Denver
1. Cantina Loca
LoHi
$$$$

The gist: Three-time James Beard semifinalist—and future Casa Bonita chef—Dana Rodriguez (better known as Loca) brings Mexico City-inspired tacos, enchiladas, and snacks to her first solo-owned restaurant.
The food: It’s all about fun at Cantina Loca, from chicharrones with salsa to the Loca-approved, flavor-filled tacos with barbacoa, house-made chorizo, and tempura fried fish. The tacos are a steal at $4 - $5 a piece, but don’t overlook the large plates like al pastor Colorado lamb and red chile chicken. Wash it all down with Rodriguez’s own Doña Loca mezcal and tequila.

2. Ghost Box Pizza
Lafayette
$$$$

The gist: The team behind Acreage by Stem Ciders really likes pizza, especially the crispy-crusted Detroit-style pies. What started as a ghost kitchen to-go concept to stay afloat during the pandemic now has its own digs in downtown Lafayette.
The food: It’s all about the Detroit-style and wood-fired pizzas at Ghost Box, with toppings that veer both classic and creative. You can get both styles in a margherita, but the Detroit-style Potato Rosemary with mascarpone, garlic, and melted onion is even more special. Of course they’re pouring Stem Ciders, but the cocktails, like the Ghost marg and smoked basil mezcal, go down easy too.

3. Three Saints Revival
Union Station
$$$$

The gist: The vibe and decor of Three Saints Revival are just as interesting as the food, meaning your Mediterranean tapas come with a side of kaleidoscopic colors and dreamy touches.
The food: While they do have a short menu of large plates, it’s way more fun to sample a slew of tapas. The choices change often, but if they’re available, try the harissa carrots, lamb meatballs with sofrito, patatas bravas, and shrimp and chorizo. Definitely save room for dessert, as pastry goddess Yasmin Lozada-Hissom creates confectionary magic. The vibe is all vibrant Parisian daydream, so grab a drink, settle in, and let yourself be transported.

4. The Greenwich
Rino
$$$$

The gist: A slice of the Big Apple in the Mile High City, The Greenwich serves big portions of happy-inducing food in a comfortable setting.
The food: Most everything on The Greenwich’s menu is familiar and approachable, but there are enough twists and turns to make it exciting. There’s steak, but with anchovy, garlic, and pickled cipollini; there are roasted carrots, but they come with chile lime pepita and herbed buttermilk. Even the cheesy white pie comes with a kicky side of green chile for dipping. And while cheesecake is almost requisite eating when it comes to NYC, The Greenwich sets theirs apart with a good char and a salty olive oil drizzle.

5. Redeemer Pizza
Rino
$$$$

The gist: Redeemer has swiftly made its way into the hearts of Denver pizza lovers with its New York-style, naturally leavened sourdough pizza. The concept comes from Dio Mio owners Spencer White and Alex Figura, who have a not-so-secret thing for bread in all forms.
The food: Sure, you can start with a farm-fresh salad or some crunchy cauliflower, but you’ll definitely want to dig into a Diavolo pizza with spicy meats and pickled chilis to get a proper fix of heat.

6. Forget Me Not
Cherry Creek
$$$$

The gist: Culinary Creative’s Juan Padró, Katie O’Shea, and Max MacKissock and rockstar behind the bar, Nicole Lebedevitch, have created a small oasis in the midst of the refined Cherry Creek. Velvety couches, bright white brick, and gold accents make for an airy, elegant space to sip cocktails and enjoy company.
The food: While the main draw here is the expertly curated menu of handcrafted cocktails and lovely, clean atmosphere, the snack menu has quite a lot to offer. Meat and cheese boards and tinned fish are great for sharing, but we’d be remiss not to urge you to try the lobster crunch wrap, Chicago style hot dog, or raclette over confit potatoes and cornichons—each is even better than it sounds.

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