Don Guillo (2551 Delta Drive) is bringing Puerto Rican cuisine to Southeast Colorado Springs. Located inside the shopping center at the intersection of Hancock Expressway and Delta Drive, Don Guillo provides dine-in and take-out options, serving up generous portions of traditional Puerto Rican comfort food.
“Puerto Rican cuisine is a mixture of Spanish, Taino, which is our Indian culture, and African,” said Guillo Beauchamp, the restaurant’s chef and owner. “All of those mixtures make up what’s Puerto Rican cuisine. We eat every protein there is — chicken, pork, beef — but we do the beans, rice and plantains. That’s stuff we use a lot in our cuisine. It’s flavorful, not salty or spicy, but it’s flavorful. We put lots of sofrito in it, garlic. Our sofrito is different from the French sofrito — it’s an onions, cilantro and pepper base that we use for every one of our plates. We have pastellas, which is a kind of Puerto Rican tamale. We love roasted pork. We do steaks, chicken. Chicken fricassee, there’s a big European influence on our cuisine.”
I had never tried Puerto Rican food before, but the helpful, and patient, staff walked me through the menu. For around $30, I got churrasco (skirt steak), mofongo, a beef empanadilla, nutella flan for dessert, and a fruit juice beverage that helped establish that island vibe. The skirt steak was perfectly cooked, and served with red onions and chimichurri, a delicious garlic and herb sauce. The empanadilla was wonderful, seasoned ground beef in a flaky pastry shell. The real star of the meal for me was the mofongo, a dish based on African fufu. Mofongo is made from mashed, fried plantains mixed with pork cracklings and seasoned with garlic. It’s served in a kind of molded tower of flavor that you pour broth over. It was incredible.
Which isn’t surprising, given Beauchamp’s restaurant experience.
“I started doing family recipes and I started noticing that this is my passion,” he said. “I’ve always been into some type of art. I used to love design, engineering, architecture, but I felt the hunger in my life for cooking. After years of cooking I decided to go to culinary school, and I went to San Francisco, [to the] California Culinary Academy. I started doing the French influence in my cooking, but I went back to my roots after years of doing fine dining and high-class restaurants in San Francisco, Miami and [Puerto Rico]. I used to open up restaurants for people, sell them the whole concept and then leave. After years I decided to do this, basically going back to my roots to what people like to eat.”
Don Guillo offers Colorado Springs’ Puerto Rican community a taste of home in the Rocky Mountains.
“There’s a lot of Puerto Ricans that are in the military here in Colorado Springs,” he said, “and their families and the people who decided to move here from the island. I brought the real flavors, it’s like if you walk into my grandmother’s house. That smell? That’s the same smell you’d have at your grandmother’s house. It’s very comfort food, but at the same time it takes you on a trip down to the island.”