Amid the darkest, dreariest days of winter, Denverites can still bask in the light of the hottest restaurant and bar openings around town. Unlike the Eater 38, which is meant to serve as a guide to the best of the best, this quarterly updated roundup aims to introduce readers to the best of the new: what’s popular, what’s promising, and what’s poised for success in the weeks to come. Included here in geographical order from north to south are 10 noteworthy spots that all opened, or reopened after a long hiatus, within the past six months.Read More
The Hottest Restaurants in Denver Right Now, Winter 2024
The most exciting new restaurant and bar openings in Denver and its surrounding metro area
The friends and fans that baker Allison Declercq made through countless pop-ups over the past few years are now following her to this cheerful daytime cafe in the Regis neighborhood, where she and husband Colton Steiner keep those sought-after breads, pastries, pizzas, and breakfast sandwiches coming. Not to be missed when available are the turmeric–roasted garlic loaf, the cheeseburger pie by the slice, and the peanut butter–miso cookies; those who can’t get enough of the place by day also shouldn’t miss the pizza and ice cream parties the couple throws from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays.
Nana’s Dim Sum & Dumplings
Bursting onto the scene in October with a Boulder sibling right behind it and more locations in the works, this LoHi purveyor of diverse Chinese dishes became an overnight smash hit as much for its atmosphere as its food. Lit with red lanterns, the former Old Major/Fifth String space emits supper-clubby vibes that make cocktails like the Ginger Dragon Margarita, rather than tea, feel like just the thing to go with truffle soup dumplings, beef pancake rolls, and black bean spareribs.
Modern, chic decor signals what’s in store at this LoHi bistro: more or less traditional French fare, from onion soup to pâté to steak frites, though the menu makes room for some original creations as well — hamachi crudo with spiced brown butter, coconut, pickled salsify, and finger lime, for example. The wine list follows suit; that said, locals in the neighborhood seem to have pegged Jacques as a hot new cocktail spot.
The Culinary Creative Group’s latest venture marks the triumphant return of chef Corey Baker to a prominent place in the Denver dining scene after a few-year hiatus. In an urbane, dramatically lit LoHi space, he and his team are turning out not only the meticulously conceived sushi and sashimi for which he’s long been known but also all manner of Japanese plates that merit exploration, including luscious miso-broiled eggplant topped with bubu arare and a delightful sando of fried pork, Napa cabbage, Asian pear, and curry aioli on milk bread. (Head to the adjacent Bar Kumo for a nightcap, and a whole other menu awaits, complete with curry udon and Spam musubi.)
Not to be confused with Kumoya a few blocks away, this cozy izakaya has been thronged since November with in-the-know types who can’t quit its eclectic brand of Japanese cuisine. From bright and creamy kani salad, to luscious beef tataki with persimmon and miso-aged tofu, to a robust dish of rice cakes with shiso-flecked chicken meatballs in tan tan sauce, the menu takes all sorts of intriguing twists and turns through tradition — and so does the bar, serving up the likes of yuzu-infused sake bombs and shochu-based Negronis.
Alma Fonda Fina
In a warm-toned space, chef Johnny Curiel is serving up some of most complex and soulful Mexican food to be found in this town. Sit at the chef’s counter to engage with his amiable and knowledgeable team as they prepare stunners like agave-roasted sweet potato with broken salsa macha and fennel-whipped requeson, cold-smoked bigeye tuna in wild-mushroom aguachile, and adobo-braised lamb shank with refried corn beans — all of which pair well with a glass of wine from Baja California or an avocado margarita.
Technically, Traveling Mercies is a bar, not a restaurant, but given that it’s James Beard Award winner Caroline Glover’s bar, it earns a spot on this list. Tucked away in a snug space on the third level of Aurora’s Stanley Marketplace, it’s a showcase for the skills of Glover’s beverage team, who supplement cocktails like The Fool’s Progress (rhum agricole, rye, banana, cardamom, and absinthe) with a charming wine selection and an equally winning, albeit small, selection of snacks — oysters chief among them.
Samosa Shop at Honor Farm
Come to Honor Farm for the cocktails; stay for the samosas. Dave Hadley has officially set up shop in the LoDo bar, where he’s not only frying the namesake pastries with fillings both traditional and creative — think crab rangoon or chicken pot pie — but also whipping up original takes on what he bills as Indian American street food: “birria tacos” made with vindaloo chicken and roti, for example, or lamb-kebab smash burgers, or fries loaded with tikka masala sauce, cheese, coriander chutney, and curry-leaf aioli. Better still, he’s doing it all until 1 a.m. on weekends — and come February, he’ll be branching out to Sunday brunch service.
Much to many Denverites’ delight and surprise, this iconic destination is back in business after closing in fall 2022. Granted, for the time being, the menu at chef-owner Gaku Homma’s self-styled “Japanese country restaurant” is smaller than it used to be, and the hours are more limited (11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday). But the remarkable setting remains the same: The dining room evokes some woodcutter’s cottage out of an old folktale, while the garden it leads to is among the most enchanted spots in Denver.
MAKfam is all kinds of cool, from its quirky decor with pops of neon to a cocktail list that may feature red bean orgeat one day, pork belly–washed bourbon the next. But the menu at this fast-casual Chinese eatery in Baker radiates pure comfort: Built to some extent on owners Kenneth Wan and Doris Yuen’s family recipes, it’s a craveable compendium of crab-cheese wontons with duck sauce, málà wings with Thai basil ranch for dipping, shrimp XO fried rice, stir-fried beef noodles, and more.
Also featured in: