After being closed for nearly three months, dining rooms are back open in the Mile High. Sure, things are a bit different than they used to be -- party sizes are limited, tables are farther apart, condiments are gone from the tables and staff, and guests are required to mask up while not eating or drinking. But some things remain the same, like the stellar food that you can find all over town. A few new spots have even managed to make successful debuts while combating the challenges of a post COVID-19 world. So when you’re sick of cooking and can’t stand the sight of the never ending pile of dishes in your sink, where should you go? Any of the places below.
The gist: One of the COVID-closure success stories, this new sandwich shop that operates as a take out only concept out of Bar Dough has quickly become the go-to for East Coast style sandwiches.
The food: It’s all about the hoagies and hot sandwiches here, from the Sanducci loaded with mortadella, gabagool, hot sopressata, provolone, shrettuce, giardiniera, and garlic aioli to the the Philly-inspired Uncle Jimmy with roast pork and broccoli rabe. The sesame seed rolls are baked in house fresh daily, and they’re always trying out new menu additions so keep an eye out for specials. Add a side of crab chips coated with Old Bay with a side of cheese wiz for dipping, and you’ll be ready to start calling all your friends that haven’t tried this spot yet “jabronis.”
The cost: Sandwiches typically range from $13-$16 and sides start at $3.
How to order: Call 720-668-8506 or pre-order online via Tock; walk-up ordering is also available
The gist: Owner Bob Reiter and chef Brent Turnipseede teamed up to create this neighborhood bistro with elevated takes on new American favorites.
The food: Familiar options become special again thanks to extra touches -- like the tater “skins” loaded with River Bear bacon, a creamy horseradish sauce, smoked cheddar, and chimichurri made with ramps. You can make a meal of the starters alone if you’re looking for an affordable meal to share, or opt for the larger format entrees like the seared scallops with corn soubise, sweet pea succotash, charred okra, and smoked tomato butter or a classic steak frites.
The cost: Starters are $12-$18, entrees are $16-$29, and cocktails are $10-$14.
How to order: For dine-in, call 720-749-3186 or book online. Curbside pickup is also available via online ordering.
The gist: Chef Kelly Whitaker (the founder of Boulder’s Basta) opened this unique eatery in 2018 where seasonal ingredients, house milled grains, and playful cooking techniques come together in unexpected ways.
The food: Heritage grains milled in house take center stage here in the form of house made pasta which is a staple, although the preparations often jump the borders of global cuisines -- for example, right now you’ll find both paccheri with summer pesto and long noodles with szechuan pork, ginger, cucumber, and peanuts on the menu. Many dishes feature wood-fired and charcoal grilled elements, but the best part of the food here may be that you can always expect the unexpected.
The cost: A la carte items are available for pickup and range from $10-$25. The Entrust omakase menu for dine-in is $45 per person.
How to order: Order online or book a reservation for dine-in on Tock.
The gist: A Texas-style BBQ hit from Karl Fallenius who spent time working under Aaron Franklin at Austin’s famed Franklin’s before bringing his smoking skills to the Mile High.
The food: Fallenius made Owlbear synonymous with stellar brisket via his original outpost behind Finn’s Manor, and after a long (but well worth it wait) finally opened a brick & mortar location. The brisket remains the best in town, and he continues to expand the selections, often adding items on special like gigantic beef ribs and Colorado lamb alongside staples like pulled pork and vegetarian options like jackfruit.
The cost: Meats are available by the pound starting at $6 for a quarter pound. Sandwiches are $7-$9 and sides come in a range of sizes starting at $4-$6 for a small.
How to order: Currently only open for takeout, you must order online by 4pm the day before and schedule a pickup time.
The gist: Known for his eponymous New Orleans restaurant, award-winning chef Alon Shaya brought his take on modern Israeli cuisine to Denver in 2018, and pita lovers all over the Mile High have rejoiced ever since.
The food: It’s nearly impossible not to fall in love with this spot after just one bite of the insanely fluffy, perfectly charred wood-fired pitas. And it only gets better from there. Pair those pitas with oh-so-smooth hummus topped with decadent lamb ragu or lutenitsa, a flavorful blend of roasted eggplant, tomato, peppers, and garlic. Then move on to harissa roasted chicken or pomegranate braised lamb shanks or charred cabbage or anything really. There are no bad moves to be made here.
The cost: Starters and hummus range from $8-$17, small plates from $8-$16, and large plates for $37. For dine in, you can choose from two prix fixe menus for $50 or $70, or the weekend brunch menu for $45 per person.
How to order: A la carte items are only available for takeout via online ordering and delivery through DoorDash. For dine in, book online via Resy.
The gist: After years of serving stellar ramen to the hungry masses at Uncle, owner Tommy Lee opened this Chinese powerhouse in 2015, and the bold flavors continue to make a must-visit spot today.
The food: If you still think Chinese in Denver means too sweet beef and broccoli and chow mein, you’ve been missing out. The hip-hop soundtrack and high energy atmosphere pair perfectly with dishes that are ideal for sharing. Don’t skip the la ji zi (mouth-numbing -- in a really, really good way, Szechuan fried chicken), bone marrow fried rice, and chilled tofu with bang bang sauce.
The cost: Plates range from $6-$27
How to order: Order online for pickup or through Postmates for delivery. For dine in (including new outdoor tables), book online via Resy.
The gist: The first restaurant from Caroline Glover, a current semi finalist for the James Beard award for Best Chef: Mountain and one of Food & Wine Magazine’s ten best new chefs in America 2019.
The food: Glover’s driving goal for Annette is to make each service feel like a dinner party among friends, whether that means pivoting to impeccable burgers on house made English muffins while she was forced to close for dine-in during COVID-19 or serving signature favorites on the new outdoor patio. While many items are perfect in their simplicity, like the chive-covered deviled eggs, Glover’s also not afraid to tackle less common ingredients and transform them into comfort food, like the grilled beer tongue + marrow toast that’s become a staple on the menu.
The cost: Snacks are $3.25-$4.25, plates range from $7.50 to $29.
How to order: Order online for curbside pickup or book online for outdoor dining via Resy.
The gist: Boulder’s Frasca Food & Wine has long been lauded as one of the top eateries in the region, so when their team opened this Italian haven in the renovated Union Station in 2017, it was an instant hit.
The food: Elevated classic Italian at its best is what you’ll find here, from the burrata with burrata with trapanese pesto and the grass fed beef carpaccio to melt in your mouth gnocchi with zucchini pesto. The wine here also deserves equal attention thanks to a program led by master sommelier Bobby Stuckey.
The cost: A selection of cicchetti (small snacks) are $4-$8, starters are $13-$26, pastas are $18-$20, and entrees are $26-$46.
How to order: Order online for pickup or book a reservation for dine-in via Tock.
The gist: New Saigon has long been a go-to for Vietnamese cuisine in the Mile High. In January 2019, the daughter of that longtime favorite’s original owners opened her own eatery, complete with a 42 page menu that will take you on an incredibly flavorful dining adventure.
The food: Dishes 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). Your best play: Come with a group that likes to share so you can sample as many options as possible.
The cost: Starters are $4.95-$19.95, pho is $9.95-$13.95, entrees are $12.95-$36.95.
How to order: Call 303-975-2399 to order for curbside pickup, delivery, or to make a reservation for dine in. Delivery is also available via Grubhub.