For brunch: In Cherry Creek, Hedge Row has been serving up a veggie-strong menu since summer. Just in the new year, the restaurant run by The Kitchen team also started peddling brunch fare on the weekends. Homemade sticky buns and donuts are some of the more sinful items on the menu, or there is plenty to eat that will jibe with new year’s resolutions. Think smoked salmon flatbread with cream cheese, egg, and capers; or the wild mushroom toast with a scramble, simple salad, and ricotta salata. (See Denver’s hottest new brunch spots.)
Drinks: Berkeley’s newest bar is practically hidden on Tennyson Street, but the neighborhood is already flocking to see what could come of a former nail salon transformed by the owners of Union Lodge No. 1 and Arvada Tavern. Helmed by a longtime barman of the latter, Tatarian now serves an ambitious lineup of cocktails, all displayed and described lovingly in a little booklet that’s also available for purchase (proceeds go to Denver Digs Trees). The whole theme from drinks to decor is nature, with a vibe along the lines Frank Lloyd Wright meets the mountains — all woods, and tiles, and rich textures. (See where else to drink this winter.)
All day long: At Bremen’s Wine & Tap, new chef Isabel Ranney is taking her herbalist cooking background, combining it with her husband chef Jason Linam’s pasta and bread prowess, tacking on a strong bar program, and putting out some of the more exciting comfort dishes in North Denver. A fan favorite at any time of day is the asparagus pear tartare with avocado and agave lavash crackers. Or go the total opposite direction with homemade biscuits and bacon gravy. Brand new to the menu is Linam’s own sourdough. (See also Denver’s hottest new restaurants.)
Dinner: Pan-Latin is all the rage, with recent notable Denver additions such as Señor Bear and Candela Latin Kitchen. Soon, chef Dana Rodriguez’ Super Mega Bien is sure to be another knockout in this arena. For now, though, there are other groundbreakers to go back to and revisit in the category. This weekend try Leña in its minimalist airy setting on South Broadway. The three-year-old restaurant is a testament not only to pan-Latin cuisine but also to the (now ubiquitous) wood-fired oven. Try all the asado-cooked meats, ceviches, and yucca bread, and order from the house cocktails.
Quick breakfast: Before heading out into the mountains this weekend, stop by El Zarape’s drive-thru window on Federal Boulevard, and pick up a paper bag full of perfectly sized breakfast burritos. These hand-held treats are wrapped in warm, homemade, and lightly fried flour tortillas and filled with eggs, cheese, potatoes, green chili, and a choice of meats — go with chorizo. (See also where to eat burritos around Denver.)