Denver

Denver's Best New Restaurants of 2019

Courtesy of From the Hip Photo/Kayla Jones
Courtesy of From the Hip Photo/Kayla Jones
Courtesy of From the Hip Photo/Kayla Jones

There’s no better way to ring in a new decade than by gorging yourself on the best food our beautiful city has to offer. Over the past year, the definition of dining in Denver has shifted to a food hall-heavy, dumpling-and pita-loving celebration of variety. The phrase “best new restaurants” is no longer synonymous with “best fancy place to take a date.” 

Instead they include a food truck with a cult following, an off-the-beaten path Vietnamese delight with a 42-page menu, and even a barbecue joint — finally smoked meats are rising to the top of the culinary scene in a town where crave-worthy barbecue was absent since the days of the Old West. It truly is a great time to eat out in Denver, and these new additions to the dining scene offer all the proof you’ll ever need.

Courtesy of From the Hip Photo/Kayla Jones
Courtesy of From the Hip Photo/Kayla Jones
Courtesy of From the Hip Photo/Kayla Jones

Broadway Market

Capitol Hill
A dream team of culinary talent under one food hall roof
The food hall trend is still going strong as we roll into 2020, but it was this one that truly raised the bar. Speaking of, let’s start with the bar. It’s an oasis located in the center of the action where floral apron-clad staff will guide you through a selection of cocktails designed to be paired with the eclectic dining options. And what options they are. From a new location to score Justin Brunson’s much-loved Royal Rooster fried chicken sandwiches (and one of the best burgers in town), to both thin and thick Roman-style pizza from Paul Riley and the Coperta/Beast + Bottle team, as well as doner kebab from chef Daniel Asher and Josh Dinar at Mother Tongue. And those aren’t even all the options. Plus there’s an actual beer wall with 24 taps that pour your selected amount from the bottom up. Have you left the house yet? We’ll meet you there.

AshKara Denver
AshKara Denver
AshKara Denver

Ash’Kara

LoHi
Isreali eats from a heavy-hitting culinary team
What do Ash’Kara, Morin, Senor Bear, and Bar Dough have in common? Two things actually. They’ve all previously held a place on this list and they’ve all come from the same team that’s helping to push Denver’s culinary foundation to delicious new heights. This Middle Eastern venture technically opened in late December 2018, but does a technicality really matter when it comes to puffy pitas, cooked-to-order over wood-oven flames and perfect for dipping into a bubbling cast iron skillet of saganaki? We think not. As you eat your way through options like the whole Alamosa striped bass (a nod to Colorado), make sure to save room for a dessert cookie tray — because why should you have to choose between baklava, brittle, and brownies? 

Courtesy of An Nguyen
Courtesy of An Nguyen
Courtesy of An Nguyen

Savory Vietnam

Athmar Park
Featuring a massive lineup of traditional Vietnamese dishes
Fans of New Saigon take note. Savory Vietnam, which quietly opened in January of this year in the former King’s Land space near Pacific Ocean Mercantile, is run by chef An Nguyen, the daughter of New Saigon’s original owners. The menu comes in the form of a small book, with 42 pages (seriously) of dishes that range from the familiar (pho, noodle bowls, fried rice) to the harder to find (snails sauteed with lemongrass, garlic, coriander, and coconut milk, or squid and pork belly in a spicy fermented shrimp paste). You’re best play? Come with a group that likes to share so you can sample as many options as possible.

Courtesy of Sarah Rodriquez
Courtesy of Sarah Rodriquez
Courtesy of Sarah Rodriquez

Uncle (2.0)

Washington Park West
The second incarnation of Denver’s favorite ramen shop
Maybe Uncle’s new location isn’t technically a brand new restaurant. After all, the original location in LoHi has had a line out the door for favorites like their spicy chicken ramen and steamed bun since it opened in 2012. But with a dozen new menu additions exclusive to this freshly opened second outpost, we think it’s got enough new vibes to earn a spot here. The old favorites are as good as ever in the new digs, but do yourself (and your tastebuds) a favor and explore the new additions, which include snackable fried mushrooms with house made hot sauce, an anything-but-traditional spin on shrimp cocktail with spicy pepper marinade and sweet chili sauce, and three new spins on mazemen (brothless ramen).

Owlbear

Rino
The long-awaited brick & mortar location of Denver’s best destination for brisket
Back in 2015, Karl Fallenius (who spent time working under Aaron Franklin at Austin’s famed Franklin’s) started serving barbecue out of a food truck at Finn’s Manor, quickly gaining a cult following. In 2017, that outpost closed and news of a permanent spot nearby on Larimer circulated among his smoked meat-seeking followers. More than two years later, Owlbear is really back. Meats are smoked for hours in two converted propane tanks then sold by the ½ lb or in sandwich form at a ridiculously great price considering the quality. Pro tip: Get there early to score a brisket sandwich ($6) and side of mac & cheese ($2.50) before they sell out.

Courtesy of Savanna Ronco
Courtesy of Savanna Ronco
Courtesy of Savanna Ronco

LeRoux

Union Station
16th Street Mall gets gussied up with a local chef’s European fine-dining project
Chef Lon Symensma is well known around town for his Asian-style restaurants, ChoLon and Cho77, but with this European fine-dining venture, he went back to his roots. Symensa is putting a modern twist on classic cuisine, like a delicately layered king trumpet mushroom mille-feuille, or Wagyu beef tartare, served under a glass dome that releases a puff of smoke. Stay for dessert, a show unto itself (the baked Alaska is lit aflame tableside).

Yuan Wonton

Various locations
The handmade dumpling food truck with a cult following
They don’t have a website. They don’t have a storefront. But they do have dumplings worth waiting in line for. This food truck from chef Penelope Wong has changed the way Denverites eat mobile food. How, you implore us? With an amazing social media buzz that has resulted in crowds gathering wherever Wong’s slinging dumplings that day. From brewery stops to sold out pop-ups at Old Major, she seems to be everywhere, rain, snow, or shine, ready to please her adoring fans. Delicate, hand-folded chili wontons with spicy kicks have quickly become this food truck’s signature item, but your best bet is to order (at least) one of everything on the menu.Sign up here for our daily Denver email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.

Molly Martin is a Denver-based freelance writer who spends all year eating out as much as possible just for you. You’re welcome. Follow her @mollydbu on Twitter and Instagram for copious photos of fried chicken.

Denver

How to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Denver This Year

For a successful St. Patrick's Day, hit these parades, barcrawls, parties, and festivals.

VISIT DENVER
VISIT DENVER
VISIT DENVER

Grab your green and your Guinness-St. Patrick’s Day is around the corner, and there’s fun to be had. In addition to being the first big celebratory holiday after New Year’s, St. Paddy’s is also a signal of spring; more hours of sunshine, T-shirt temps, and filling Blake, Market, and Larimer with drunken revelry make up a particularly Denver type of equinox. However you plan to celebrate-with family friendly activities or for those over the legal drinking age only-there are parades to be watched, playful drinks to be sipped, and a whole lot of shamrock-ing to do.

Photo courtesy of Mile High Spirits
Photo courtesy of Mile High Spirits
Photo courtesy of Mile High Spirits

Dance a jig or two at Mile High Spirits’ Shamrock Shenanigans

March 17
If you’re ready to put your dancing shoes to good use, wiggle your way on over to Mile High Spirits-doors are opening at 12 pm and there’s no cover ‚Äėtil 10. Enjoy MHS’ drinks, big dance floor, and even bigger outdoor patio for all the Irish pride and shenanigans you can handle.

Cook Street School of Culinary Arts
Cook Street School of Culinary Arts
Cook Street School of Culinary Arts

Whip up steak for a St. Paddy’s Date Night

March 17
Cook Street’s special St. Paddy’s Day class involves making the perfect steak while sipping on Irish whiskey. On Friday only, learn about proteins, cooking methods, and choosing side dishes carefully while cooking up traditional Irish cuisine.

Crawl around town. You know, figuratively…

March 17 – 18
Is it a drinking holiday in Denver if there aren’t a handful of bar crawls happening? Probably not. St. Paddy’s Day is no different; you can start crawling from a number of bars, but a few in particular have everything plotted out for you (for a small fee). Start at the Ginn Mill and receive a map of over 10 pub locations you’ll be crawling to either Friday or Saturday, plus drink special vouchers. There’s also a crawl departing from Nola Jane (Friday only) with its own food and drink specials, plus a scavenger hunt and some St. Paddy’s merch, too.

The Fainting Goat
The Fainting Goat
The Fainting Goat

Visit one of Denver’s Irish Pubs

March 17 – 18
If you can’t think of a better place to spend St. Paddy’s Day then at a local Irish pub, we salute you-just be prepared to throw a few elbows making your way to the bar. Denver’s got several good ol’ pubs from Broadway to Larimer Square that’ll be in full swing this weekend, pouring fresh pints as far as the eye can see. Check out Scruffy Murphy’s, Nallen’s, The Irish Rover, Finley’s, The Celtic on Market, or the Fainting Goat for that SPD revelry you know, love, and trekked out for.

Photo courtesy of The OG/McGregor Square
Photo courtesy of The OG/McGregor Square
Photo courtesy of The OG/McGregor Square

Sip and savour St. Paddy’s themed bevvies

Through March 17
Everyone pulls out the green food dye and mint flavouring for St. Paddy’s, but there are some other creative drink specials to sample, too. The OG’s got a boozy milkshake for the occasion, aptly named “Who’s Your Paddy,” a mix of vanilla ice cream, Cr√®me de Menthe, Tullamore Dew, Bailey’s, and whipped cream. BEZEL’s Irish Matcha Man is pretty unique, with Teeling Small Batch whiskey, lime, thyme-infused honey, and matcha powder. And then Slater’s 50/50 takes it to another level (unsurprisingly) with its Lucky Mint Green Shake: mint-flavored ice cream in a frosting-rimmed glass with Lucky Charm marshmallows, rainbow stripe sour strips, whipped cream and green sprinkles. Other notable specials can be found at Poka Lola Social Club, Dairy Block’s Moo Bar, and Seven Grand.

Sing along and cheers to live music

March 17
Denver’s The Monkey Barrel is known for its regular live performances, and this St. Patrick’s Day you can tune in to Elijah Petty & The Part-Times and other musical guests if you’re in search of a chiller spot to sip your Guinness. Or, have one of the best burgers in town while relishing the shenanigans and live music of Cherry Cricket Cherry Creek this St. Paddy’s Day. Food and drink specials will also be available through the holiday weekend, so leave extra room or wear your stretchy (green) pants.

HRCA Race Series
HRCA Race Series
HRCA Race Series

Show your St. Paddy’s spirit by‚Ķ running?

March 18
Feeling restless? Or maybe you’re itching to get a few laps in before hammering down several pints this Saturday? Either way, Highlands Ranch is hosting its St. Patrick’s Day 5K where finishing the race gets you St. Patrick’s Day merch, an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast, and of course, a complimentary pint courtesy of Living the Dream Brewing.

Holidaily Brewing Company
Holidaily Brewing Company
Holidaily Brewing Company

Drink and do good at Holidaily Brewing Co.

March 17
This St. Paddy’s Day, Holidaily and the Gluten Intolerance Group are putting on their Raise a Pint, Lend a Hand fundraiser. A special glitter and green Firkin tapping is happening at 4 pm at both taprooms, with special (and gluten-free) treats available at the Golden location, thanks to Farmhouse 5280 and Waive the Grain bakery. 10% of all St. Patrick’s Day sales will be donated to the Gluten Intolerance Group.

Talnua Distillery
Talnua Distillery
Talnua Distillery

Party at a local distillery

March 17 – 18
Talnua Distillery is hosting a St. Patrick’s Day bash to remember this year, featuring food trucks, live music, special themed cocktails, and more. Limited bottles of Talnua’s exclusive Olde Saint’s Keep whiskey will be available for purchase, which you can hang onto while you dance along to pipe bands or eat a brat or two from El Jefe’s.

Watch some Irish step dancing

March 17
Head on over to Stanley Marketplace to witness the talent and skill of the students at the Wick School of Irish Dance at 12 pm, and follow it up with a green cerveza at Cheluna Brewing Co. Of course, plenty of tasty lunch and dinner options are available around the marketplace so you can soak up a bit of that beer.

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Erica Buehler is a Denver-based freelance writer and editor. Follow her @e_buehler on Instagram and @e_buehler_ on Twitter for more updates on Denver food and other Mile High shenanigans.

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