Remember back in January when we told you about the 10 best new bars and restaurants in Denver? That was pretty great. And then remember how we told you about 14 more sweet new spots a few months later? So great. So what’d you think if we told you about Mile High’s 14 best new places right now... that it would suck? No it wouldn’t...
From the retro lighting to the antique tiles, this place still looks like the brasserie that preceded it, but now it’s more of a boîte. That’s fancy French for “nightclub” -- and though Baur’s is open by day, it flowers fully in the evening, when the cocktails flow, the kitchen turns out chic eats like pan-fried abalone with black garlic and grilled rabbit with barigoule, and jazz musicians take the stage. If you squint, you can almost picture the Gauloises smoke filling the room. But in a good way.
Like a newborn calf standing up for the first time, the brick-and-mortar offshoot of this mobile smokehouse is just starting to get up on its feet; in both cases, that means killer brisket lies ahead. For now, chef-owner Darren Byrd’s menu is short and sweet, presenting the fundamentals (pulled pork, ribs, burnt ends, and so on) on platters or in sandwiches alongside your choice of a few classic sides -- don’t say no to the spicy, bacon-enriched baked beans -- as well as lemonade, sweet tea, and local bottled sodas. But a number of other goodies, including beer, should pop up soon.
If you’ve been thinking how one Detroit-style pizzeria in Denver isn’t enough, you’re not only not alone, you’re also in luck. In fact, you’re about to find yourself in heaven on Earth, because the chef-partner of this shoebox-sized (okay, takeout pizza box-sized) parlor is a master of the Motor City pie -- baked in a square pan to hold the cheese that laces its crust -- and he’s got the awards from competitions worldwide to prove it. Not to mention the Colorado microbrews you’d expect in, you know, heaven.
City Park West
Aw, look, Denverites, our little ’Fax is growing up! Where once it could stomach only diners and dives, these days it can handle craft breweries and gourmet taquerias and, now, even a wine bar, where you can pair about 40 pours with elegantly topped, bubble-crusted pizzas from the pecan wood-fired beehive oven. Or sip smart cocktails like the J. Californica (rye, peach liqueur, and walnut bitters) while snacking on ample portions of charcuterie and cheese, served on slate boards with dishes of house-made jam and olive oil. You can even get a “passport” to tasting classes or catch a local musician’s acoustic set. And then you can sit back and wonder what’s next for Colfax.
High-ceilinged and sunny, with an island bar, a fireplace, and a bocce court, this restaurant on the Breck group’s sprawling new suburban campus has traded the he-man food at the previous location for a gentler, more wholesome selection of snacks and squares. Standouts include the smoky-sweet barbecued carrots as well as the unusually delicate lamb pastrami with Swiss, slaw, and pickled tomato mayo on rye, which comes with balsamic-dill potato chips so good you’ll want to order a second sandwich just for them (in which case get the pan-fried striped bass on a roll).
The ultra-mod, color-splashed, glassed-in dining room of the ART -- a new hotel in the Museum District -- is pretty much a work of art in itself, complete with a fire pit-graced terrace. But it’s not just pretty: it also boasts a big-name chef, Chris Jakubiec. Though fresh from Washington DC’s Plume, he’s already showing a flair for the Southwestern, incorporating green chile into tuna tartare, stuffing ravioli with lamb, and garnishing salmon crudo with Rocky Ford cantaloupe.
Occupying a space as narrow as an airplane cabin with 15 seats on a good day, this homestyle Chinese counter joint may be bare in bones, but it’s opulent in spirit. Short as it is, the menu spans the provinces from Dongbei to Yunnan, each dish juicier and more vibrant than the next: we’d call the hand-formed leek-and-egg dumplings unforgettable, except that the sweet potato noodles topped with ground pork, peanuts, and gingko nuts in a sour-spicy broth are so intoxicating, you’ll probably black out with the first bite. Maybe bring smelling salts.
You gotta love a bar that serves Schlitz-battered and pickled onion rings. You gotta love a bar with walls and vintage sofas that are the color of old pennies. You gotta love a bar that screens John Waters flicks on the patio. And since you gotta love all that, you gotta love this place in particular. Why not start tonight?
Run by a couple with a passion for the sidewalk cafes of Europe, this little hideaway is all about the simple pleasures: a glass of rosé and some prosciutto-wrapped figs, a gin and house-made tonic with Parmesan crisps, or a pint of Declaration Wildberry saison alongside a croque monsieur on challah. (Okay, that last combo’s not so simple, but it sounds totally awesome right about now.)
Forget that old joke about only two things coming from Texas. Especially when this boozer’s come all the way from Houston to Denver, where it plans on “Turning up the volume on background music and serving fried chicken with Champagne.” That’s Max’s jam, and it makes for a fine time -- although it’s just as much fun to pair the brilliant Brie burger with Lambrusco, or the baked oysters with some vino. Oh, and speaking of vino, they've got a deal that puts most other wine promotions to shame: They'll open any bottle on their list as long as you promise to buy at least two glasses.
Local fine-dining pioneer Michael Shiell marks his return to Denver with a sleek, subterranean social club for the LoDo set. That means the menu’s basically a checklist of aphrodisiacs, from raw oysters and cashew-crusted foie gras bonbons, to scallops with asparagus in caviar beurre blanc. And the drink list is even sexier, thanks to the bar’s use of supposed, uh, mood boosters like yohimbe, burdock root, and goji berries. Plus you’ve got creamy banquettes and a courtyard patio to lounge around on while the food/drinks take effect.
You know how your favorite character in The Big Lebowski is really Walter Sobchak and not The Dude? Well, while Jeff Osaka’s noodle soup abides, and it’s the rest of the menu you’ll go home quoting. From the ume-filled onigiri, to the instant smash-hit karaage (that’s Japanese fried chicken, kids), to the kinako-fried mochi donuts, it’s all stuff you’ll want to shove in your face as often as possible. Even if it means you have to roll on Shabbos.
Given its friendliness to weed smokers, new boutique hotel NATIV would be missing one hell of a lucrative opportunity if it didn’t offer 24/7 room service. But on-site lounge Pourtions doesn’t cure the munchies only of its overnight guests... you’re invited too. Resembling a sort of 21st-century fern bar built with wood reclaimed from high school gyms, it gets its name from its self-serve system of 20 taps filled with local beers, and the menu is equally easygoing: think bánh mì and chicken Parm sliders or fish & chips with vanilla ketchup.
We included it among our picks for great first-date bars not merely because it’s got such an intimate vibe -- though it does -- or because the drinks go down so smoothly (though they do, especially the Sherry Cobbler and the Ramos Gin Fizz served with a silver straw). It’s also because the staff displays the kind of grace and tact that could soften even the most awkward evening. Which means you’ll just have to come back with your next first date.
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1. Baur's Restaurant and Listening Lounge1512 Curtis St, Denver
2. Big Country Bar-B-Que4044 Tejon St, Denver
3. Blue Pan3930 W 32 Ave, Denver
4. Brik on York2223 E Colfax Ave, Denver
5. Farm House Restaurant at Breckenridge Brewery2990 Brewery Ln, Littleton
6. Fire1201 Broadway St, Denver
7. Flower Pepper2655 Broadway, Denver
8. Fort Greene321 E 45th Ave, Denver
9. The Greedy Hamster323 14th St, Denver
10. MAX's Wine Dive Denver696 Sherman St., Denver
11. Milk & Honey Bar • Kitchen1414 Larimer St, Denver
12. Osaka Ramen2611 Walnut St, Denver
13. Pourtions1612 Wazee St, Denver
14. Union Lodge No. 11543 Champa St, Denver
This 9,000 square foot restaurant space in Denver's theater district brings top notch food, an impressive bar, and great music for locals and tourists to experience and enjoy. The listening lounge at Baur's brings in a variety of performers, and tickets can be purchased on BaursMagic.com
From this stand still version of the popular mobile smokehouse, chef-owner Darren Byrd is serving all the BBQ classics: pulled pork, brisket, burnt ends, ribs, baked beans, cole slaw, potato salad, and collard greens. Sweet tea or lemonade are included with the meal, and they promise that the menu will grow as the business does.
Blue Pan pizzeria is turning out Detroit style, classic Italian, Chicago cracker thin, and New York style pizza. Each variety comes with multiple topping combos, plus they have a beer and wine list to go with whatever variety you choose. The specialty from award-winning pizzaiolo Jeff "Smoke" Smokevitch is the addictive Detroit-style pies which transform often-trashed crust into the cheesy, caramelized highlight of your pizza-eating experience.
This City Park wine bar, Brik on York, is designed so the drinks and food are designed to pair seamlessly. The open kitchen is home to a real Italian wood-fire pizza oven and churning out antipasti, salads, Italian dishes, and of course, pizza. Come for dinner and try the White Buffalo with mozzarella, Italian sausage, caramelized onion, oregano, pecorino, and truffle oil atop a pillowy-yet-crackling pecan wood-fired crust.
Part of the larger Breckenridge family, this rustic restaurant uses wholesome ingredients to make their various sandwiches, salads, and full dinners. The 'Sandwich Counter' includes a bunch of unique combinations and variations on more traditional options.
FIRE, a restaurant in the ART Hotel, offers elevated New American cuisine in its restaurant, lounge, and on its terrace. Dinner items include a bison tartare, foie gras, salmon crudo, rainbow trout, prime filet, and wild salmon caponata.
A tiny counter order restaurant, Flower Pepper commands a strong following on the strength of its authentic Chinese dishes alone, whose breadth of flavors attempts to span the entire country. On the menu, you'll find everything from Beijing-aspiring cold noodles, to pork-stuffed dumplings from northern China. And though the white walls of this narrow seating area are void of any decorations, large portions and affordable prices make this spot worth the drive.
This bar, owned by a pair of brothers, touts old-fashioned Midwestern hospitality among its charms. Serving classic american dishes and some international comfort food, its easy to feel comfortable in the welcoming space.
This downtown haunt serves Bistro-inspired foods like prosciutto-wrapped figs, parmesan chips, and a croque monsieur on challah. All their dishes have a beverage accompaniment, and they aren't slacking their either. Housemade tonics and a wide array of wines round out the selections at this hideaway (which also happens to have a pretty special name).
Max's says it best, “Turning up the volume on background music and eating fried chicken with Champagne.” That’s just Max’s jam, and it makes for a fine time.
The menu here is basically a check list of aphrodisiacs, from raw oysters and cashew-crusted foie gras bonbons to scallops with asparagus in caviar beurre blanc. Not to mention the sexy drink list, decor and courtyard patio.
Jeff Osaka’s urban-underground noodle bar has an Asian food-friendly wine list, stellar izakaya-inspired small plates, and ramen, which reflects the chef-owner’s painstaking R&D. You’ve got your lighter, chicken-based shio (salt) and shoyu (soy-flavored) broths; your medium-textured miso broth, made with chicken and pork; and your intense, whole-hog tonkotsu broth -- each distinguished by its own mix of toppings, from braised pork shoulder to black-garlic oil. Oh, and there’s a meatless alternative for the plant-eating poors who don’t know what they’re missing in the juxtaposition of velvety pork belly and a perfectly soft egg.
The NATIV not only has 24/7 room service at this weed friendly hotel, but a late night lounge as well. Complete with 20 taps of local beer and munchies (pun intended) like bánh mì and chicken-parm sliders or fish and chips with vanilla ketchup.
Cobblers, crustas, blazers, fizzes, knickerbockers: you’ll definitely have some fun just pouring over the well-annotated menu at this urbane 34-seat spot in the CBD. Focusing on pre-Prohibition cocktails, Union Lodge is kind of place where bartenders are "mixologists" and the decor hearkens back to a vintage Americana vibe. The extensive menu got you reeling? Order a Ramos Gin Fizz, marvel at its foamy head, and know that you’re enjoying the drink the way it was intended to be served.