Sharing some tapas, enjoying a bottle of European wine and relaxing to live jazz music on a Saturday night. European style.
Such an experience is what the Wilkins family imagined when it opened Bistro Magia at 5925 Zang St. in South Jeffco.
“The tapas concept is really a social thing,” said Frank Wilkins, who opened Bistro Magia with his wife, Sharon. “Just taking your time, relaxing and just taking a minute out of everyone’s day so you can just relax.”
Tapas fall somewhere between ordering an appetizer and a full meal. Like appetizers, they are made for sharing. But in combination, tapas can also make a meal.
It’s the kind of eating that the Wilkins family enjoyed while traveling extensively in Europe and, in particular, Spain. As they traveled, Sharon and Frank took away some of the flavors and dishes they tried along the way.
“And we kind of bring the recipes home, and we try them and develop them into our own,” said Kimberly Wilkins, Sharon and Frank’s daughter, who is head chef and menu developer at Bistro Magia.
The restaurant, which opened two months ago, exists not only because of the Wilkins’ love of European-style cuisine, but also because there’s nothing like it this side of Denver.
“Every place has its niche, and we’re trying in one area that we want to fill,” said Sharon Wilkins.
In doing so, Bistro Magia’s focus is on providing the most authentic European dining experience possible.
Each menu selection is inspired by a European dish, and even the wine and beer list finds its inspiration on the other side of the Atlantic.
“All of our beers are European beers with the exception of one,” Frank Wilkins said.
And even that one domestic beer is made in the style of a German Hefeweizen.
Bistro Magia also features homemade sangria, in white and red varieties. The drink list is meant to appeal to a crowd with sophisticated tastes.
“We have a full bar,” Frank Wilkins said. “We pretty much handle the high-end stuff.”
That complements an entre menu that includes pan-seared lamb chops with primavera orzo or mushroom-baked quail with potato gratin.
Bistro Magia also serves paella along with its hot and cold tapas, which, shared among friends, can be a meal in themselves.
“If you get two or two and a half of them, it’s pretty much a dinner,” Frank Wilkins said.
Tapas options range from roasted almonds to fruit and cheese plates to marinated quail.
In the two months Bistro Magia has been in business, it has drawn diners who want a traditional meal and others who hang out for hours simply to enjoy some tapas and wine.
“It’s a mix,” Frank Wilkins said. “People come in and have a couple tapas to get started; then they’ll have a main entre.”
There’s live music on the weekends, a weekday happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. and even a Tuesday martini night for women.
“We’re trying to do a little bit of this, a little bit of that,” Frank Wilkins said.
Bistro Magia is currently open for lunch and dinner. The Wilkinses are trying to put together a more lunch-specific menu, and are also looking to begin weekend brunch in January.
The Wilkinses have lived in the Ken-Caryl area for about 30 years and are proud to be independent business owners in South Jeffco.
“Our kids went to school in Ken-Caryl; our grandkids are in school in Ken-Caryl,” Frank Wilkins said. “I guess we’re waiting for our great-grandkids next.”
They also believe that customers searching for a different local dining option are attracted by an independent operation.
“They are more inclined to frequent a place that is independently owned,” Sharon Wilkins said.
And with some of the more adult dining options such as Cuba Libre now out of business, Bistro Magia may provide something else that’s missing.
“We’re filling a much-needed void in the community,” Sharon Wilkins said.
Bistro Magia is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to close Friday and Saturday — which Sharon Wilkins said can be as late as 2 a.m. — and opens at 5 p.m. Sunday.
“It’s been a really interesting experience, all of it,” said Kimberly Wilkins. “I had fun learning.”
Contact Matt Gunn at firstname.lastname@example.org.