In the early 2000s, there weren’t many places in Denver pinned on the culinary map. It was, to put it mildly, a giant cow town. A decade or so later, hundreds of restaurants now dot the city. Just in 2015, about 250 eateries joined the ranks. But it’s not just the booming quantity of establishments, but the quality of them, too. Then again, that’s not surprising given superb chefs like Troy Guard, Paul C. Riley and Justin Brunson outdoing themselves at each turn and having a sense of local and seasonal fare permeating many Denver menus.
Today, you could visit the Mile High City and never get through all the worthy dining places, but next time you stop over, consider giving these seven soon-to-open spots a go.
Fans of the Uptown restaurant Beast + Bottle, get excited — the brother-and-sister team behind this popular farm-to-table venue are at it again. Paul and Aileen Riley’s latest concept in the same neighborhood brings Italian comfort food to the forefront. You can expect a strong focus on pasta and single ingredient-driven plates; fish, meat and vegetables coming off a wood-fired grills; lots of seasonal produce; fresh mozzarella; and a hefty Italian wine list. The plan is to open the doors come spring or early summer 2016.
Blue Moon’s Experimental Brewery and Restaurant
Most people are familiar with the sunny wheat beer Blue Moon, which is owned by the Colorado-based mega brewery Coors. Later this year, the company will open the doors on a new space in RiNo (aka River North) that will bring food to the unique beer-drinking experience. The plan is to take the 27,000-square-foot space and split it evenly between the eatery and the brewery, giving plenty of room for Blue Moon fanatics to come drink, dine and be merry.
Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson’s Project
The latest eatery from the Stuckey and Mackinnon-Patterson empire is yet to be named, but given they won’t open until the end of 2016, there isn’t any rush. They do have a location — 16th Street between Wewatta and Wynkoop streets, right in the heart of downtown.
This project is part of the A Block at Union Station development. So, the good news for car-saturated Denver comes in the form of a subterranean parking garage (translation: easy access to this anticipated restaurant). As for the food, the 125-seat space will serve dishes that mesh the team’s other two Boulder hot spots, Frasca Food & Wine and the mini chain Pizzeria Locale. Expect gourmet pies, local American fare, a dash of Italian flair and a superb wine list — the latter is a given considering master sommelier Stuckey is involved.
Restaurateur and chef Troy Guard is once again working on a gem of a concept to open this summer. Welcome Mister Tuna, a New American restaurant that focuses on wood-fired cooking, Colorado ingredients and dishes inspired by the chef’s world travels. Guard, who is known for culinary winners including TAG and Guard and Grace, will debut the new 115-seat space in INDUSTRY, an office, housing, retail and restaurant development opening in the hip RiNo district this summer. Unlike his other joints, Mister Tuna is an ode to his father, who not only carries this title as a nickname but loved the type of food the restaurant will offer.
Justin Cucci, the restaurateur behind Linger, Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox and Root Down is at it again. Come this summer, he will debut L5, a chic joint that will sit adjacent to Linger in Lower Highland. Of course, the LoHi address means you can expect stunning views of east Denver and plenty of nights eating Mediterranean tapas on the venue’s large, open-air patio.
The Way Back
Nosh in style at this just-opened cocktail lounge and restaurant in the Highland neighborhood. Behind the project are partners Chad Michael George, Jared Schwartz and Kade Gianinetti, veterans of swank drinking den Williams & Graham and the popular American Grind food truck. At the new establishment they source sustainable supplies from local and ethical farms. Carefully curated cocktails and local craft beers are also a big draw.
Chef and restaurateur Justin Brunson has wowed Denver diners with his sleek meat palace Old Major and his not-so-fancy delicatessen Masterpiece Deli. Now, he’s combining the two at Masterpiece Kitchen, a sit-down eatery featuring a full bar, menu of delectable sandwiches and slightly more-upscale surprises (gnocchi mac and cheese, anyone?). The 110-seat, 2,600-square-foot space just opened in early March.