Denver 30 Under 30: The Restaurants

Where to find our culinary rock stars in action
July 31, 2014
by Patty Lee

Now that you've gotten to know our inaugural batch of Denver 30 Under 30 honorees, here's where to see them in action. Use our handy Google map to find their restaurants and bars and check out the Zagat ratings and reviews in the slide show below before you go.

Root Down

Food: 27
Decor: 25
Service: 24
Cost: $36

From chef-owner Justin Cucci's "adventurous", "farm-fresh" American "small plates" that "won't cost an arm and a leg" to a staff that "bends over backwards" to the "clever setting" in a "converted filling station", "everything is done extremely well" at this "high-energy", "vegetarian-friendly" LoHi hall of "hippiedom"; it's no wonder you'll need to "reserve way ahead"; P.S. there's a newer offshoot in Denver International Airport's Terminal C.

1600 West 33rd Ave.; 303-993-4200


Food: 26
Decor: 27
Service: 25
Cost: $35

There's nothing "macabre" about this "old mortuary" turned "hip", "hopping" eatery in LoHi, where "you'll definitely want to linger" either downstairs or on the "fantastic rooftop" lounge boasting "phenomenal city views" and a Lite-Brite bar; also "wonderful" are Justin Cucci's "outrageously delish" Eclectic small plates, "personable" service and a happy hour that's "lively" enough "to wake the dead."

2030 West 30th Ave.; 303-993-3120

Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant

Food: 27
Decor: 26
Service: 24
Cost: $24

"Inventive" "new ideas" on "high-quality veggie fare" at "decent prices" earn "exceptional" reviews from vegetarian votaries of this "calm and relaxing" "little gem" in Boulder, though "meat eaters" and other "doubters give two thumbs up as well"; the "well-trained staff" is also "super-flexible in accommodating" all types, including the gluten intolerant, while "knowledgeably pairing the many organic and biodynamic options from the wine list."

2010 16th St.; 303-442-1485

The Truffle Cheese Shop

Food: 28
Decor: 26
Service: 27

"Incredibly thoughtful assortments" of "beautiful" "curated cheeses" (even some you've "never heard of") plus charcuterie and "wonderful packaged goods from around the world" help this Cherry Creek fromagerie "stand apart" from its peers; so do the "terrific" staffers who "know their stuff and aren't shy about sharing it" through "fabulous educational trips and classes."

2906 E. 6th Ave.; 303-322-7363

twelve Restaurant

Food: 28
Decor: 23
Service: 27
Cost: $51

The "menu changes every month", but "astounding gourmet" chef Jeff Osaka's New American fare is always "sublime and refined" at his "tiny" Ballpark eatery whose setting brims with "old-world charm"; "spot-on service", "great wines by the glass" and a "classic oak bar" are more reasons why fans "want to return often."

2233 Larimer St.; 303-293-0287

DiFranco's Italian

With just one communal table and a few additional seats, this tiny, unpretentious Italian cafe and deli in the Capitol Hill garners great buzz for its simple, lovingly crafted salads, sandwiches and pastas, all featuring local ingredients and prepared in an open kitchen behind the order counter. There's also a small selection of beer, wine and baked goods, while to-go products like eggs and milk from area farmers complete the homey experience.

955 Lincoln St.; 720-253-1244

Old Major

With a rustic feel, an open kitchen and an in-house butchery program, this LoHi smash hit from chef Justin Brunson (also of Masterpiece Deli) delivers farm-to-fork fare with innovative New American flair alongside craft cocktails and a boutique wine list presented on an iPad.

3316 Tejon St.; 720-420-0622

Wynkoop Brewing Company

This LoDo pioneer was one of Colorado's first microbreweries, and it's still going like gangbusters today. Making beers with everything from green chile to Rocky Mountain oysters, the comfy, sprawling institution is many a visiting politician's first stop — Governor John Hickenlooper was a founding partner, after all — as well as a locals' standby for pub grub as well as Railyard Ale and other old favorites.   

1634 18th St.; 303-297-2700


The team behind Boulder's OAK at Fourteenth created a citywide stir when they opened this gritty-chic New American small plates specialist in The Source urban marketplace.

3350 Brighton Blvd.; 720-542-3721

OAK at fourteenth

Food: 27
Decor: 25
Service: 27
Cost: $47

"Super-fab", "complex" New American dishes are conjured from "fresh, locally sourced ingredients" by "impressive" "trained pros" in the "open kitchen" of this "pricey" Boulder "fave" (making a "comeback after a devastating fire" last year); equally "fun to watch" are the bartenders "hand-sculpting giant balls of ice" for the "incredible" cocktails, which go down well in its "low-key but elegant and hip" environs.

1400 Pearl St.; 303-444-3622

Star Bar

This longtime haunt (since 1959) in the heart of Ballpark features an incredible selection of beers on tap and a robust craft spirits selection, all served by knowledgeable barkeeps. Skee-Ball and a back patio add to its allure.

2137 Larimer St.; 720-328-2420

Former Future Brewing Company

Historical recipes, innovative results: that’s the gist of this Platt Park craft brewery, whose hip, spacious taproom boasts a bar built from an old airplane wing. Try a Brettanomyces-fermented farmhouse ale one moment, a chocolate-milk stout the next; feel free to bring in eats from any number of neighborhood joints; and don’t hesitate to drag your dog along.

1290 S. Broadway; 720-441-4253

The Proper Pour

The savvy owners of this liquor shop at RiNo's epicurean marketplace The Source carefully curate their selection of craft beers, small-batch spirits and mixers, and boutique wines from Colorado and the world beyond with the budding connoisseur in mind, while stocking all the tools a home-bartending geek could ask for.  

The Source, 3350 Brighton Blvd.

Frasca Food & Wine

Food: 28
Decor: 25
Service: 28
Cost: $80

"Sublime in every way", this Boulder "must" "lives up to the hype" thanks to Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson's "exceptional" Northern Italian prix fixe menu (à la carte also available), which is "perfectly paired" with "informed, articulate sommelier" Bobby Stuckey's "spectacular" wines; a staff that has "hospitality down to a science" and "minimalist modern" decor only add to its appeal, and though "long lead times for reservations" and "exorbitant prices" are part of the deal, most deem it "well worth the wait" and expense for such a "transformative experience."

1738 Pearl St.; 303-442-6966

Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar Glendale

"Creative fish cookery" and a "flawless raw bar" gleaming with "meaty oysters" (discounted during the "awesome happy hour") reel in "convivial" crowds to these "perennial-favorite" seafooders; though some cite "fin-to-fin" seating and acoustics that require "earmuffs", most agree the "energetic" vibe – aided by "smart service" – is always a "blast."

650 S. Colorado Blvd.; 303-756-6449

Harman's eat & drink

From the mezzanine to the central bar to the patio, Mark Fischer's expansive, mod Cherry Creek venue is teeming with devoted fans, including everyone from the ladies who lunch to mixology-obsessed hipsters. The menu features contemporary, farm-sourced, seasonal plates, with plenty of gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian options available.

2900 E. Second Ave.; 303-388-7428

Happy Leaf Kombucha

This artsy kombucha brewery and taproom in RiNo presents an ever-changing lineup of the fermented, tea-based elixir on everybody's lips, from cranberry-lavender to dry-hopped prickly pear. The owners also support local painters and musicians with regular receptions.

3519 Brighton Blvd.; 720-708-4954

Central Bistro & Bar

Striking surroundings highlighted by handcrafted metal work, a dazzling tin ceiling and an open kitchen illuminated by a neon red ‘HOT' sign provide a smashing backdrop for chef Lance Barto's seasonal American fare at this expensive newcomer in LoHi; both the dining room and the rollicking bar lure the trendy set, who also congregate on the spacious patio that peers over the Downtown cityscape.

1691 Central St.; 303-477-4582

Olive & Finch

Inventive breakfast hashes, lovingly crafted sandwiches (including the signature beef tongue) and all manner of baked-daily pastries, plus espresso, fresh juices and a tidy selection of beer and wine, fuel patrons of Parallel 17 chef-owner Mary Nguyen's morning-to-night cafe in City Park West. French antiques and a wooden community table create a warm, lived-in look, and there's a deli case up front packed with an array of to-go salads and market specials.

1552 E. 17th Ave.; 303-832-8663


Classic, affordable European bistro fare stars at Mary Nguyen's "modestly priced" neighborhood bistro on the Uptown/City Park West divide, as does "quick", "casual" service that "aims to please"; the modern, light-filled dining room is on the "intimate" side, while the "wraparound patio" lends itself to "sitting with friends" and sampling diverse wines or "inventive" craft cocktails.​

1600 E. 17th Ave.; 303-399-0988

Street Kitchen Asian Bistro

Food: 24
Decor: 22
Service: 23
Cost: $28

"High in creativity and quality", the "incredible variety" of moderately priced "eclectic" Asian dishes ("Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysian" and more) at this "interesting" Englewood "treat" are "hard to find elsewhere in Denver"; augmented by a "pleasant", "helpful" staff and a sleek dining room with modern fixtures, regulars "go there every chance they get", even if "they also deliver" to the area.

10111 Inverness Main St.; 303-799-9800


Acclaimed husband-and-wife team John Broening and Yasmin Lozada-Hissom (formerly of Duo and the now-closed Olivéa) runs this charmingly low-key Italian cafe in West Highland, where the handcrafted repertoire runs from salumi and seasonal pastas to lusty desserts with gelato churned daily. Boutique wines from the full bar are more diverse than you'd expect from such snug and casual environs.

2639 W. 32nd Ave.; 303-433-0949

Flagstaff House

Food: 27
Decor: 28
Service: 27
Cost: $75

"Spectacular views of Boulder" from this "extravagant", "window-encased" "trademark of fine dining" atop Flagstaff Mountain set the stage for "imaginative", "exquisite" American cuisine and "wine selections that take your breath away" – all of which are delivered by "masterful" servers; a few bristle at the "over-the-top prices" and "by-gone" surroundings, but most agree it's "worth every penny spent and curve negotiated to get there."

1138 Flagstaff Rd.; 303-442-4640


Food: 26
Decor: 24
Service: 25
Cost: $45

Chef Elise Wiggins "deserves all the praise heaped on her" fawn fans of the "scrumptious", "innovative" and "reasonably priced" Northern Italian fare (featuring "superb" freshly baked breads) she whips up at this "casually elegant" Downtown "jewel" in the "trendy Hotel Monaco"; a "polite" staff "puts the meal over the top", and "not-to-be-missed" happy-hour "bargains" only add to the "pleasure."

909 17th St.; 303-296-3525

Lower48 Kitchen

High ceilings and minimalist decor frame a glowing exhibition kitchen at this Ballpark New American hitting all the current buzzwords (artisanal, heirloom, heritage) in its artistically presented eats. Small plates of two or three bites are the hot spot's primary focus, and the well-trained servers are adept at offering wine-pairing suggestions.

2020A Lawrence St.; 303-942-0262

EDGE Restaurant & Bar

Food: 25
Decor: 25
Service: 25
Cost: $42

"Every bite is better than the last" rave fans of this "high-end steakhouse" in Downtown's Four Seasons that wins a "huge thumbs-up" thanks to "well-prepared entrees", strong service and a "relaxing" "upscale setting"; it's not cheap, but the "beautiful people" don't mind, especially since the "classy bar scene" helps give it a further edge over the competition.

1111 14th St.; 303-389-3343

Stoic & Genuine

From the James Beard Award–winning team behind Rioja, Bistro Vendôme and Euclid Hall, this seafooder is making a major splash at the historic Union Station redevelopment in LoDo. In a long, narrow, high-ceilinged space dominated by an open kitchen, a raw bar and a granita bar – not to mention a colorful octopus mural – expect a slew of sparkling creations like uni crudo and caviar on vichyssoise cubes as well all the coastal classics from fried clams to lobster rolls.

1701 Wynkoop St.; 303-640-3474

Guard and Grace

Troy Guard's take on the classic Downtown steakhouse caters to 21st-century movers and shakers with an airy, suavely modern design and a menu that emphasizes globally inspired small plates (crudos, sashimi, flatbreads, fresh pastas) and craft cocktails as much as supersized chops and trophy Cabs. An entrance lounge flanked by a glassed-in wine tower and a sprawling patio keep the energy high from lunchtime onward.​

1801 California St.; 303-293-8500

beast + bottle

The simple, off-white interior of this Uptown splash acts as a canvas for chef/co-owner Paul C. Reilly's painterly, seasonal, farmhouse-inspired New American cuisine. In the same vein, the three-sided bar acts as a showcase for unusual wine varietals and intricate cocktails.

719 East 17th Ave.; 303-623-3223


Food: 28
Decor: 23
Service: 28
Cost: $60

"Culinary genius" Frank Bonanno's "polished" New American cuisine, "designed to let the beautiful tastes and colors" of the "outstanding ingredients" "shine" through, makes fans of this Capitol Hill "masterpiece" "dizzy with glee"; sure, its "prices aren't for the parsimonious" and the seating is "cheek by jowl" in its "intimate" confines, but with an "impeccable" floor team and a "stunning" wine list, it'll still "sweep a first date off [their] feet."

225 E. Seventh Ave.; 303-832-4778

Mercantile Dining & Provision

With famed Fruition chef-owner Alex Seidel and his partner Matthew Vawter running the show, this contemporary farm-to-table restaurant, bar and market in LoDo's newly renovated Union Station is shaping up to be one of 2014's biggest openings come late summer.  

1701 Wynkoop St. #155; 720-460-3733

denver 30 under 30