Fresh, handmade gorditas encompass smoky, roasted poblano chiles. The crispy, handmade shell complements the soft roasted chiles and cotija cheese tames the spicy. Crema and lettuce make an excellent topper and the side of Mexican rice and refried beans make a satisfying addition. Sweet and tangy, ruby red jamaica agua fresca washes down each bite, or pair with freshly made horchata to further cool the spice.
Gorditas con rajas y queso is just one of the authentic, home-style eats found on the rotating lunch menu at Comal Heritage Food Incubator, which opened on the TAXI Development in River North (RiNo) in October 2016. Comal was founded by Focus Points in partnership with Zeppelin Development, with the mission of building communities by strengthening families.
Focus Points, a non-profit based in Denver, is an education focused organization which started Comal as part of their community outreach program to provide education and job training to low-income women in the underserved Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods. Zeppelin Development, committed to place-making in Denver, has provided the commercial kitchen space for the initiative on their mixed-use TAXI campus.
A cohort of community members will spend eight months in the incubator program where they will learn marketing, financial literacy, computer literacy, English, culinary arts, and operations and management with the ultimate goal of starting their own successful ventures – providing the opportunity for women to become successful entrepreneurs with true economic resilience. 60% of all proceeds from lunch sales will go towards paying the women, and the remaining 40% will go towards covering operational expenses.
“The best part about working with the entrepreneurs at Comal and watching the project come to fruition is seeing how much pride the women take in their cooking, and watching their confidence grow each day,” said Slavica Park, director of economic and workforce development at Focus Points.
Comal translates to the traditional griddle used to cook tortillas in Mexico and Central America. Much like recipes, the comal is often passed down from mother to daughter, through generations of women.
Comal intends to evolve with each new cohort of entrepreneurs, and there are plans for future expansion. Each cohort will have the opportunity to redesign the menu and redefine the concept to meet individual and group needs.
Comal is located at 3455 Ringsby Court, #105 and serves lunch Monday through Thursday, from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.