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Hop Alley
Hop Alley
Adam Larkey

Today we announce the seventh annual Eater Awards, celebrating the chefs and restaurants that truly made an impact in 2016. We recognize restaurant owners working to create better environments for their staff and diners, plus the establishments — from cafes and pizzerias to fine dining spots — that have taken the food world by storm. Read on to learn more about this year's best of the best.

In previous years, Eater readers narrowed down the nominees finalists, with the editorial board ultimately choosing the winners. This year, Eater is recognizing both a public vote winner and an editor's choice for each category.

Restaurant of the Year

Hop Alley

This sister restaurant to the popular Uncle took Denver by storm when it opened nearly a year ago. The Chinese-inspired fare is precise in its philopsophy and execution, the cocktail and wine program are world-class, and the vibe is casual yet elevated in a unique contemporary way.

Readers' Choice Award: Departure

Nominees: Bar Dough, Matsuhisa, Hop Alley, Departure, Sushi Ronin

Chef of the Year

Kelly Whitaker, Basta and Ash

Chef Kelly Whitaker is a man on the move. His Boulder restaurant Basta has stepped up its game significantly, so much so that it came in second on 5280 Magazine's best 25 restaurants list this year. Whitaker also launched his mobile business, Ash, and a non-profit focused on preserving heritage grains.

Readers' Choice Award: Kelly Whitaker, Basta and Ash

Nominees: Max Mackissock (Bar Dough), Kelly Whitaker (Basta and Ash), Paul Reilly (Coperta and Beast + Bottle), Andrea Frizzi (Il Posto and Vero), Troy Guard (TAG, Los Chingones, Guard & Grace, and others)

Most Beautiful Restaurant of the Year

Matsuhisa Cherry Creek

The legendary restaurant brainchild of Japanese chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa made its Denver debut in Cherry Creek earlier this year. Aside from the top notch sushi, likely the best in the Mile High City, and the superb hospitality, Matsuhisa has something else: stunning looks. Every detail of the design is thoughtful and every corner of the restaurant provides its own special experience.

Readers' Choice Award: Mister Tuna

Nominees: Departure, Avelina, Mister Tuna, Vital Root, Matsuhisa

Bar of the Year


Tucked behind an alley and down in the basement of the new Halcyon Hotel in Cherry Creek, B&GC has the elegance, class, and mystery of a top notch bar from a different era. The attentive service and creative drinks, combined with the laid back ambiance make this new spot an instant winner.

Readers' Choice Award: Retrograde

Nominees: Hudson Hill, B&GC, Retrograde, The Way Back, Pon Pon

Game-Changer of the Year

The Denver Central Market

Reinforcing the unstoppable growth of the RiNo neighborhood, the Denver Central Market launched earlier this year bringing together eleven exciting food artisans and vendors. There is something for everyone from breakfast pastries to cured meats to ice cream. Bonus: The retail component, which includes fresh meats and fish, is a real draw onto itself.

Readers' Choice Award: Punch Bowl Social

Nominees: Union Station Farmers Market, The Denver Central Market, Punch Bowl Social, Avanti Food & Beverage, The Halcyon Hotel

Hop Alley

3500 Larimer Street, , CO 80205 (720) 379-8340 Visit Website


98 Steele St, Denver, CO 80206

Departure Restaurant + Lounge

525 Southwest Morrison Street, , OR 97204 (503) 802-5370 Visit Website


3601 Arapahoe Avenue, , CO 80303 (303) 997-8775 Visit Website