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Luis Valdovinos found Bozeman through a road trip he took last year, going from New Mexico to Montana and back down along the West Coast. Of all the stops, Bozeman was his favorite, he said.

The chef and restauranteur, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was looking for a place to put down roots and enjoyed the vibrancy and outdoor recreation opportunities of the college town.

After his road trip he looked up restaurant spaces in Bozeman and saw a downtown spot.

“I put in an offer and the rest is history,” he said.

His new restaurant serves “elevated” Baja-style Mexican cuisine using local, fresh ingredients.

Last Call Modern Mexican, on 19 S. Willson Avenue, is open from 4:06 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. It had a soft opening in July.

A grand opening is planned for Sept. 23. Valdovinos is planning on having more menu options, including entrees, and a tasting menu.

Valdovinos describes his restaurant as elevated Mexican cuisine rooted in Baja Mexican culture. Valdovinos moved to Bozeman in October from Albuquerque but grew up in San Diego.

The recipes reflect food he grew up eating and dishes he makes for himself at home.

Last Call Mexican Restaurant

Chef Luis Valdovinos holds a serving of ceviche at Last Call Modern Mexican on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021. Last Call has been soft open since mid-July.

“The things I’m putting on the menu are things that I’ve always wanted to do, like making from-scratch corn tortillas is a dream come true for me,” he said. “It’s my dream concept.”

In Albuquerque, Valdovinos operates a fast-casual version of this restaurant called Last Call Mexican Eatery. He had two other locations of Last Call Mexican Eatery that closed in 2020 due to the pandemic.

He’s also opened two food trucks in New Mexico.

Valdovinos has taken the few months of soft opening, with a limited menu, to gauge Bozeman’s tastes, what locals enjoy most and what’s missing from Bozeman’s eatery scene.

So far, his birria tacos, braised pork tacos served with broth, are the biggest hit.

“We use 22 ingredients and it take 10 hours for prep time and braising. It uses three different techniques, some French and some old-world techniques from Mexico that were passed down through family,” he said.

Ingredients are sourced locally whenever possible, he said, but the seafood is flown in from Seattle.

“My philosophy on food — it’s one of the only things in the world that you can serve to somebody and it becomes a part of their body,” he said. “The ingredients and the energy I put into what I’m doing is really important because it’ll ultimately become a part of someone that’s visiting my restaurant.”

Last Call Mexican Restaurant

Luis Valdovinos, owner and chef at Last Call Modern Mexican sets out pillows on bench seating before opening on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021. Last Call has been soft open since mid-July.

He works with a supplier to get blue heirloom corn direct from Mexico for his hand pressed tortillas.

“I don’t trust anybody to make my tortillas, I make them myself,” he said.

After celebrating a grand opening, he hopes to have a rotating menu, depending on what local ingredients are in season.

“We don’t want to be the same thing every week. It’ll be consistent in execution but not on what we do on a weekly basis,” he said.

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Juliana Sukut can be reached at 582-2630 or jsukut@dailychronicle.com

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