Just when you think Denver's dining scene can't grow any faster, an avalanche of openings rumbles your way. These surefire hot spots will be rolling out from summer's end through winter's onset, so get ready for one loooong restaurant crawl.
Courtesy Root PR
From The Squeaky Bean co-owner and all-around party starter Johnny Ballen comes this idiosyncratic spin on the humble taqueria. With a funky retro look inspired by its location in a midcentury Englewood gas station, the 60-seat Mexican spot will specialize in tacos both classic and creative, though pork will play a special part (hence the name, which means pig); the bar program follows suit with potent margaritas and a focus on mezcal as well as tequila – all sure to keep the 40-seat patio hopping in good weather.
ETA: August 28
3495 S. Downing St., Englewood
Courtesy Feed Media
River and Woods
Brilliant chef Daniel Asher is joining forces with restaurateur/DiningOut publisher Josh Dinar to realize this Boulder concept – and what a stunner it will be. In the cozy old home where John’s Restaurant long stood, Asher will prepare "Colorado comfort cuisine" based on crowd-sourced recipes, chosen monthly and adapted according to his commitment to sustainability; the authors of the winning dishes will even be invited to a tasting dinner. (You can submit your ideas here.) As Asher explains, "Sourcing a portion of the menu from our guests allows us to tell a story that goes far beyond what we ourselves can create. Food is a universal language; it crosses all barriers of culture and time." Meanwhile, in keeping with the outdoorsy theme suggested by the name, the backyard is being transformed into a second dining room, complete with alfresco kitchen.
ETA: Late August
Courtesy Carboy Winery
Carboy Winery/Angelo's Taverna
Restaurateurs-turned-négociants Craig Jones, Gabriel Aragon and Eric Hyatt are about to up the ante on Denver's urban winery scene with a 10,000-sq.-ft. facility in Littleton, where they're making their own wines – including a Meritage (Bordeaux-style blend) and a Syrah rosé – sourced primarily from California. Visitors to the stylish tasting room will be able to sample the goods by the tap or bottle, then take their favorites home in refillable carboys (which are to wine as growlers are to beer). Better still, they can also grab pizza, chargrilled oysters and more at the satellite location of Alamo Placita Italian fixture Angelo's Taverna.
ETA: September 1
Swell news for you DTC dwellers: Lorena Cantarovici, Denver’s queen of empanadas (and numerous other Argentine baked goods both savory and sweet), is expanding to your neck of the woods. Cantarovici promises a “super-cool” vibe as well as the same delectable pastries found at the Platt Park original (minus coffee).
ETA: September 1
Jozi's Kitchen & Shebeen
Jozi’s Kitchen & Shebeen
Having found huge success as mobile vendors, Johannesburg-bred chef Angus Hicks, his brother John and their team are bringing their sensational South African specialties to a brick-and-mortar in the burbs. The menu will expand on its established selection of dishes like potjie kos (lamb or beef stew over cornmeal), vetkoek and mince (beignets served with minced meat), curries, kebabs and more. As for the decor of the fast-casual 60-seater, says John Hicks, “We’re going for shebeen chic, with lots of corrugated iron, unfinished wood, concrete” and artwork inspired by their homeland. Shebeen essentially means “pub,” so it’s only fitting that the brothers are applying for a license to serve South African beers and wines.
ETA: Early September
10971 S. Parker Rd., Parker; 720-484-0733
Courtesy DPP Communications
From Duo to Olivéa to Spuntino, chef John Broening and pastry chef Yasmin Lozada-Hissom have long been one of Denver's most celebrated culinary couples, so their return to the scene as a team following an extended hiatus is fanfare-guaranteed. At this LoDo destination, they'll focus on seasonal, wood-fired New American cuisine while the full bar offers a diverse roster of cocktails, craft beers and boutique wines in a lively, mod space extending to a patio that will no doubt prove the place to be on day one.
ETA: Early September
The Central Market
The Central Market
Chef-restaurateur Jeff Osaka (Sushi-Rama, Osaka Ramen) and real-estate developer Ken Wolf have lined up a crackerjack roster of tenants for their 14,000-sq.-ft. food hall in the former H.H. Tammen Curio Company building. In addition to Osaka's own fish market, the soon-to-be RiNo sensation will house Crema spin-off Crema Bodega; Temper, featuring chocolates by Jon Robbins of Bistro Barbès; Culture, a cheese and charcuterie shop from Justin Brunson (Old Major, Masterpiece Deli, Masterpiece Kitchen); and Il Posto sibling Vero, serving pastas, pizzas and other Italian provisions to go. Plus an outpost of High Point Creamery, another Izzio Artisan Bakery, a butcher shop and a greengrocer all await as well.
ETA: Early September
An import from Portland, OR, this RiNo karaoke lounge will boast a warren of state-of-the-art private suites where you can unleash your inner rock star without terrifying a roomful of strangers. A full bar will dispense liquid courage, while the selection of snacks is being designed by tireless chef-about-town Jensen Cummings.
ETA: Mid September
Almost two years to the day after closing his beloved Ballpark pioneer twelve, Jeff Osaka is making good on his promise to resurrect it. The Congress Park iteration will serve as a somewhat more casual showcase for his striking and thoughtful approach to seasonal, contemporary American cuisine, which he'll be serving four nights a week as well as opening for Sunday brunch. (See also Central Market, above.)
ETA: Late September
Post Oak Hall
Why are we so excited about a suburban take-out joint that, at least initially, will open only on Saturdays for breakfast and lunch? Two words: Ellen Daehnick. The Texas-bred founder of beloved caramel company Hellimae’s is turning the space next door to her Wheat Ridge production facility into a cafe that will offer Houston-style po’ boys laced with chow chow; homemade pastries and sundries, including kolaches and burnt-sugar granola; and icebox desserts like her famous caramel-swirled banana pudding (pictured), grasshopper pie and what she calls a “super-trashy” lemon pie made with saltines. Coffee, Mexican sodas and, of course, candies will round out the list of to-go treats – until, that is, overwhelming demand leads her to expand her menu as well as her hours. Perhaps most charming of all, as an opening-month promo, Daehnick will treat anyone who comes in and shares a tidbit about John Sayles' classic film Lone Star to a free mini-pudding.
ETA: Early October
6195 W. 44th Ave., Wheat Ridge; 303-834-7048
It's not even closed, but we can't wait for it to reopen. After four decades dispensing green chile, fajitas, tacos and other Mexican-American eats from a hillside Victorian bungalow in the Jefferson Park neighborhood, La Loma will shutter in late September to return a few days later in a new location: the vacated Trinity Grille, directly across the street from the Brown Palace. The space, currently undergoing a complete remodel, will echo the original decor (expect lots of exposed brick and rustic wood) and serve the same food and beverage menu, including those 64-ounce Cadillac margaritas.
ETA: Early October
As exec chef at the much-missed Lower48, Alex Figura made himself quite a cult following. So you can bet the counter-serve pasta eatery he’s opening in RiNo with chef-partner Spencer White is going to be a hit from the get-go. From the open kitchen anchoring the 40-seat minimalist-industrial space, the pair will turn out Italian classics like cacio e pepe and mozzarella en carozza as well as all the ever-changing and wildly original creations Figura’s fans could hope for: think fried mortadella on Hawaiian rolls with kombu butter or fresh pappardelle with dry-aged beef, horseradish and umeboshi. To wash it all down, the eclectic selection of wines, beers and batched cocktails will be supplemented by espresso drinks. And despite the casual nature of the place (there will even be a retail component for home cooks on the go), you can also count on regular festivities like spaghetti socials.
The excitement couldn't build any higher for what promises to be no mere food hall but a virtual dining village in an old aviation-manufacturing plant. It's not just about the tenants you already know and love, such as Comida, Rosenberg's Bagels & Delicatessen, Denver Biscuit Co., Glazed and Confuzed, Savory Spice and Infinite Monkey Theorem. It's also about future favorites like Stanley Beer Hall, Cheluna Brewing Co. and Annette Scratch to Table – an eatery featuring seasonal wood-fired fare from rising-star chef Caroline Glover – plus numerous other outlets for coffee, juice, barbecue and so on. This is gonna be huge.
The Kitchen Cherry Creek
Combining the rustic feel of its Boulder flagship with the LoDo location’s urbane vibe, the Cherry Creek outpost of Hugo Matheson and Kimbal Musk’s ever-growing farm-to-fork empire (also pictured top) will boast a few nifty features of its own, including a chef’s table, trellis-covered patio, on-site garden and valet parking. Better still, there’s a wood-fired oven for flatbreads and other seasonal specialties.
Courtesy of B Public Relations
Que Bueno Suerte!
The name means “What good luck,” but for the Platt Park neighborhood, a better translation might be “Hooray, at last!” After standing empty for some time, the former Session Kitchen space on Old South Pearl finally has a new tenant – and it’s bound to be a splashy one, right down to the Mayan-inspired decor. Serving as consulting chef and exec chef respectively, Work & Class whizzes Dana Rodriguez and Vinny Sosa will collaborate on a contemporary Mexican menu that’s still in the works but should include such creations as chipotle-spiced bone marrow with homemade tortillas, squash blossoms in Manchego fundido with mixed-olive salsa, elotes con hongos with ricotta in huitlacoche sauce and strawberry-rhubarb empanadas à la mode. Naturally, the bar will showcase premium tequilas in spades – likely well into the night.
With a front-of-house résumé that includes Union Square Cafe, Babbo and Santa Fe’s Coyote Cafe, Christopher Fehlinger knows hospitality – and it shows in his and his husband Jon Lipshutz’s plans for the old, multi-roomed Le Central space on the Capitol Hill/Golden Triangle divide. Named for their French bulldog, the couple’s ambitious project includes several components, starting with the “beautiful” wine bar, says Fehlinger, whose cellar will eventually hold 500 labels with an emphasis on $35–$40 bottles from the Mediterranean and South America. Complementing them will be small and large plates for sharing: picture “a lot of stuff in terracotta dishes” as well as seafood and game. Coffee and pastry service in the morning may lead to a full-fledged in-house bakery down the line; meanwhile, Lipshutz will run the attached housewares boutique, selling some of the same serving pieces you’ll find in the dining room (including Japanese ceramics and Danish vessels).
ETA: Mid October
Fish N Beer
Guess what Fish N Beer will serve? That’s not a trick question – or at least not quite. Just as the name of its sibling, Tacos Tequila Whiskey, doesn’t really capture the funk of the two-branch taqueria itself, neither is Kevin Morrison’s RiNo seafood joint shaping up to be quite so straightforward as it sounds. According to his chef-partner Aniedra Nichols (ex Elway’s), the seasonal menu will feature a wealth of fish preparations – wood-fired, sautéed in cast iron, fried, served in baskets and on sandwiches – accompanied by regularly changing sides (though “we’ll always offer coleslaw and fries,” Nichols promises), as well as oysters. And 16 craft beers on tap aren’t all the bar will be pouring: plenty of wine and cocktails will also flow in a modern bistro-style setting with an open kitchen and a color scheme of black, white, charcoal and teal.
ETA: Late October
Courtesy 34 Degrees
Cracker kingpin Craig Lieberman turned 34 Degrees into an international phenomenon, but his next project is as intimate as they come. As he describes it, Paired, located in a tiny old house, will be an “upscale, minimalist wine bar with some edgy influences consistent with the RiNo neighborhood.” For instance, instead of a kitchen per se, it will boast “two chef stations that will allow guests to see and learn how [our] small plates are prepared.” Per the name, Lieberman also plans to “feature eclectic wines from around the world” – all on tap – which “will rotate often” for maximum enjoyment in mixing and matching your dishes and drinks. Upon launch, there’ll be seating for 40–50 inside and out on the front patio; next year, a backyard garden will increase capacity while offering “a different, more playful and casual vibe.”
ETA: Late October/early November
Olive & Finch
The smash hit that is Mary Nguyen's all-day bakery/cafe in Uptown will soon have a little sibling in Cherry Creek – except it will actually be bigger, selection-wise. In addition to the pastries, breakfast skillets and sandwiches Denverites continue to clamor for (including the braised tongue en baguette, pictured), Nguyen will also offer more bistro-style entrees that are sure to please mourners of her now-closed P17.
Courtesy DPP Communications
Ocean to Plate
From the owners of the namesake seafood wholesaler who also run the Lobster Bliss food truck, this One City Block newcomer is bringing a bit of the breezy oceanside to Uptown via an exhibition kitchen that prepares steam kettles full of cioppino, raw-bar items galore and much more (including, of course, lobster rolls). As for the bar, it will keep plenty of shellfish-friendly craft beers and wines by the variously sized glass on hand for guests in the spacious, light-filled dining room and out on the patio.
ETA: Late November
First there was Brazen; next came Telegraph – and now restaurateur Chris Sargent and his team are spreading their mojo to Sunnyside. Like its siblings, Kindred will straddle the line between a gastropub and an American bistro, serving casually contemporary seasonal fare alongside a full slate of craft booze. But it will boast one feature all its own: a raw bar dispensing not only shellfish but also crudo meats and veggies.
ETA: Late fall
4058 Tejon St.