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Industry Experts' Top Restaurant Standbys of 2016

Hop Alley, El Taco de Mexico, Basta, and more

Rachel Greiman

As we put a cap on 2016, Eater surveyed a group of critics, writers, and all around experts for their take on the past year. We asked them eight questions: from Top Standbys to Top Newcomers, from Best Meals to Restaurant Grievances. All answers will be revealed—cut, pasted, unedited and unadulterated—by the time we pop the cork on 2017.

Q: What were your top restaurant standbys of 2016?

Brittany Werges, 303 Magazine managing editor

This year, you could you could find me at the chefs table/bar at Cho77 and Leña. Both South Broadway joints frequently change their menus, but they also have some tried and true plates that consistently deliver. For me, I aways get the octopus ceviche and the pozole with yuca bread at Leña and the red chili pork dumplings and Thai coconut curry at Cho77. Besides that, about one Saturday a month, I have dim sum at Star Kitchen because I always need more dumplings.

Amanda Faison, freelance writer, former 5280 Magazine editor

Hop Alley (chilled tofu!), La Potranca (tacos al pastor!), Coperta (Sienese peppers and Aperol spritzes!), Vital Root (mango-carrot lassi!), Bar Fausto (farro salad!), Mercantile (Nicoise salad!), Beast & Bottle (sit at the bar!), Onefold (congee!), Globe Hall (ribs!), Dae Gee (seafood pancake!), Cho77 (khao soi!), Brider (sweet potato-avocado salad!), Denver Central Market (everything!)

Andra Zeppelin, Eater Denver editor

Hop Alley, El Taco de Mexico, Acorn, Departure, Uncle (for takeout!), Bar Dough

Rebecca Gart, Colorado Homes & Lifestyles food editor

Hop Alley, Avelina, Acorn, Cart Driver, Mercantile, Matsuhisa

Adam Larkey, Eater Denver photographer

Hop Alley, Bar Dough, Osaka Ramen, Bar Fausto, Central Market, Pon Pon

Denise Mickelsen, 5280 Magazine food editor

Work & Class, TAG Burger Bar (my son loves the mac and cheese with goldfish crumbs on top), Avanti F&B, Sushi Sasa, Bar Dough, El Taco de Mexico

Gigi Sukin, Eater Contributor, CoBiz editor

City O City, North, Departure, Cherry Cricket

Laura Shunk, Westword contributor

Things I missed while I was away: El Taco de Mexico, Pho Duy, La Loma (that moving hype was a good way to sucker me in frequently once I returned). Rosenberg's and Masterpiece continue to compete for my breakfast dollars. Central Market became my de facto office. I think I ate more at Acorn than any other finer dining spot in Denver; that crew is crushing it right now.

Justin De La Rosa, Denver Post contributor

This may come as a surprise to some, but El Camino Community Tavern ended up being my casual spot for celebrating life's milestones throughout the year. The hospitality there is always amazing. James does it right. Otherwise, it's been Avanti, Old Major, or Mister Tuna.

Lori Midson, Denver Life Magazine Food Editor, DiningOut contributor

My standbys this year were Nile Ethiopian, which is my home away from home. I've eaten there at least three dozen times — probably more — and I don't even bother to look at the menu: It's kitfo (raw!), the vegeterian combo and lamb tibs awaze every time. I frequent Homegrown Tap & Dough because it's in my ‘hood and the beer list is excellent, and I love Mercantile Dining & Provision. No matter how many times I eat there, Alex Seidel and his superbly talented kitchen staff surprise me at every turn. I also spent countless hours at Aung's Bangkok Café, El Taco de Mexico, Garibaldi Mexican Bistro, Land of Sushi, Biju's Little Curry Shop, Café Brazil and Acorn, which continues to get better and better. And my go-to for all things bread and pastry is City Bakery Café. I can't get enough of Michael Bortz's pies, soft pretzels and ciabatta. He's made me a bread-head for life.

Rachel Greiman, Eater contributor and photographer

Just like last year, Thai Street Food stayed in our weekly rotation. Also, my husband ate huevos rancheros almost every single Saturday at Denver Fresh Mex on Colfax. You just can't beat $6 for such a gigantic plate of delicious food.

Callie Sumlin, 5280 Magazine assistant food editor

Mercantile Dining & Provision was my go-to this year.

Grace Boyle, Eater Denver contributor

Basta and The Kitchen in Boulder. Work & Class and Spuntino in Denver.

Adam Larkey

Josh Dinar, DiningOut Publisher
Man, there are too many to name them all, but living up in Boulder we can never get enough of Brasserie TenTen, Basta, Blackbelly or Japango. T/ACO with the kids or margs with friends. Amu crushes unique Japanese dining, and Colterra or Carelli's are our favorite date night escapes (close by but a world away). Zeal, Leaf, or Fresh Thymes for healthy food that doesn't taste like "healthy food." Lucille's or the Teahouse for brunch. And always anything Big Red F-related.

Lauren Rapp, Westword contributor

With so many restaurant openings, my standbys sometimes play second fiddle, but there are definitely places I return to over and over again. For breakfast, Crema and Stowaway are always quick and great. Lunches are typically on the go, but Curtis Park Deli and Vert never disappoint. Dinner? Hop Alley, Bones, Cart-Driver, Comida, Park Burger RiNo, and New Saigon. Nice night out? You'll find me at Izakaya Den if I have my way.

Rebecca Treon, DiningOut editor

Vesta, Los Tarascos, Sushi Den, Comal, Tacos Junior, Post Oak Hall, Ohana, Park Burger, and Patzcuaro.

El Taco De Mexico

714 Santa Fe Drive, , CO 80204 (303) 623-3926 Visit Website

City O' City

206 East 13th Avenue, , CO 80203 (303) 831-6443 Visit Website


2639 West 32nd Avenue, , CO 80211 (303) 433-0949 Visit Website

The Kitchen Denver

1560 Wazee Street, Denver, Colorado 80202 (303)623-3127 Visit Website


15 Henry Thomas Drive, , LA 70124 (504) 218-5413 Visit Website

Globe Hall

4483 Logan Street, , CO 80216 (303) 296-1003 Visit Website


95 South Pennsylvania Street, , CO 80209 (720) 638-1859 Visit Website

Cherry Cricket

2641 East 2nd Avenue, , CO 80206 (303) 322-7666 Visit Website

Pho Duy

6968 Wilcrest Drive, , TX 77072 (281) 879-9899

TAG Burger Bar

1222 Madison Street, Denver, CO 80206 303 736 2260 Visit Website


2020 Shattuck Avenue, , CA 94704 (510) 926-6300 Visit Website


827 Colorado Blvd, Denver, CO 80206 (720) 639-9986


1919 19th Street, , CO 80202 (720) 788-7550 Visit Website

Bar Dough

2227 West 32nd Avenue, , CO 80211 (720) 668-8506 Visit Website

Masterpiece Kitchen

, Denver, CO (720) 324-8873


42 South Broadway, , CO 80209 (720) 638-8179 Visit Website

Rosenberg's Bagels & Delicatessan

725 E. 26th Avenue, Denver, CO 80205 (720) 440-9880 Visit Website


400 East 20th Avenue, , CO 80205 (720) 749-4666 Visit Website

Vital Root

3915 Tennyson Street, , CO 80212 (303) 474-4131 Visit Website

Hop Alley

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

Mercantile Dining and Provision

1701 Wynkoop Street, , CO 80202 (720) 460-3733 Visit Website

Departure Restaurant + Lounge

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


1550 17th Street, , CO 80202 (720) 904-6711 Visit Website

Sushi Sasa

2401 15th Street, , CO 80202 (303) 433-7272 Visit Website

Work & Class

2500 Larimer Street, , CO 80205 (303) 292-0700 Visit Website

Cart Driver

, Denver, CO (303) 292-3553

Avanti F&B, a collective eatery

, Denver, CO (720) 269-4778

Bar Fausto

3126 Larimer Street, , CO 80205 (720) 445-9691 Visit Website


1644 Platte Street, , CO 80202 (303) 455-3084 Visit Website


98 Steele St, Denver, CO 80206

The Denver Central Market

2669 Larimer Street, , CO 80205 Visit Website