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20 New Restaurants and Bars to Try in the Denver Area

By Ruth Tobias
August 8, 2014
Photo by: Ruth Tobias

Where should we go to eat tonight? That's the never-ending question on everyone's minds. We're here to help answer it with a roundup of the 20 newcomers you need to know about in and around Denver, listed in order of opening over the past couple of months. Check back every Friday for an up-to-date list.

1) Spruce 
With the tagline “Farm & Fish,” this newcomer to the legendary Hotel Boulderado replaced the long-running Q’s Restaurant on Monday, August 11, with a regularly changing menu emphasizing local produce on the one hand, seafood on the other (including the cornmeal-fried oysters above). ​Here's our preview2115 13th St., Boulder; 303-442-4344

2) The Cooper Lounge
Meanwhile, a brand-new hotel, The Crawford, has unveiled its tony cocktail bar overlooking the new Union Station's Great Hall on one side, LoDo on the other. Marble, silver and plush seating set the elegant mood, while premium spirits and tidbits from Stoic & Genuine prolong it. Learn more here1701 Wynkoop St.; 720-460-3738 

3) Dorchester Social Eatery 
On August 9, this LoDo destination opened its doors to reveal not only a gorgeous lounge and dining room with an English manor-meets-metro nightclub vibe, but also a huge, cabana-lined rooftop deck. To complement the cocktails, wine and beer flowing from both bars, chef Michel Wahaltere has created a free-wheeling menu of small plates that draws inspiration from around the globe. In one visit, you can sample kebabs, ceviche, tagine, tempura, mussels from Wahaltere’s native Belgium and much more, as you’ll see here and here. 1448 Market St.; 303-872-5986  

4) Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs 
The wild game sausages, the outrageous toppings (above), the motorcycle motif: everything you know and love about Jim Pittenger’s carts and Ballpark eatery now awaits at the brand-new Highlands Ranch Town Center location. Take a peek right here. 1601 Mayberry Dr. Ste. 103, Highlands Ranch; 720-344-2100

5) PMG 
In France, pour ma gueule means “for my mouth.” In Boulder, it’s the name of a 60-seat wine bar run by Emily Gold, whose goal is to showcase the most intriguing bottles you may or may not have heard of, paired with French and Italian plates from chef Salvatore Proia, most recently of The Bitter Bar. Here's our opening report. 2018 10th St., Boulder; 303-786-8585

6) Leña
After a fantastic preview tasting, including the chilaquiles pictured at top, we're thrilled that this Latin American-inspired restaurant and bar is now up and running in Baker. Get an overview here, then check it out ASAP. 24 Broadway; 303-832-4840

7) The Nickel
The Hotel Teatro is pulling out all the stops for the launch of this suave modern American eatery run by chef Chris Thompson, formerly of San Francisco's A16. From the chicken-liver mousse (above) and a gold-standard burger to fabulous salads, pastas and barrel-aged cocktails, The Nickel sure looks like a downtown destination in the making1100 14th St.; 720-889-2128

8) Terminal Bar
The gold-and-iron trim, long wall of blue booths and setting in LoDo’s historic Union Station take you back to a dignified era. But dozens of local microbrews on tap, craft cocktails and creative eats from ACME Burger and Brat Corporation, also new to the renovated terminal, plant you squarely in the here and now. Learn more here. 1701 Wynkoop St.; 720-460-3701

9) Berkeley Untapped
The goodwill flows like the booze at this Berkeley watering hole (above). Pouring 10 craft drafts, 24 wines (six by the glass), and what will eventually be about 15 whiskeys, the owners are maintaining a local focus with respect not only to product but also to profit: for every drink you purchase, they give you a wooden token for dropping into one of three charity boxes. At the end of each month, they count them up and donate a quarter per token to the organizations in question. For now, Untapped serves only popcorn and a meat-and-cheese plate, but partner Jay Bombalicki says they're working on a "more substantial" roster of panini and the like; in the meantime, you're welcome to bring in food from neighboring venues such as El Chingon and The Pasty Republic. 4267 Tennyson St.; 303-455-2222

10) The District
This modern American grill in Uptown doesn’t even have an online presence yet. What it does have, however, is a cozy, urbane vibe, a spacious bar that opens onto the already-hopping patio and an eclectic mix of upscale pub grub and composed dinner specials. Among the more intriguing options: Reuben fries, chicken-fried steak sliders with collard greens and country gravy or smoked spaghetti squash over black beans and rice with fried plantains. 1320 17th St.; 303-813-6688

11) Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery 
Longtime Zengo chef Clint Wangsnes has opened his dream project in Park Hill — an airy, modern eatery with quick-casual service but globally influenced gourmet-style grub paired with drinks from the small bar. Think peachwood-smoked pork chops with whipped potatoes and spicy rapini or chicken pastrami, Swiss and slaw on grilled marble rye, plus chopped salads (below), burgers and terrific French onion soup as you’ll see here4990 E. Colfax Ave.; 720-550-7665

12) Bubu 
With “The Fresh Revolution” as its slogan, Bubu is the latest in Troy Guard’s ever-growing restaurant empire. Set in the subterranean Larimer Square space that formerly housed TAG Raw Bar, the quick-casual operation specializes in custom bowls built on local vegetables, grains, proteins and other toppings, washed down with juices from the Pressery and a small selection of adult beverages. Check out our preview here1423 Larimer St.; 303-996-2685

13) Snooze An A.M. Eatery
Everybody’s favorite retro-themed daytime franchise for wacky pancakes in rotating seasonal flavors, myriad Benedicts and killer breakfast cocktails has pulled into Union Station. Though equally colorful, this branch is smaller than the others, so prepare for an even-longer wait. 1701 Wynkoop St.; 303-825-3536

14) Rosenberg’s Bagels and Delicatessen
Smoked fish of all kinds. Pickled herring, chopped liver and matzo-ball soup. And bagels to make many a transplanted New Yorker weep. Josh Pollack has brought it all to his comfy deli in Five Points, adding a few homegrown twists along the way, from green-chile cream cheese to Tender Belly pork products. 725 E. 26th Ave.; 720-440-9880

15) The Kitchen Next Door Union Station
The third branch of Next Door, itself an offshoot of The Kitchen’s ever-growing franchise, has popped up at Union Station in LoDo. If you’ve been to the Boulder original or its Glendale outpost, you know exactly what to expect; if not, here’s a primer on the gastropub — beet burgers, kale chips, craft beers, kegged cocktails and all. That's the pulled-pork sandwich above. 1701 Wynkoop St.; 303-623-3127

16) Homegrown Tap & Dough
Park Burger founder Jean-Philippe Failyau has staked out new territory both geographical and culinary with this Wash Park pizzeria and tavern. The menu, of course, is centered on pies — eight in all, from the namesake signature with white sauce, Gorgonzola, pancetta and walnuts to the Wash Park with ricotta, zucchini and chile flakes on a roasted-garlic base. In addition, the kitchen’s turning out several housemade pastas (including rigatoni Bolognese), salads and appetizers like sausage-stuffed olives and steamed mussels. As the name suggests, craft beer is central to the bar program, with large-format finds rounding out the local favorites: Dry Dock Apricot Blonde on the one hand, Jolly Pumpkin Madrugada Obscura on the other. There’s also a good-sized wine list emphasizing West Coast and Italian pours — and a great patio to enjoy them on. 1001 S. Gaylord Ave.; 720-459-8736

17) Table Top 
At this Park Hill neighborhood eatery, chef Brady Marcotte, who worked with Steven Redzikowski at Acorn and OAK at fourteenth, is turning out the likes of grilled cauliflower “popcorn” with curried almonds and smoked garlic oil; smoked pork loin with red beans and apple jam; and olive oil cake with roasted nectarines and sour-cream sorbet in a warm yet low-key dining room whose craft bar puts the spotlight on an eclectic selection of beers via a list categorized by style and notated like a wine list. 2230 Oneida St.; 720-542-9035

18) Prost Fine Beers and Sausages
Complete with a shady biergarten in back, this little pub (above) is bringing a whole lot of Bavarian-style charm to Highlands Square. Serving up a dozen brats, wursts and the like sourced from Austria as well as Denver's own Continental Sausage — think käsekrainer on the one hand, pheasant-mushroom sausage on the other — the kitchen also turns out pretzels, traditional German salads and apple strudel, while the bar fills its 10 rotating taps with ales from Belgium as well as the motherland, supplementing them with about 20 bottle beers and a handful of cocktails and wines. Come between 11:30 AM and 4 PM for the lunch special — a beer and a brat for $10 even. 3464 W. 32nd Ave.; 303-455-9012

19) Cart-Driver
It's a tight squeeze but well worth the effort to cram yourself into the tiny RiNo shipping container that houses this ultra-cool, Euro-inspired sibling of Boulder's Basta. Order your market-driven pizza and oysters, crudos and cocktails at the entrance, then prepare to mingle with your neighbors while you wait: it's all about breezy conviviality here. Oh, and horseradish biscuits — lots and lots of biscuits. 2500 Larimer St.; 303-292-3553

20) Stoic & Genuine
Making one of the year's biggest splashes, this seafood-centric destination at Union Station from the team behind Rioja, Bistro Vendôme and Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen is as glam as they come, with soaring ceilings, granita and raw bars that yield oyster platters like the one below, and an open kitchen that turns out some of the best plates we've had this year — including mussel soup, caviar on vichyssoise cubes and spatchcock, of all things. 1701 Wynkoop St.; 303-640-3474

Photos by Ruth Tobias, Christopher Cina (Biker Jim's), Ashley Davis Tilly (The Kitchen Next Door), Mark Piscotty (Stoic & Genuine)

Places Mentioned

Argyll Whisky Beer, A Gastropub

Gastropub • Uptown

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Salt & Grinder

West Highland

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Sassafras American Eatery Capitol Hill

Southern American • Capitol Hill

Food- Decor- Service- Cost 
 
 
 
Kobe An Shabu Shabu

Japanese • LoHi

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Stoic & Genuine

Seafood • LoDo

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Cart-Driver

Pizza • River North Art District

Food- Decor- Service- CostI
 
 
 
Acorn

Eclectic • River North Art District

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
OAK at fourteenth

American • Boulder

Food27 Decor25 Service27 Cost$47
 
 
 
Park Burger

Burger • Hilltop

Food26 Decor19 Service22 Cost 
 
 
 
Park Burger

Burger • Platt Park

Food26 Decor19 Service22 Cost$16
 
 
 
Park Burger Highlands

Burger • West Highland

Food26 Decor19 Service22 Cost$16
 
 
 
Homegrown Tap & Dough

Italian • Washington Park

Food- Decor- Service- CostI
 
 
 
The Kitchen Next Door

American • LoDo

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
The Kitchen Next Door

American • Belcaro

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Kitchen Next Door

American • Boulder

Food26 Decor23 Service25 Cost$39
 
 
 
Snooze An A.M. Eatery

Breakfast • LoDo

Food27 Decor26 Service25 CostI
 
 
 
Bubu

Health Food • Central Business District

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery

American • Hale

Food- Decor- Service- CostI
 
 
 
Zengo

Asian • LoDo

Food25 Decor25 Service23 Cost$39
 
 
 
Prohibition

Bar • Capitol Hill

Atmo.24 Decor24 Service22 CostM
 
 
 
Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs

Hot Dog • Ballpark

Food27 Decor20 Service24 Cost$11
 
 
 
The Bitter Bar

Boulder

Food23 Decor25 Service21 Cost$27
 
 
 
 
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