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Manuelitas Restaurant – Raw Oysters at 10,152 Feet

Regional Restaurant Review

by C.C. staff

311 Harrison Street
Leadville, CO 80461

Manuelitas Restaurant in Leadville has been serving traditional Mexican and seafood dishes for nine years. Although miles above and away from the ocean, the seafood dishes are especially unique – prepared and seasoned in a style commonly found along the sunny beaches of Mexico.

Manuelitas Restaurant
Manuelitas Restaurant

Originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, owner Federico Montes has been cooking all his life. He and his wife Anjelica opened the restaurant in 2000 and decided to offer seafood along with traditional Mexican dishes, as there was no other place serving it in town.

The reviewers have enjoyed their raw oysters on the half shell on a number of occasions; after watching dog sled races or during the ski jour event, often just for the novelty of sitting in the window watching the snow fall and being able to enjoy sumptuous bivalves with a squeeze of lime and a cold cerveza.

The complimentary chips served with a modestly spicy red salsa are flour which have been fried and are pretty addicting in themselves.

The food platters are good sized, although the tacos, though tasty, are smaller than many Americans might be accustomed to. Platters run about $8.50 to $13.99. On our last visit we sampled one each of the fish, chicken and beef tacos, each with its own unique sauce and flavor, served on soft flour tortillas. Pork tamales with cheese and salsa are a nice, filling choice. We especially liked the Seafood Mix soup which had a flavorful combination of shrimp, whitefish, octopus (yes, octopus), chile seasoning, lime, celery, carrots, cilantro and spices.

The mixed seafood soup.
The mixed seafood soup.

Traditional items such as fajitas and burritos are available à la carte or as a platter including rice, beans, chips and salsa. The more adventurous might want to try the Red Snapper Fillet Veracruz Style (Filete Huachinango a la Veracruzana), the Shrimp Brochettes (Brochetas de Camaron), the Grilled Octopus (Pulpo a la Plancha) or, of course, a half or full dozen raw oysters served on ice with a generous portion of lime.

Manuelitas (named after the owner’s grandmother) serves beer and margaritas as well as soft drinks. On our last visit we split a horacho, a sweet rice drink served with ice.

There is also a small Mexican grocery in the back of the restaurant carrying items such as dried chiles and spices, Mexican canned goods, sauces, dried fish and fresh meats. Federico might even help you navigate these exotic wares if he’s not busy cooking.

They are located at 311 Harrison Street and are open from 10AM to 9PM, seven days a week. They can be reached at 719-486-0292. They even have a website featuring a traditional Mexican tune when you log on –

There is also a Manuelitas Restaurant in Gypsum, run by Federico’s sister, Ana.