Denver Hot Spots: 8 Great New Restaurants

Denver Hot Spots: 8 Great New Restaurants 2Argyll Gastropub
2700 E. Third Ave.
Denver, Colorado 80206

This convivial Cherry Creek gastropub unleashes a dry sense of humor (love the fang-bearing wild boar’s head on the wall), cask-conditioned ales on the weekends, formidable beer and wine rosters, the dandiest patio in Cherry Creek and a superb menu, courtesy of exec chef Sergio Romero, that’s an esoteric love poem, at least in part, to righteous gastronauts who love that Romero’s board is whimsy, playful and intensely pleasurable. He flings pork, rabbit, duck and lamb around like most pastry chefs sling sugar; his Scotch egg should be in the same display case as the Fabergés, and the macaroni and cheese, a dream of cream, butter and five cheeses, is worth the cardiac arrest.

701 Grant St.
Denver, Colorado 80203

Frank Bonanno is a chef with four kitchens and more accolades (and, some would say, enemies) than Tiger Woods. He dashes from restaurant to restaurant (in between posting tweets about mortadella pyramids, Taleggio brood and pistachio zabaglione) to command his galleys and stalk the dining rooms. At Bones, his newest joint, he bowls us over with noodles – ramen, soba, udon, egg – all of which are bolstered by steaming hot, lush broths drifting with everything from lobster and shredded pork to mustard greens and lemongrass.

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The menu at Cafe Options

Café Options
1650 Curtis St.
Denver, Colorado 80202

Café Options, an unembellished breakfast and lunch spot that’s run by a stronghold of women who’ve gotten a second lease on life through Work Options for Women, the local non-profit that turns out the girl power that makes Café Options hum, effortlessly found its downtown groove, turning out inspiring sandwiches and salads, assembled with unassailable ingredients. The sandwiches are fat, filling and delicious (especially the French dip), and the salads, particularly the green papaya salad tumbling with braised pork, or the roasted root vegetable salad cloaked in a tomato-buttermilk dressing, are sensational. Even the scones and steel cut oatmeal are special.

Colt & Gray
1553 Platte St.
Denver, Colorado 80202

Long before chef/owner Nelson Perkins and his partner Brad Rowell opened Colt & Gray in Riverfront, Denver foodniks were falling all over themselves as excited whispers of the gastropub menu leaked out: pig’s trotters, roasted marrow bones, lobster bangers and mash, foie gras terrine, housemade charcuterie, oysters and handcrafted burrata. Colt & Gray is a serious restaurant meant for equally serious foodophiles, a bona fide shrine to the toe-to-tail movement that’s complemented by a fascinating cocktail program (the ice alone is worth the price of admission) and an elegantly sophisticated dining room and bar that’s hip, but not haughty.

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LoHi SteakBar

LoHi Steak Bar
3200 Tejon St.
Denver, Colorado 80211

The bar is louder than an ‘80s hair band. There’s a prominent community table to share conversation. A gazillion bottles of A1 Steak Sauce double as decorative elements. And the wait staff is so genuinely friendly that you want to immediately add them as Facebook friends. In other words, LoHi SteakBar is the kind of kick-ass stomping ground that you want in your own ‘hood – especially if the kitchen is patrolled by Sean Kelly, the pillar of Denver’s food pyramid. Kelly’s turning out unassailable house-ground burgers, juice-spitting steaks that rival others twice as expensive and the most impossibly flawless chocolate pudding on the planet.

719 E. 17th Ave.
Denver, Colorado 80203

One of the most highly anticipated restaurants of 2009 was this clattering, buzzy haunt with its windowed corner kitchen peeking out over Uptown. The husband/wife duo of John Broening and Yasmin Lozada-Hissom, both of whom, incidentally, cooked together at Olivea’s sister restaurant, Duo, perform pure magic in their kitchen. They deliver a gong of charcuterie – duck liver mousse, lamb sausage, smoked duck breast, boudin blanc, pork belly and, if you’re lucky, Broening’s spectacular head cheese – complemented by seasonally-inspired hits like the pork porterhouse adulterated with escarole, gigante beans and a dusting of fennel pollen.

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Denver has many places to gather for good food.

The Squeaky Bean
3301 Tejon St.
Denver, Colorado 80211

Let’s get this out of the way, right off the bat: The name has nothing whatsoever to do with coffee beans, but with the way a green bean “squeaks” when you run it across your teeth. With that understood, this lovely Highlands neighborhood space is long and narrow, cozy and friendly, irreverent with a Farrah Fawcett shrine behind the bar and communicative of a genuine lack of pomposity. It extols the talents of Max Mackissock, who keeps his focus firmly on the food, turning out a mighty fine pig platter, chicken liver mousse with housemade preserves, beef cheeks and a duck confit sandwich, all of which he knocks out of the city.

1441 Larimer St.
Denver, Colorado 80202

There are so many reasons to love Troy Guard, chef/owner of Tag: He worships – and liberally makes the most of – duck fat; the first dish on his playfully quirky menu is a ceviche shooter; his French onion soup dumplings make you suspend your jaw in reverence; the dude cooks with Pop Rocks for chrissakes; and his foreplay of tiger shrimp, lobster sambal butter and Scottish salmon is aptly named the ménage a trios. Add to that a trippy (in a completely good way) cocktail program, a bold and striking dining room that’s suffused with sophistication and a front row seat into Guard’s exposed culinary laboratory, and it’s no wonder the whole experience is so infectious.

Lori Midson, restaurant critic for Colorado Avid Golfer (, lives in Denver and writes for a variety of publications.