The Denver dining dam has officially burst. While new restaurants and bars continue to flood Downtown, RiNo and LoHi, they're also beginning to spread far and wide to once-sleepy neighborhoods like Stapleton, Sloan's Lake and SloHi. They're flowing up, up, up to 20-story rooftops and into air-control towers, down to basement-level spaces. The deluge is reaching Boulder and beyond, so we're counting a few outliers among the projects we're most looking forward to in the coming months. And it extends to spin-offs of existing favorites as well, including WoodGrain Bagels in Lowry, Sushi-Rama in Belleview and The POST Brewing Company in Boulder. Get set for the wave of 26 new openings this fall.
ETA: Early September
You probably guessed it from the whimsical name alone: This ambitious all-day Capitol Hill venue will be every bit the wild wonderland as siblings Beatrice & Woodsley and Mario’s Double Daughters Salotto. Restaurateur Kevin Delk is conjuring the Caribbean for his latest project, serving food that's “very festive, bold, big-portioned, a rockin’ value and super-unusual to the Denver dining scene," he says. Exec chef Travis Messervey describes the menu as the culinary equivalent of calypso music, offering the likes of crispy shark sandwiches, smoked jerk chicken and Trinidadian doubles, a breakfast sandwich of curried chickpeas in fried flatbread. And the space? Behind a grab-and-go cafe with a walk-up window, sliding doors open onto a 6,000-sq.-ft. tropical paradise, filled with skylights, hand-blown glass, colorful murals and lush foliage — not to mention live music. A cocktail bar dispensing island concoctions goes without saying.
Wally's Wisconsin Tavern
ETA: Early September
With regional American foodways receiving newfound respect in the farm-to-table era, even the traditions of the long-overlooked Midwest are getting their due. Good time, then, for the Seattle-based restaurant group behind Rhein Haus to bring this elevated sports bar–meets–Wisconsin lake cottage to LoDo, where the hearty fare of the Great Lakes — butter burgers, fish fries, casseroles and all — will be set against a backdrop of Packers (or Vikings, or Wolverines) football and old-school arcade games.
Courtesy Four Friends Kitchen
ETA: Early September
Well before big-name chefs started moving into Stapleton, two couples — Tim and Genefer Thornton and Kurt and Sarah Pletcher — decided to take the neighborhood’s dearth of dining options into their own hands by opening a cheerfully modern, Southern-inspired daytime joint for the whole family. It’s been such a success that they’re now opening an equally colorful University satellite, where kiddos will be treated to their own menu as well as playthings to keep them occupied — so adults can relax over cocktails and mushroom–sweet potato hash with eggs or root beer BBQ brisket sandwiches.
Courtesy Frasca Food and Wine
Thrilled as Denverites are to have their very own slice of Frasca, owner–master sommelier Bobby Stuckey has kept a different Italian institution in mind as inspiration for his LoDo venture with chef-partner Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson: the legendary Cipriani. “Those guys were so good at hospitality — it wasn’t formal, but it was really crisp,” he says. With that in mind, he and Mackinnon-Patterson have put an ace team in place. Chef de cuisine Ian Wortham has been traveling from Piedmont to Sicily for ideas on the pan-regional menu; Thomas Keller vet Justin Williams will serve as GM; and wine director Carlin Karr, a 30 Under 30 alumna whom Stuckey calls a "superstar," is building the all-Italian cellar. Stuckey’s no less jazzed about the 125-seat space, including the bar (complete with fireplace): “It looks right into the canopies of Union Station,” he says. “You get off the train and you’re staring at it.”
Courtesy Le Méridien Denver Downtown
Corinne and 54thirty
With the grand opening of luxury hotel Le Méridien will come not one but two glam new go-tos. Modernist yet stately signature dining room Corinne (pictured top) will serve New American plates with international influences, while bar and lounge 54thirty (above) pours cocktails on the rooftop — 20 floors above ground — along with snacks to soak them up.
1475 California St.; 303-893-1888
Sweet news from Denver's (and now Dubai's) conjurer of confectionery: Ian Kleinman will reopen his much-missed molecular dessert shop in the fledgling SloHi neighborhood, where he'll have a much bigger stage for his smoking, popping, floating, tongue-twisting creations — one that combines some of the steampunk aesthetic of its predecessor with a living wall and a patio (not to mention underground parking). In addition to his kooky shakes, sundaes, ice cream sandwiches, miracle-fruit tastings and other signature treats, expect a few new curios like the virtual s'mores waffle; Kleinman will also continue to host pop-ups like the monthly Gobblefunk dinner and temporary donut shops.
Tennyson St. & W. 29th Ave.; 303-885-2802
Courtesy bar helix
Charismatic sommelier-about-town Kendra Anderson (aka Swirl Girl) is about to settle down, opening a 75-seat RiNo bar and lounge that will be “sleek, modern, a bit masculine and a lot sexy,” according to her team. As a showcase for some of her favorite libations — bubbly, rosés and Negronis — among other wines, cocktails and beers, it'll also offer small plates for pairing. Follow her on Instagram and see the menu come together in real time (including, perhaps, caviar service?).
Courtesy Hosea Rosenberg
ETA: Late September
Years ago — not long after winning the fifth season of Top Chef and before launching his highly acclaimed Boulder eatery, Blackbelly — Hosea Rosenberg told us that he'd love to open a restaurant inspired by his hometown of Taos, New Mexico, someday. Looks like that day is finally here. Santo will celebrate Southwestern cooking in dishes like stacked blue-corn enchiladas (served Christmas style, of course, with both green and red chile); seasonal variants on queso fundido with fresh tortillas and pepitas; and sweets such as bizcochitos (anise cookies). The central bar will focus on tequila and mezcal as well as beers and wines from our neighbor to the south (note that New Mexico boasts a rapidly growing brewery scene, and it's been known for its sparkling wines for some time now). And the space will reflect the state's famous culture of design, with bold colors and symbols of Mexican and Native American folk art.
1265 Alpine Ave., Boulder; 303-442-6100
ETA: Late September
To date, all of Mike Huggins and Lenka Juchelkova's successes have been inspired by the past — think the post-Prohibition patina of Arvada Tavern, the old world–meets–small town vibe of Kline’s Beer Hall or the sepia tones of Union Lodge No. 1. By contrast, this Berkeley cocktail lounge will be all about the here and now, says Huggins, giving his GM and lead barman Josh Sevy "a lot more room for creativity." Granted, at 900 square feet, Tatarian won't have a lot of room period — but its savvy design will set the stage for experimentation, first and foremost with the use of wood. Huggins explains that the bar's named for a species of maple tree found in the neighborhood, so Sevy's working on various tinctures and bitters that "extract more of the savory bitterness" of barks, herbs and so on.
ETA: Late September
Though the Highlands once overflowed with red sauce, old-school Italian-American parlors and delis are fairly scarce today, leaving an opening for an Ohio-based franchise to come in and give the neighborhood what it's begun to miss dearly. Restaurateur Cameron Mitchell's LoHi arrival aims for the cozy atmosphere of a hill-town trattoria; an affordable all-Italian wine list; and belly-filling, heart-warming dishes like braised beef–four cheese cannelloni and pancetta-potato pizza. Come hungry.
Courtesy Chubby Cattle
ETA: Early October
Denver has a few fine outlets for hot pot these days, but none quite like this one. The second branch of a Vegas phenomenon, it promises all the culinary fun and games you’d expect from the Entertainment Capital of the World thanks to its key feature: a refrigerated conveyor belt to transport food from the kitchen to diners seated around the main counter. Meanwhile, the iPad menu’s as useful as it is amusing, considering there are dozens of ingredients to choose from: beer-braised lamb, live clams, chrysanthemum greens, duck flippers (really!), you name it. Then there are dumplings, skewers, fried rice and more — not to mention a full bar in the 70–80-seat Baker space formerly occupied by The Walnut Room. This will surely be a blast.
Courtesy Punch Bowl Social
ETA: Early October
Robert Thompson’s retro-cool dining, drinking and gaming emporium has become a multistate franchise complete with a celeb chef, Hugh Acheson, for a partner. But it started right here, and now the Baker flagship is spinning off an instant landmark, set in the old Stapleton airport’s control tower. (You bet there will be plenty of room to play outside as well as in.)
Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and Uinta St.; 303-765-2695
The highly acclaimed Sushi Ronin is getting a sibling — which, like most siblings, will be similar but not identical to Corey Baker’s firstborn. In the bi-level space Tengu formerly occupied in RiNo’s Industry building, Izakaya Ronin will house both a dinner-only sushi bar, where the chef-owner's mix of traditional technical mastery and modern creative flourishes will be on full display, and a subterranean izakaya for late-night gathering and grazing. There, Baker's team is working what he calls an "amped-up cocktail menu" with an "esoteric side," as well as a selection of snacks ranging from hand-rolls to yakitori from the binchotan grill to, possibly, an $8 bowl of ramen. Dark and cozy with room for about 40 people, he says, "it'll be a fun bar where you can go down and not spend a fortune." (He's also planning to add a patio down the line.)
Jennifer Olson Photography
From pintxos to petiscos, the small plates of Spain and Portugal will star at Jennifer Jasinski, Beth Gruitch and Jorel Pierce’s tapas bar–inspired locale in Union Station’s Great Hall (just steps away from sibling Stoic & Genuine). The team tapped its Bistro Vendôme chef, Adam Branz, to do the honors in the kitchen, where he’ll prepare dishes both classic and original — perhaps offering prix fixe as well as à la carte menus for those who’d prefer a guided tour of regional items like almond gazpacho and sardine toast. The bar too, will encourage exploration by pouring variations on the standard gin tonic (as they're called overseas) along with sherry flights. Good thing a patio will double the capacity of the mezzanine-lined 50-seat space — small as it is, this place is going to be big.
Courtesy Kyle Foster
Long known as the head butcher and salumaio at Colt & Gray, Kyle Foster is striking out with wife Katy Foster of Stir Cooking School to open this RiNo tribute to his Southern roots. “Respecting tradition" will be a cornerstone of the restaurant, he says, with daytime menus composed of “simple, thoughtful” regional staples and a bar built around domestic whiskey. But come dinner, “I’m hoping to surprise people with food they might not expect." That plan extends to his charcuterie, which he’ll reserve for composed dishes: “I’m trying to get away from the meat and cheese boards you see everywhere else,” he adds. What Foster calls a “sophisticated Southern” design, featuring an expansive mezzanine and patio, will complete the picture.
The name refers to a fantastical hybrid species of monster — the perfect spirit animal for Edwin Zoe's plans for a Pacific Rim spot in the old Sushi Tora space off Boulder's Pearl Street Mall, steps from his flagship Zoe Ma Ma. As he finds that "fusion cuisine often starts from a Western culinary perspective with little regard to Asian culinary sensibilities," Zoe aims to present dishes that are "deeply rooted in their origins." He says, "I want guests who may only have had Westernized or poorly prepared versions of a dish to say 'wow!'" He'll also be creating dishes with a personal bent, all designed to pair with "fun and complex tiki cocktails and elegant chilled sake," in addition to other Asian spirits and beers. As for the decor, Zoe says it will resemble its namesake, comprised of both casual and refined elements. "I jokingly say to friends the atmosphere is 'sexy back!' We’ll see about that."
Courtesy Sustainable Restaurant Group
After a successful trial run at Avanti F&B, the restaurant group behind this Portland purveyor of sustainable sushi is going full-scale with a LoHi shop of its own. If it's anything like the Oregon originals, expect a splashy vibe and inventive fare such as a "lox box" with smoked trout, fried avocado and bagel furikake or grilled mackerel in red-chile oil with pickled mustard-seed "caviar," as well as nigiri, maki and Asian-inspired cocktails. (Meanwhile, Bamboo's replacement at Avanti will be a sibling, Quickfish Poke Bar.)
Only rarely do we go beyond the Front Range to include mountain-town ventures among our openings to watch, but this one’s kinda special: Chef Samir Mohammad, who delights wherever he lands, is finally settling down. In an old Breckenridge two-story space that was run for years as a Chinese restaurant by his own family, he’ll be operating a global comfort kitchen, preparing such eclectic dishes as lamb stroganoff, hominy falafel, Taiwanese fried chicken and waffles, and housemade charcuterie and cheeses as well as daily brunch — which he plans to serve buffet style from cast-iron pans and Dutch ovens on the central family table. The dining room, seating 120, is surrounded by aspen trunks, a fireplace, an open kitchen and a bar that overlooks Main Street, plus a patio adds another 40 or so seats. “There’s really nothing like this in Breck right now,” he says, so put it on your ski-trip itinerary.
Courtesy Zeppelin Development
Having helped turn the national spotlight on RiNo with TAXI and The Source, the visionaries of Zeppelin Development are at it again. The roster of vendors at this mixed-use project on the A Line have yet to be announced, but Kyle Zeppelin says he's looking to create a "multicultural food hall" with a diversity of vendors — including beloved banh mi shop Vinh Xuong Bakery and Italian creamery Fior Gelato — but also levels of service and price points, plus a bar that dispenses juices by day, cocktails by night. (Also coming in the winter from Zeppelin: the game-changing Source Hotel, which will contain a satellite of New Belgium Brewing as well as SMÖK, a barbecue joint by 30 Under 30 alum Bill Espiricueta of Acorn.)
Things just keep getting better for those of us who long bemoaned the dearth of Spanish cuisine on the Front Range. Mixology whiz Bryan Dayton — otherwise known as one half of the celebrated duo behind OAK at fourteenth, Acorn and Brider — has brought chef Amos Watts (ex Old Major) on board for a big, bold Boulder ode to the Basque region, where hearty, rustic steaks, seafood, paellas and more pair with sherry and gin cocktails against the backdrop of the Flatirons.
Epitomizing the rise of the local cider industry, this RiNo pioneer is expanding in a major way. Its Lafayette facility will not only increase production tenfold and sell its wares at retail, but also launch a full-service restaurant centered on a wood-fired grill, in addition to a taproom with a garden and even an orchard.
Vista Business Park, Lafayette
Think of this West Highlands addition as a more casual, low-key Mister Tuna. At F’in Good — to use the less SFW version of the name — Troy Guard (pictured center) and company will turn out a contemporary comfort-food menu with an emphasis on wood-fired dishes. Reflecting the trend of the moment, they’ll also sell packaged items for neighbors on the go.
Courtesy Craig Lieberman
Beckon | Call
Lauded for his work at Frasca Food and Wine, rising-star chef Duncan Holmes now has a new place to call home — or rather homes. Backed by 34 Degrees founder Craig Lieberman, Beckon | Call occupies two tiny, adjacent old RiNo houses that will offer distinctly different environments for Holmes's progressive, eclectic cuisine (he's also overseeing the beverage program, from coffee to cocktails). First up is Call, where retractable stadium seating will fill the space — decked out in smart white-steel elements — for casual daytime dining; come evening, the atmosphere will shift as tables are brought in (supplemented by more on the front patio and in the backyard) and dinner service begins. Beckon — "an intimate, multicourse 17-seat chef's counter," per Holmes — will open next door later. Together, they'll deliver what Lieberman calls a "unique, handcrafted, warm, hospitable and most of all vibrant experience."
Franklin Barbecue alum Karl Fallenius garnered quite the cult following with his smoked meats as a vendor at Finn's Manor, so you can bet his long-awaited brick-and-mortar joint is going to lure the connoisseurs to line up out the door (the space isn't large). Per a recent Facebook update, permits are pending, so news should be coming soon.
Courtesy Grill Concepts
Grill Concepts, the California-based restaurant group behind gastropub Public School 303, is bringing a second eatery to the Union Station area, this one focused on sustainable seafood. Expect an urban take on the breezy coastal fish shack, with a nautical theme, a centerpiece marble bar and a pan-regional menu much like that of its Los Angeles sibling Laurel Point — where lobster rolls, linguine alle vongole, oysters and poke happily coexist.
For its follow-up to El Chingon, uncle/nephew team Lorenzo Nunez and David Lopez aren't restricting their culinary scope to Mexico, as the small-plates menu at this Sloan's Lake spot will run the gamut of Latin cuisines. But not all at once. Rather, Lopez will derive inspiration from a few different countries each season — and the bar will follow suit, letting geography dictate the cocktails and some of the wines. And the 240-seat space may offer as much room for exploration as the food itself, what with a bar, lounge, private mezzanine and wraparound patio in addition to the main dining room.