Courtesy of Osaka Ramen

Jeff Osaka

Osaka Ramen

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After six years, Jeff Osaka's Twelve closed in August, but its shuttering didn’t signify an ending. Instead, it was a sign of progress. Denver’s progressing quickly, and chefs need to be ready to adapt. Osaka's proven he can do just that. The location just reopened as a fresh concept called 12 at Madison. He was also one of the men behind our favorite new havens, the Denver Central Market, which is home to a number of vendors including Jesus Silva and Osaka's Silva's Fish Market. As if that wasn't enough, his conveyor belt sushi spot, Sushi-Rama, has three more locations planned for 2017 and Osaka Ramen continues to serve up piping hot bowls of rich, noodly satisfaction in RiNo. All of this adds up to one busy man who continues to show off his culinary skills in an array of diverse destinations.

Justin Brunson

Masterpiece Kitchen

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Denver fell hard in pork-studded love with this chef soon after he opened Old Major, but this year Justin Brunson continued to prove that his skills reach far behind his Highlands hotspot. 2016 kicked off with major buzz for Brunson thanks to his weekday lunch-only popup, Royal Rooster, which serves up fried chicken sandwiches that rival all others. That was followed by the opening of Masterpiece Kitchen in May (order the pastrami). When the Denver Central Market opened in September, it was meat cones from Brunson's Culture Meat & Cheese that took over Instagram, and in October, he headed for the Beard House in NYC for a Pork-a-Palooza feast. Whatever comes next for this cured meat loving chef, you can be sure we'll be there devouring it.  

Biju's Little Curry Shop

Biju Thomas

Biju's Little Curry Shop

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Curtis Park

With a popular location in RiNo and a new outpost on Tennyson, you've likely grabbed a flavor-packed, soul warming bowl from Biju's Little Curry Shop. But what you may not know is that Biju Thomas himself is a one man fast-casual genius. In a world of salads, burritos, and burgers, he perfected a lineup of Southern-style Indian offerings which are customizable and served up fast for the quick meal you never knew you needed. In addition to the new stand location, Thomas also brought his tasty creations to the Boulder location of Whole Foods this year, an experiment that was so successful you'll soon be able to order up Biju's at two Denver-area locations as well (Cherry Creek and Tamarac). Thomas' vision for Biju's extends beyond Colorado too, and with food as delicious as his, this "little" spot has a big future.

Courtesy of Troy Guard

Troy Guard

Mister Tuna

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Five Points

From burgers and tacos to steaks and Chinese, if you've got a craving, Troy Guard likely has a restaurant where you can satisfy it (TAG, TAG Burger Bar, Sugarmill, Guard & Grace). Even before this year, his collection of eateries was impressive, but 2016 brought several new additions to Guard's lineup that captured our attention. There was a quick makeover of Bubu's Lowry location as it transformed to Lucky Cat (Guard's spin on Chinese), and a new location of Los Chingones in the Tech Center giving the southern suburbs hope for more tasty options. But the stand out is Mister Tuna, Guard's ode to his Hawaiian upbringing with wood fired and rotisserie meats and a healthy lineup of seafood dishes including poke, mussels, and whole roasted sea bream. And now he's already kicking off 2017 with the announcement of a new breakfast spot, Hashtag, coming soon. No matter what type of cuisine he's selling, we'll be there, hungry and ready to eat whatever this chef-restaurateur is cooking up.