By Ersin Ozer Explore Big Sky Staff Writer

BIG SKY – Locals, visitors and second-home owners have been flocking to a new “cantina y cocina” in Big Sky that opened July 16. Located in the heart of Big Sky Town Center, Alberto’s Authentic Mexican Cuisine has been hopping this summer, especially during community events that have provided healthy exposure for the restaurant.

Since Brenda and Alberto Godoy moved their family to Big Sky from St. Anthony, Idaho six years ago, they dreamt of opening a Mexican restaurant in the community.

When El Patron – the Mexican restaurant that previously occupied the same building as Alberto’s – closed last winter and the space became available, they knew it was time to act and together they created a business plan. They remodeled, brought in new booths, painted, and added lighting to accentuate the dining atmosphere.

According to Brenda, the community has responded. “[We’ve had] lot’s of support from locals,” she said.

Together, Brenda and Alberto work hard as small business owners, with Brenda managing the front of house and Alberto overseeing the kitchen.

From pork tacos to authentic mole enchiladas, Alberto’s serves up an array of flavorful dishes with an impressive drink menu to complement them. Most of the dishes Alberto prepares are recipes from his native Mexico City, reminiscent of comfort food with fresh ingredients.

“We’re still playing with the menu,” Alberto said. “Right now it’s recipes from when I was a little kid.” He added that he wants to “conquer” the palettes of his customers, and establish the restaurant as a long-term favorite in the community. “I like to make people smile with my food.”

Since the grand opening, Alberto’s has provided jobs for more than 20 local residents including Alberto and Brenda’s two children, now 12 and 16 years old.

“I’m doing this for them,” Alberto said. “I want to retire here. I love Big Sky.”

The couple plans to keep the restaurant open through most of the offseason, but will close for the month of November.

“Something that we’ve been talking about is staying open late for people that are hungry after 10 [p.m.],” Brenda said, noting the area employs a lot of seasonal workers who work late hours.

On evenings when the weather is nice through much of September, Alberto’s will take reservations for its outside patio with expansive views of Lone Mountain and the Spanish Peaks.

Try the house-made guacamole or ceviche to start. The guacamole has a slight kick that will make you want to dip the next chip even as you finish your first bite. Alberto simmers the shrimp used in the Ceviche, and adds lime and cucumber for an authentic taste.

“Everyone has their own way to make it, [but] I don’t like the shrimp raw,” Alberto said.

The Godoys say business has been steady this summer, especially on Wednesdays and Thursdays when Music in the Mountains and Big Sky Farmers Markets brought crowds to Town Center.

“The Carne Asada is selling quite a bit,” said Brenda. The meat is grilled and topped with roasted jalapeños and green onions, giving it a smoky flavor.

The Mole Enchiladas are served four on a plate and topped with a creamy mole sauce, sour cream, and queso – the perfect balance of sugar and spice. They go down quick and are best enjoyed with Alberto’s signature jalapeño-infused margarita called “El Matador.”

Finish off your dining experience with sopapillas for the ultimate meal. These deep fried, sugar-coated flour tortilla triangles are topped with honey and whipped cream.

Menu prices are affordable on a ski or trout bum budget, and Alberto says that was a conscious effort to get people in the door and try their food.

“I don’t want to get rich now,” Alberto said, and Brenda completed the sentiment.

“We just want people to taste good food,” she said.

Alberto’s is currently open for dinner from 5-9 p.m. during the week (closed Tuesdays) and until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, while the bar stays open later depending on the crowd. Alberto’s patio will be open as long as weather permits.