Restaurants: 2015 in Review, What’s Up for 2016
January 7, 2016 • Restaurants
I like to think I’m “in the know” about the Denver restaurant scene. I keep tabs on what Andra Zeppelin is writing about for Eater, what Lori Midson is covering for Zagat, and what Amanda Faison and her team are focused on for 5280. And yet for all of my good intentions, I just can’t seem to make a dent in my list of “must try” restaurants in Denver. It’s not for lack of trying, let me assure you! I checked out no less than 14 new places in 2015 – and considering that I was out of the country for about 10 weeks this year, and out of commission with knee surgery for another 6 weeks, that means I hit those 14 restaurants in just 8 months. So here are my lists – what I loved in 2015, what I’m not sure I’ll return to, and what’s up for the coming year.
Bistro Barbes – surprisingly upscale food in an unlikely hole in the wall spot – worth a trip.
Old Major – pig heaven, from the first bite of appetizer to the maple bacon flan for dessert – come hungry!
Guard and Grace – recently named best steak house in Colorado, but I said that as soon as I ate here. Plus a huge raw bar selection in a swank setting – great for a special night out.
Plimoth – I dined here with a friend who is a vegetarian, and we feasted on dishes like this cauliflower gratin. When we were there, it was packed and they had plans to expand.
The Populist – I came because it was on so many lists, but I was blown away by the 7-course tasting menu for two. Seriously, that’s a deal, and it was delicious to boot.
Work & Class – sometimes you are just too busy enjoying great food with friends and you forget to take any food photos. It’s busy here and hard to get in (no reservations) so go early for happy hour like we did and pig out, like we did.
Cho77 – I’m a huge fan of Chef Lon Symensma and couldn’t wait for his new spot on Broadway to open. It’s great “street food” and I had a quick weeknight dinner here with my husband.
Cooper Lounge – one of my favorite things about coming here is they bring your cocktails on a little silver platter that seems oh so civilized. One of my other favorite things is the fancy foods that you can enjoy as sort of snacks with your drinks. Come for cocktails (make a reservation) and snacks and look down on the scene below in the fabulous Union Station. (And if you’re wondering what Chef Lon Symensma is doing with a place like this, remember his French culinary training came way before his Asian passion.)
Tengu – I was invited to a launch party here for the winter issue of Nourish magazine (I have an article appearing in the next issue!) so I only got to grab a few bites of various foods haphazardly, but it was good, different, and I think worth returning.
Others – and my thoughts on the experiences:
Chop Shop (lunch) – not great location, not that exciting.
Brazen Denver (brunch) – seems pretty much like the standard brunch dishes everywhere else.
Sartos – not a great meal, although in all fairness they fired their chef the next day.
Blackbird – great for families, but not my kind of spot.
Avanti – Farmer Girl – Avanti is an interesting concept, and if I were young and living in this ‘hood, I’d be a regular – but not worth the drive and hassle for me to head there for basically food truck service.
And now for the real challenge – there are no fewer than 20 spots on my “want to try” list for this year, plus another 6 highly anticipated new openings, and at least 10 spots that I do love that I’d really like to get back to this year. That means I have 3 dozen restaurants to make it to. I’ll be away for probably 2 total months this year, so that means I pretty much need to dine out somewhere new nearly once a week if I’m going to make it through this list. Well, wish me luck and call me if you’re hungry!
To Try in 2016
Bacon Social House
Brik on York
Desmond Bar & Grill
Humboldt Farm Fish Wine
To the Wind Bistro
Williams and Graham
Yum Yum Spice
Coming Soon – somehow I need to try these too!
Coperta – Paul Reilly of Beast & Bottle
The Way Back
Vital Root – Justin Cucci
Might Might Sparrow & The Sea Maiden
New venture in Denver from the folks at Frasca
And then there are these great places – I’d sure love to get back to them soon!
Guard & Grace
Mercantile Dining & Provision
Stoic & Genuine
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