At his new Middle Eastern restaurant in the Lower Highlands, opening Wednesday, chef Daniel Asher wants diners to “tear and schmear and reach and dip” on repeat. Ash’Kara, Hebrew slang for f*** yeah, is an exclamation of a restaurant in all-over turquoise and pink. Diners here will see rounds of snacks, small plates, and dips made to be ordered by the handful then passed and shared. Or in Asher’s words: “You nosh!”
Like that other Israeli restaurant that opened this year, wood oven pita is front and center at Ash’Kara, alongside hummus topped in confit tomatoes, black garlic, roasted mushrooms, or herbed feta cheese. Here, too, there are the dips — Aleppo pepper and pomegranate muhammara, tomato chili baba ganoush — and small plates like arak-soaked mussels and Swiss chard-wrapped dolmas stuffed with Israeli pearl couscous. Rotisserie meats abound: duck, lamb, even octopus.
And if Safta’s critical reception in RiNo is any indicator of what Denver could use more of right now, Ash’Kara will be an easy addition to LoHi, even in a spot where just before it (after only seven months) Bremen’s Wine & Tap failed. The team behind neighboring success Señor Bear, nearby Bar Dough, and brand new Morin took this restaurant’s reins; former “Bachelor” Ben Higgins invested, too. Their mark may be felt in the hip setting and the staff. Across the menu, it’s Asher through and through.
Born in Montreal, where he grew up eating some of North America’s best Middle Eastern street food, the chef later moved to and started his cooking career in Chicago, taking periodic trips to the extended family’s Israeli kibbutz. Now he’s paying attention to sourcing while paying respect — to cultures outside his own, to bread bakers, organic farmers, and artisan potters. A few years back, Asher was leading the international kitchens at Linger and Root Down in this same neighborhood. He went on to open his own River and Woods in Boulder, Acreage in Longmont, and Tributary food hall in Golden (still in the works). With Ash’Kara, he’ll bring it back home.
Status: Starting Wednesday, December 19, Ash’Kara opens from 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. weekends at 2005 West 33rd Avenue.