu from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. It closes at 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
The location was formerly leased under the name Indigo Crow, which was a contemporary American restaurant that Marquez owned and operated.
Marquez went through culinary training at Le Cordon Bleu and has been cooking professionally since 1999.
Marquez explains what makes Ofrenda’s kitchen unique. Typically, other places refer to the kitchen and dining room as “the back of the house” and “the front of the house.” he said.
However, at Ofrenda, “our kitchen is the heart of the house,” he says. This philosophy comes from his traditions growing up in a Latin family where everything revolved around togetherness in the kitchen, Marquez said.
Ofrenda’s “heart of the house” features an open kitchen design where guests can see all the action.
Ofrenda has two bars, one on the ground floor as well as one upstairs which offer a variety of beer, wine and unique artisanal cocktails. Happy hour prices are available from Monday through Friday, 3 to 6 p.m.
The design of the restaurant also includes a “Katrina Room” downstairs with a long table and private patio for larger parties. Upstairs features an “Agave Room” displaying hundreds of bottles of tequila.
In regard to COVID-19, the restaurant has made efforts to assure guests that Ofrenda meets all health and safety guidelines.
“Our philosophy on (COVID-19) is real simple,” Stone says. “We want to give everybody a right to choose. Choose what’s best for you, your family, your friends, whatever it is that you want.”
It’s wonderful if people want to come out and dine in the restaurant, however if one is uncomfortable, “We understand that too,” he says. “Come back and see us when you can.”
Guests can choose to dine inside or outside on the wrap-around patio, which offers guests a view of Cave Creek sunsets and at night, the North Valley’s signature starry skies.
We feel like there’s a lot of pent-up demand to get out and enjoy life a little bit,” Stone says. “Our facility is large enough to make sure we have quality distancing as, as necessary and needed. People want to get out there and I think they’’re excited to do so.”
7100 E. Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek