As the days begin to darken and the temperatures dip, 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 13 noteworthy restaurants and cafes that all opened, or reopened after a long hiatus, within the past six months.Read More
The Hottest Restaurants in Denver Right Now, Fall 2023
The most exciting new restaurant and bar openings in Denver and its surrounding metro area
Call Your Mother Deli
This self-styled “Jew-ish” deli’s first location outside of the Washington, D.C. area brings not only honey-kissed bagels but a slew of sandwiches and sweets to a candy-colored space in the Berkeley hood (a second outpost is coming to Capitol Hill next month). Signatures include the Gleneagle — candied-salmon cream cheese, cucumbers, crispy shallots, and lettuce on a za’atar bagel — and the Inside-Out tuna melt on an everything bagel; lavender-honeycomb lattes and confetti cookies make for a square meal.
Though primarily a bakery that built a solid fan base during the pandemic, this mom-and-pop Wheat Ridge shop supplements such sweet treats as Basque cheesecake, salted-maple cinnamon buns, and lemon-ricotta puffs with a variety of sandwiches on house-baked bread, slices of Roman-style pizza, and other savory goodies. The plant-filled space is small, with just a few tables, and the hours are limited — Thursday–Sunday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. — but the feel-good vibes are huge (made all the bigger by the occasional dinners the owners host in collaboration with other local purveyors; follow them on Instagram for details).
Kiké's Red Tacos
In tacos, tortas, burritos, ramen, and more, delectable birria — beef or goat — is the pride and joy of this family-run food truck–turned–fast-casual hot spot in Sunnyside. Lines out the door form at peak hours, but margaritas and micheladas from the full bar ensure the wait time flies by.
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Pho King Rapidos
Long Nguyen and Shauna Seaman’s acclaimed Vietnamese-inspired food truck has morphed into this equally popular stall at Avanti Food & Beverage in LoHi, where signatures like the pho bánh mì and supremely comforting chicken over rice are supplemented by coconut-braised pork belly sliders, luscious garlic noodles, and more. (See also Thuy by PKR.)
Fox and the Hen
The brainchild of Top Chef alumna Carrie Baird, this sunny new brunch spot in LoHi focuses first and foremost on “fancy toast,” be it a tuna melt with albacore conserva and sharp cheddar or a classic croque monsieur. But it also has a way with huevos, burritos, and cheese-smothered hash browns — all best washed down with kicky cocktails tricked out with everything from chicharrones to Pop Rocks.
Rooted Craft American Kitchen
Bright, plant-bedecked, and flanked by an outdoor lounge, this contemporary restaurant has quickly made itself at home in the Highlands, where chef Nicholas Kayser crafts comfort food with class — think avocado bruschetta with gigante beans and bottarga; endive salad with pomegranate, kumquat, Stilton, and bacon lardons; and cornmeal-crusted cod on brioche with capers and caviar aioli. The bar maintains the easy-breezy vibe with, say, Sherry Cobblers and G&Ts infused with yuzu and Fresno chiles.
Look at the size of this place: Taking up nearly 15,000 square feet in RiNo, it’s home to multiple bars, a huge outdoor space and stage for live entertainment, and, of course, a kitchen turning out a Southern-influenced menu similar to the one that earned the original Miami location a James Beard Award nomination. Fried chicken is the house specialty, but items like the fried green tomato BLT, lobster mac-and-cheese, and bourbon-bacon chocolate cake come close to stealing its thunder.
Denver’s doyenne of dumplings, Penelope Wong, has finally got a brick-and-mortar space in which to ply her extraordinary craft — turning out not only, say, chicken-chive dumplings in khao soi curry and her own special twist on chili wontons with pork-and-shrimp filling but also dan dan noodles, Friday-only Asian breakfast dishes like Thai yaam kai dao, and other items from a regularly changing menu paired with drinks from the full bar. And she’s not alone: Yuan Wonton, which is open Wednesday and Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., shares its casual Park Hill dining room with Vietnamese outfit Thuy by PKR (open Thursday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday–Saturday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.) and bakery Sweets & Sourdough (open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday through Sunday).
Red Tops Rendezvous
Joining Fox and the Hen (see above) in the Culinary Creative Group’s ever-growing restaurant empire is this Jefferson Park pizzeria, where vaguely retro, Motor City–inspired decor jibes with cheesy-crunchy Detroit-style pies like the Italian Beef with provolone, giardiniera, and jus on the side as well as a well-priced wine list and cocktails such as the Red Pop with Traverse City Cherry Whiskey. Kick it all off with an order of the “bar nuts,” actually a mix of crispy pepperoni, chickpeas, and parmesan.
What may be Denver’s most famous landmark, thanks to South Park, has finally reopened after a ride nearly as wild as anything you’ll find inside. The Mexican-themed carnival of a restaurant — waterfalls and caves, cliff divers, magic and puppet shows, arcade, and all — is just as many a Denverite remembers it from their youth; the food, however, has undergone a much-needed overhaul courtesy of none other than Dana Rodriguez (Work & Class, Super Mega Bien, Cantina Loca), as have the drinks. Also new is that entrance now requires tickets: For more information, visit its website.
The Porchetta House
Working out of Spices Cafe, AJ Paloni is a maestro of Italian roast pork, which he piles onto sandwiches or loads onto fries. The Original comes with arugula and pink-peppercorn Kewpie mayo; the Al Pastor features achiote-rubbed porchetta, caramelized pineapple pico, and cotija; and on the Bánh Mì find meat marinated in red miso and accompanied by pickled veggies, cilantro, and black sesame–infused Kewpie. A few other items, like lollipop chicken wings and mozzarella sticks — along with the occasional special (such as a porchetta Cubano) — round out the menu, which is offered late night to serve patrons of the Tight End Bar next door.
One of the most anticipated openings of 2023 is living up to the hype. In a light and airy space in the Lowenstein Cultureplex, Ni and Anna Nguyen serve what they bill as “nontraditional Vietnamese” cuisine, which to date has meant handsomely composed, deceptively simple dishes like bánh ngọt chiên, or crispy veal sweetbreads with fish sauce caramel and gochugaru, and bánh mì cà tím, or roasted tomato toast with crispy shallots in tomato vinaigrette — all of which the small but smart beverage list is carefully curated to complement.
In a handsome, earth-toned space brightened by pops of sapphire, Aminata Dia has brought the Senegalese-inflected French cuisine that made her and her sister Rougui stars in the DTC to Hale’s 9+CO development. There, she’s turning out not only French onion soup, escargot, moules frites, and other Parisian classics but also the likes of Brie with baobab–stone fruit preserves, poulet yassa, and merguez with herb mustard and pear. Cocktails such as the tequila-based, hibiscus-infused Le Bissap underscore the theme.