After a summer of what seemed to be near-daily restaurant openings, Denverites could hardly expect a bumper crop of fall arrivals. But we appear to be getting one anyway. Here are some we're looking especially forward to. (And let's not forget Dae Gee, which we reported on here, or Cho77 either, slated for December/January.)
The Gist: Last Friday, Eater confirmed the rumors of a new, retro-toned Uptown project from the folks behind Ballpark's beloved Star Bar. As excited as we were to read about the midcentury-inspired American menu designed by Jensen Cummings (meatloaf Wellington? Fried bologna? We're in!), we just had to reach out to Star Bar's operations go-to (and 30 Under 30 honoree) Alexandra Geppert for details on the booze. In her words, "At our main bar as well as the back patio bar, we’ll cover all the bases, but in our own way. Very few 'big brands' and no fluff — just the good stuff.” That includes 30 taps with a Colorado focus, plus more beers by the can, and a seasonal wine list she calls "interesting, fun and accessible, but unpredictable." Of course, it also includes a cocktail selection that, according to Geppert, "will have its roots in the classics from different eras, with playfulness as a defining component, from classic stirred libations to draft cocktails, boozecicles and sno-cones."
ETA: Late August
The Gist: Chef Biju Thomas has made a name for himself in professional sports circles, but his upcoming RiNo venture has nothing to do with his training-centric Food Zone cookbook series. Rather, the quick-casual eatery will center on the cuisine of Thomas's native India, specifically “the more tropical southern regions,” he says. “We cook with a whole host of fresh herbs and spices, so the colors and textures are much brighter and livelier, without the heaviness of Northern Indian cuisine, which is made with dairy, butter and loads of cream.” Examples include Kerala-style garlic beef and the steamed rice cakes called idli, joined by a small selection of wine and both local and Indian beers as well as housemade ginger ale, salty lemonade and chai.
ETA: Mid-late September
Lucky Malone Photography
The Gist: Since winning Top Chef back in 2009, Hosea Rosenberg has launched both a farm and an acclaimed catering company. But he’d always planned to open a restaurant and market as well — and at long last, he’s doing just that. On the retail side, he’ll offer cuts of meat from Blackbelly and other local farms as well as charcuterie like that pictured above, gourmet pantry sundries and grab-and-go deli fare, while the dining room will reflect his penchant for creative contemporary cuisine driven by seasonal produce and accompanied by local beers and craft cocktails. Initially, the space Rosenberg calls “modern-industrial meets old-school butcher shop” will be open for lunch and dinner only, but “as soon as we can, we are going to be slinging eggs” for breakfast too.
ETA: Late September/early October
The Gist: He’s brought us a French brasserie (the now-closed Le Grand), a U.K.-inspired gastropub (Argyll Whisky Beer) and a good old American bowling alley, arcade and bar and grill (Punch Bowl Social). Now Seasoned Development restaurateur Robert Thompson is tackling German tradition with Griffin. Located in RiNo’s INDUSTRY complex, the OZ Architecture-designed space (below) will combine rustic and industrial elements to create a modern beer hall and garden where cicerone Ryan Conklin will oversee some 40 taps to showcase both old and new world, historical and experimental styles, from lager and kölsch to rauchbier and Gose. Spirits will also skew European (think amari and schnapps), while chef John Broening’s menu juxtaposes the expected schnitzel and sausage dishes with Scandinavian seafood and Turkish snacks, followed by classic desserts like Sachertorte.
ETA: Early December
The Gist: With his Fruition sous-chef-turned-partner (and 30 Under 30 honoree) Matthew Vawter, Alex Seidel is now just days away from unveiling the much-awaited Union Station restaurant, full bar and all-day market he detailed in our preview of 2014’s most anticipated openings. In the interim, he’ll be announcing the key players who, he says, are “taking ownership” of the ambitious project’s many moving parts. There’s wine director Patrick Houghton, for instance, who’s building an eclectic, globe-spanning library of about 60 bottles, while Eric Borg manages the craft-beer list. Pastry chef Lonne Cunningham has set about perfecting the market’s daily viennoiseries. And Seidel’s even bringing in a barista to oversee the coffee program, right down to tastings and pairings. “Nothing’s going overlooked, because each element complements the other,” he says of the concept, blending European tradition and modern American artisanship in a way that’s “based on fine dining, but approachable and fun, in a vibrant and lively space with high ceilings and bright, warm colors.”
ETA: September 8
The Gist: Sad as we are to bid farewell to twelve (at least for now), our anticipation over chef-owner Jeff Osaka’s upcoming RiNo noodle joint, a neighbor to Biju’s, is delicious in itself. The 70-seat subterranean kitchen will specialize in ramen, including superb tonkotsu, supplemented by Japanese small plates, sake and beer. Get a complete overview here.
The Gist: Named for the original occupants of its century-old home in Parker — which owner Brent Walker has been meticulously restoring to reflect its history — this upscale neighborhood eatery and craft-bar finds long-recognized chef Duy Pham back in the kitchen, using his trademark mix of both classical and modernist techniques to create a menu of shared, family-style and traditional plates based on local, seasonal ingredients.
ETA: Mid-September at last estimate
The Gist: Unlike the full-service, Neapolitan-inspired Locale flagship in Boulder, Frasca's Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson famously joined forces with Chipotle to bring Denver its first fast-casual variation on the theme last year. Now the Highlands Square follow-up is well on its way to becoming a reality — pizza margherita, vino on tap, butterscotch budino and all.
The Gist: From pizza and fresh pasta to cicchetti (pictured above), rotisserie meats and grab-and-go panini, chef Brian Laird will be doing it all at this modern Italian eatery and market in Jefferson Park. Expect regional specialties like those he discussed with us last November to complement a core wine list of about 40 bottles, supplemented by 10 or so reserves; additionally, says partner Taylor Swallow, “we’ll keep our beer list simple and straightforward, similar to what you’d see at a restaurant in Italy. And our cocktail list will also be authentic to the Italian experience.”
ETA: “We are getting very close,” Swallow promises. “While we’ve avoided announcing an opening date, I would say will are still on track to open near the end of summer — albeit possibly an Indian summer.”
The Gist: Having spent his career working under such legends as Jeremiah Tower and Wolfgang Puck, chef Mark Ferguson is now striking out on his own, joined by wife-partner Andrea Ferguson, with a globally influenced contemporary eatery in the lovely double Victorian that formerly housed Highland’s Garden Cafe (rendering below). Back in January, we got the full scoop on their plans for the daily updated menu, full bar, refreshed 154-seat interior and 66-seat garden patio, which haven’t changed despite construction delays.
ETA: Late November
The Gist: Though Troy Guard is a partner in this Sunnyside purveyor of burgers, craft beer and booze-spiked milkshakes, it’s neither part of the TAG Restaurant Group nor a carbon copy of TAG Burger Bar. In fact, he’s designed an all-new menu for the colorful, quick-casual spot, where options will range from the Hippy Dippy with goat cheese, roasted beets, arugula and basil aïoli to the Paleo Caveman with quinoa, avocado, kale and almonds. To wash it all down, try the Devil Inside, which blends vodka, vanilla ice cream and chunks of devil’s food cake.
ETA: September 8
The Gist: Everything you love about the sprawling Ballpark party palace — the rooftop, the cabanas, the lawn games, the panoramic views, the myriad TVs for game day — will be on display at the soon-to-open DTC branch. But ViewHouse the sequel will take a more upscale approach to food, with a quieter dedicated dining room and a menu by chef Jose Guerrero that features the likes of crab cakes with harissa aïoli, wood-fired steaks and flatbreads topped with mascarpone, peaches and basil.
ETA: August 29
The Gist: Edwin Zoe’s super-cute Chinese comfort-food kitchen is getting a Denver sibling. Housed in the LoDo development next to Union Station, it’s bigger than the original, so while the menu will remain much the same — hooray for potstickers, pork buns, duck wonton soup and za jiang mian (above) — Zoe’s taking advantage of the extra space to install a bar he’s calling the Orient Espresso. There, you can sip not only European- and Asian-style coffee and tea drinks but also wine, beer and cocktails while overlooking the train platform. “It will be a lot fun for people to hang out,” Zoe promises.
ETA: Late September/early October