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The Populist
Small plates from the Crema Coffee cohort

Denver

It's tough to go from owning a coffeeshop to owning a restaurant: so many more moving pieces, and it's much more noticeable when you misspell someone's name on their dinner plate. The guys from exceptional beanery Crema Coffee House seem up to the task, though, with Populist.

A Five Points, 60-seat ode to new American small plates, it's rocking a massive patio and a "Victorian Dust Bowl" vibe accented by patina copper tables and a burnt wood bar that fittingly looks quite fire. Start off with beer-marinated olives & crackers, a "perfect poached egg" aside bacon bourbon jam/ lardo Iberico/ sourdough toasts, and smoked fish rillettes topped with creme fraiche/ cornichons/ onions/ capers/ root vegetable pizele. There're no entree-sized dishes in the house (and thanks for asking, you've now made them insecure), but, umm, larger small plates include braised beef cheeks, butterflied quail in a maple gastrique aside mustard greens, and a pork & pear boudin blanc with pea shoots, though as of the date of publishing, it's not known if pea scores.

Then order/wedgie a bottle from their "nerdy, well-curated" wine list, grab working-class beers like Gennessee and Utica Club, or go for their lightly twisted takes on a classic cocktails, like an Old Fashioned made with Scotch, honey syrup, lemon, and house-roasted apple bitters -- though don't expect to have a moving piece after drinking one.

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1. The Populist 3163 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80205

Located in Denver's Five Points neighborhood, The Populist is an American restaurant perfecting the craft of the small (er) plate (no entree-sized meals). With menu items like the seared kalbi short ribs with soy braised burdock avocado puree and herb papaya salad, and powerhouse, distinctive cocktails, you may find smaller can be better.

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