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The Denver Restaurant, Bar, and Nightlife Blog

Updated: 2017-12-16T13:35:56-07:00


Denver’s Essential Restaurant Fireplaces



Where to warm up this holiday season

Sunshine doesn’t discriminate seasonally here in the Centennial State, so Coloradans are often found with tan lines and clothing layers 12 months a year. Now closing in on the New Year and wondering whether there will be a white Christmas — or any signs of autumn coming to a close, really — we can’t help but picture cozying up by a different source of light and warmth, the roaring flicker of a fireplace.

Throw in a drink to add a humming buzz and an indulgent meal to accompany the glow and crackle, and it’s a date — with or without the company. Turns out there are quite a few places in Denver and beyond that boast a perfect patio pit, corner flame, or oven hearth, but some burn brighter and are more ferocious than others.

Organized from West to East, here is a guide to the 13 Denver-area restaurant fireplaces to snuggle up close to this season.

Chipotle’s Moving Its Headquarters to a New Downtown Skyscraper



The beleaguered Denver-based chain will take up five floors at the 1144 Fifteenth building

Things might be looking up for Chipotle. The Denver-based company this week announced plans to move its headquarters by late 2018 across five snazzy floors at the 1144 Fifteenth building.

The move could be a high point for a burrito chain that has been beaten down over the past few years by food-borne illnesses, lawsuits, and federal investigations. Denver-based Chipotle employees will work from the 40-story office tower — the tallest built downtown since the 1980s — with the option to expand their five-floor footprint in the case of future business growth. Current headquarters are five blocks away on Wynkoop Street.

Chipotle got its start across town in 1993, when then-chef Steve Ells opened a small burrito joint near the University of Denver on Evans Avenue. More than 2,000 locations later, the company’s growth has been matched by a number of setbacks and slumps. Multiple food safety issues from E. Coli to norovirus outbreaks plagued the chain starting in 2015 and as recently as last summer. Late last month, Ells announced he is stepping down from his current role as CEO as Chipotle looks for someone new to step in for recovery. Before the crises, Chipotle’s shares had peaked at over $750 in the summer of 2015; now they’re worth around $315. New store openings are down, sales have been slow to recover, and the Hail Mary of a queso introduction earlier this fall was met with pretty harsh criticism.

“Chipotle is a company that is respected and admired nationwide, and we are proud to add them to our impressive tenant roster,” said Jay Despard, Senior Managing Director of the 1144 Fifteenth building’s developer, Hines. Nearly 25 years after its opening, Chipotle still has deep ties to the Denver community. Robin Hickenlooper, Governor John Hickenlooper’s wife, sits on the board of directors, as does Kimbal Musk, founder of The Kitchen. Pizzeria Locale, with locations in Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, and Ohio, also partners with them.

(image) Courtesy Chipotle
Chipotle’s new headquarters will be spread across five floors in the new 1144 Fifteenth building.

There’s a Festivus For the Rest of Us This Weekend


Plus more local food and drink events you’ll actually want to attend Eater Denver’s events roundup provides a weekly curated rundown of the most interesting local dining and drinking parties, popups, festivals, specials, dinners, and more. Published each week, this is your stop for all the happenings that are actually worthy of your time in Denver, Boulder, and beyond. Every week Eater Denver reporters weed through tips, emails, and listings to bring you the essential food-related happenings — each and every event listed here is a personal recommendation from an Eater staffer, hand-selected because of its intriguing menu, surefire food or drink, or highly rated chef/restaurant involvement. The focus is on events taking place in the next three months, as well as upcoming affairs you’ll want to make reservations or buy tickets for before they sell out. Food and drink events are listed in chronological order. Have an event you’d like listed here? Send it our way at Friday, December 15 Drunk Christmas What: An inebriated cast embraces Christmas and its (drinkable) spirits to raise funds for Audacious Theatre at Fiction Beer Company. The drunken Dickens celebration includes holiday karaoke, auctions, baked treats, and a raffle. Details: Friday, December 15 and Saturday, Dec. 16 at 8 p.m. Reserved tickets start at $15. Saturday, December 16 Annual Tennyson Street Holiday Rumpus & Market What: Call to Arms Brewing Co. adds its spin on traditional German markets for a third year in a row. Sixteen different vendors, local food trucks, and businesses offer their take on market fare as guests sip on seasonal beer releases. Bring a coat (or three) or a pair of shoes to donate to Clothes to Kids Denver and receive beer deals. Details: From noon to 9 p.m. at the brewery. See the event page for details. Denver Beer Festivus What: Air all the 2017 grievances while sampling seasonal and exceptional beers from more than 50 breweries at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum. Grab your favorite festive sweater and honor the Festivus holiday at the Pole of Grievances or silent disco dance floor. Featured breweries include local favorites such as Ratio Beerworks, Call to Arms Brewery, and Mockery Brewing. Food will also be available to purchase. Details: 3 p.m. (VIP) to 7 p.m.; Only VIP “Feats of Strength” tickets are available for $65. Tickets can be purchased online and come with a commemorative glass. Annual Ugly Sweater Party at Black Shirt Brewing Co. What: The brewery hosts its second sweater extravaganza where guests are invited to wear their worst holiday outfits for a shot at prizes. Expect live music and a special tapping of Fourtrack Chai Porter. Details: 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. Updates on the event page. After Hours at The Source What: The Source hosts its monthly after-hours bash, with drinks from the RiNo Yacht Club and seasonal snacks from Smōk rounding out the evening. Bring an item to donate to Beloved Community Tiny Homes Village, and receive a complimentary glass of boozy eggnog. Details: From 10:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.; 21 and over; no cover; details, including a list of donation items, can be found on the event page. Tuesday, December 19 School’s Out For Winter Break: Educator Free Beer Week What: From December 19 through Dec. 22, all those who work in education are invited in for a pint at Factotum Brewhouse. Tuesday features trivia and pizza, Wednesday kicks-off game night, and Friday boasts of live music and food. Details: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Updates on the event page. [...]

Everything to Know About ‘Top Chef: Colorado’ Season 15


Stay tuned for updates as the show unfolds Everyone’s favorite cooking competition TV show is back on the air Thursdays, and this season, it’s set in colorful Colorado. From Denver’s Larimer Square to the fine dining rooms of Telluride, Season 15 of Bravo’s Top Chef spans the state, and includes many of our beloved chefs, attractions, and restaurants. With two Colorado contestants involved, and so much pride at stake, Eater is here to help keep track of it all. From quickfire challenges, to foiled dishes, and the most polite (Please pack your knives and go) Padma smackdowns, here are the latest updates. Not even Top Chef is spared from current politics. Earlier this week, Eater reported that New Orleans chef John Besh has been edited out of an episode from Top Chef Season 15 following recent reports from 25 of his employees who said they had experienced sexual harassment and/or assault while working for him. “Bravo to Bravo for making this decision,” Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio told Eater. More than one questionable appearance and another reference to harassment during the season had to be edited out post production. In light of recent events, the show’s creators and stars wouldn’t have any of it: John Besh Gets Edited Out of Top Chef: Colorado [EATER] src="" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> So far the Colorado Top Chef season is proving to be a nail-biter for its home-state contestants. The season’s premiere started with two faces familiar (or soon to be) to Colorado diners: Carrie Baird, head chef of Denver’s Bar Dough, is a cheftestant; she was also this year’s reader’s choice winner for Eater Denver’s Chef of the Year award. Brother Luck, of Colorado Springs’ Four by Brother Luck, joins her in the 15-contestant lineup. Their first culinary challenge featured some challenging Colorado weather, and one Colorado contestant was in the bottom three by the end of it. Read more about the Colorado weather, scenery, restaurants, and chefs that will appear on the show this season: Top Chef Season 15 Showcases Colorado in a Big Way [EDEN] Eater rounded up the most exciting things to watch for during Top Chef: Colorado — things like weed, bull testicles, surprisingly friendly chef competitors, and the chefs to beat this season. Tanya Holland, owner of Oakland’s Brown Sugar Kitchen, boasts some of the most impressive credentials of all the cast members. Holland received her culinary education in France, is working on two new outposts for her restaurant, has published a couple of cookbooks, and has extensive television experience on shows such as Food Network’s Melting Pot. What to Watch for During ‘Top Chef’ Season 15 [EATER] Bravo TV Top Chef: Colorado kicked off with a block party in Larimer Square Curious about the show’s pull for its previous cheftestants? We tracked down all of Colorado’s former Top Chefs to see what they’re up to these days. From catering companies, to new cookbooks, longstanding restaurants, and traveling projects, the chefs are doing some great work in the culinary world. Check out their restaurants around Colorado, and stay tuned. Turns out kitchen work after Top Chef is a little less stressful and sometimes more successful. Colorado Top Chefs: Where Are They Now? [EDEN] [...]

Party Like It’s 2018 At These New Year’s Eve Bashes



After a whirlwind year, these establishments are ready to help Denverites unwind and gear up for the next one

A whirlwind of restaurant and bar additions, chef shuffles, and new culinary trends arrived on the Denver scene in 2017. Now, eager to embrace the celebration that accompanies the dawn of a new year, local restaurants, breweries, and bars are hosting a variety of raucous parties and rowdy festivities to ring in 2018. Organized from north to south, these 14 hotels, breweries, bars, and restaurants are ready to shake off 2017 and embrace the year to come.

Those looking for a classic and elegant evening can stay at the St. Julien Hotel & Spa in Boulder for a Caribbean-inspired affair, complete with live music and a balloon drop. Vail begins the party with a candlelit mountain descent, followed by fireworks, and a sit-down dinner with live music at Larkspur Events. Carbon Cafe & Bar embraces the bold and seductive at this year’s Kinky New Year’s Ball, while Fort Greene decks its halls in gold and isn't charging a cover. Partying parents can stop by Steuben’s Arvada or any Mici location for an early toast to 2018. Still looking for a dinner reservation? Stay tuned for our guide to dining out on New Year’s Eve.

New Chefs Take the Reins at Wayward, Centro, Panzano, and More



The recent Denver kitchen changes to know about

  • Chef Talia Diele has joined the Wayward team following chef Patrick Kelly’s departure, just three months after opening the restaurant, in October. Diele comes to Wayward most recently from Via Perla and River and Woods in Boulder. Originally from Denver, her background is Italian-focused, with stints at Bella Bistro in Arvada and Terra & Acqua in St. Augustine, Florida. At Wayward, she has created menu items such as a potato agnolotti with broccolini pesto, for dinner, and beet-cured lox with an everything cracker, for brunch. Watch for breakfast and lunch menus in the new year.
  • In Boulder, Johnny Curiel has taken over as the chef de cocina at Centro Mexican Kitchen. Curiel comes most recently from Tag Restaurant Group (Guard and Grace, Los Chingones, and Mister Tuna), and he previously worked with chef Richard Sandoval. Originally from Guadalajara, Curiel has traveled to almost every state in Mexico. His new menu at Centro brings everyday dishes from the Yucatan, Nayarit coast, and Oaxaca to Colorado. On it, find mole negro, shrimp and scallop tumbada, and slow-roasted lamb tacos.
  • A new team of chefs, led by Greg Lucero, has moved into Charcoal Bistro in Wash Park. The 1-year-old sister restaurant to Charcoal in Golden Triangle is switching up its staff in a big way, starting with Lucero, who helped open Charcoal Restaurant, worked under chefs Frank Bonanno and Jennifer Jasinski, and trained for stints at La Folie in San Francisco and Quintonil in Mexico City. Lucero brings to the bistro more new talent in sous chef Ryan Higgins, who previously worked at Mizuna, Bones, and Green Russell, and most recently comes to Charcoal from The Nickel. Finally, Brendan Scott will join them on the line. He worked with Lucero in San Francisco and has staged at Eleven Madison Park, Momofuku Ko, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and Atera.
  • Panzano has launched successful culinary careers for Denver chefs such as Jennifer Jasinski and Elise Wiggins. Now Nic Lebas, orginally from France, takes the reins of the Kimpton Hotel Monaco’s classic Italian restaurant with plans to update the menu starting with daily specials. Lebas’ career began in a hotel near Marseille and continued at San Antonio’s La Cantera, followed by The Waldorf Astoria in Orlando, and Kimpton’s Hotel Zamora in St. Petersburg, Florida.
  • Denver native Joy Williams is the new executive pastry chef for Tag Restaurant Group’s eight concepts. Trained at Johnson and Wales as well as Alain Ducasse’s École Nationale Supérieure de Pâtisserie, Williams now has a decade of pastry experience. She has worked at Denver restaurants from Frasca, to Charcoal, ChoLon, Cho77, and, most recently, all of the Bonanno Concepts. Watch for her desserts across menus at Tag, Guard and Grace, FnG, and more in the coming weeks and months.

Veteran Denver Sushi Chef Debuts a Casual Counter at Stanley Marketplace



Chef Jesus Silva promises Misaki will provide fresh fish at an approachable price in Aurora

Three seafood veterans have opened a sushi restaurant in Aurora’s Stanley Marketplace. Misaki owners Charlene and Robert Thai and chef Jesus Silva all have backgrounds in seafood shipping and sushi restaurant operating; chef Silva previously worked at Osaka Ramen, Sushi-Rama, Sushi Sasa, and, most recently, he opened Silva’s Fish Market in Denver Central Market. The new venture caters to a fast-moving Stanley clientele with all-day “happy hour” prices — most rolls cost between $5 and $7.

Silva and the Thais say this pricing doesn’t reflect the quality of the fish, which they’re sourcing from multiple vendors in California and Japan. Menu offerings include nigiri, vegetarian rolls, and tempura, with ramen bowls forthcoming. Go for the special Misaki roll: tuna poke, avocado tempura, mustard yuzu, and maguro tataki. Or try a Stanley roll with bincho, avocado tempura, tuna tataki, kaiware, negi, and spicy ponzu. (Chef’s special rolls are $11 to $14.)

Status: Misaki is now open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (with a break late afternoons) along the East corridor of Stanley Marketplace.

On Larimer Street, Call Brings a Fresh Take to the Daytime Cafe


A pair of Frasca alumni are front and center at the new restaurant Look for the last two standing bungalows on a developing block in RiNo, and there are Beckon and Call, the first painted deep gray and slated to open in the new year, the latter in all white and open as of Tuesday at 2845 Larimer Street. This bright little cafe is the brainchild of owner Craig Lieberman, chef Duncan Holmes, and beverage director and manager Allison Anderson. Prior to starting Beckon | Call, Holmes was the culinary director of Frasca Food and Wine. Anderson spent seven years managing the bar there. Lieberman founded 34 Degrees crackers next door to the bungalows and is now fulfilling a dream of opening a neighborhood gathering spot. With Holmes’ and Anderson’s vision, Call (and later Beckon) should be just that. “The idea here is to get to know your neighbor, and get to know your neighborhood,” says Anderson from inside the 900-square-foot space. “It’s just big enough to always feel full, and bustling, and happy.” Ryan Dearth The Mavam espresso maker at Call Holmes, together with Anderson and Lieberman, hopes to create a European-style cafe, where patrons are standing around drinking wine and spritzes, eating oysters on the half-shell, ordering loaves of seeded rye to-go, and sitting down for a shaved fennel salad or a cured salmon sandwich. Salads and open-faced sandwiches are priced for a lunch crowd and are also prepared for takeaway. Holmes’ food menu will lean toward hearty Northern European, and Scandinavia in particular, where his heritage is and where he worked for a while in Danish and Swedish kitchens. Call’s decor too is Scandinavian, with a pop-art twist — orange tin can phones hang from the ceiling playing “call”-themed music, and an electric blue sign in the bathroom reads “For A Good Time... .” One of the key art pieces in this minimalist room is a sleek under-the-counter Mavam espresso maker that will pull shots later to be mixed with ginger and turmeric. It’s not a coffee bar, stresses Lieberman, but the coffee won’t be an afterthought, and neither will breakfast pastries from eclairs to lemon tarts. Seating accommodates around 25 people, between the bar rail and a stackable (think Murphy bed) bleacher. Ryan Dearth Bleacher-style seating is available for breakfast and lunch at Call For now, Call is the daytime counterpart to Beckon, which will open next door in early 2018. Together, the concepts resemble others out there but new to Denver. Beckon will provide an evening chef’s table (a la Nashville’s Catbird Seat) with multiple tasting menu options and rotating plates offered in the style of dim sum (see San Francisco’s State Bird Provisions). And Call will eventually house its own later-in-the-day cocktail and beverage program; the team is starting with sodas, shrubs, and tonics. Other developments, too, are on the horizon: A former woodshed in the back of the property will become a cozy private dining room, and a backyard will be transformed into a breezy hangout. Customers are advised to “call back soon” for information on these later additions. Status: Call is now open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at 2845 Larimer Street. Check back for updates on Beckon. Ryan Dearth Bar seating for breakfast, lunch, coffee, or snacks at Call Ryan Dearth Call’s logo found in the restroom Ryan Dearth The telephone at Call Ryan Dearth “Call”-themed music is playing from decorative tin can talkies Ryan Dearth The open kitchen at Call, a breakfast and lunch bar Ryan Dearth A mural outside Call in RiNo Ryan Dearth Call is a transf[...]

Brik on York Says Goodbye on Colfax



Plus more Denver closures and an opening to know this week

So Long Pie and Vino News: Brik on York, sommelier Travis Gee’s two-year-old pizza joint, wine bar, and live music venue at 2223 East Colfax Avenue, closed its doors over the weekend. Appearing on Sunday morning, the restaurant’s Facebook page farewell read: “Brik is officially closed for business my friends. It was a short and beautiful dream, but unfortunately we could not get on top of all the financial constraints that would otherwise allow us to succeed.” Gee, a Colorado native who traveled the world and opened his modern eatery in July 2015 in a revamped wristwatch repair shop, hosted burlesque brunches and passport wine tastings at Brik. No word yet on any future business plans.

Diner Disappearance News: Three separate DJ’s Cafés throughout Denver shuttered after serving breakfast for 12 years. Though the reasons are still unknown, a sign on the door of the 9th and Lincoln corner space says: “DJ’s Café is now closed,” and the phone is disconnected at the Tennyson location. The full note reads: “We are sad to say that DJ’s Café is now closed. We really appreciate all your patronage. We consider you family. Lots of you we have seen get married, have kids, move into the neighborhood and move out. We will miss all of the good times and hope you have success, health and happiness in your life going forward.”

New Food Truckin’ News: Indianapolis-based, delivery-only ClusterTruck launched its so-called ‘secret kitchen’ in Five Points last week. Customers can order food online from more than 100 options across 11 virtual food truck menus, then the items are cooked to-order and dished up within 15 to 20 minutes. Running about $10 a pop, the dishes includes breakfast burritos, cheeseburgers, pad Thai, buffalo mac, and more. It’s all ready for curbside breakfast, lunch, and dinner delivery seven days a week within downtown Denver, City Park West, RiNo, and more neighborhoods.

Where to Dine Around Denver on Christmas Day



Avoid the brunch and dinner stress and dine out this holiday

Around Denver, local restaurants are adding culinary twists on classics this holiday season. So, on Christmas Day, take the stress out of the holiday celebration and try a new tradition: dining out. Denver and Boulder-area restaurants abound with options for Christmas brunch, lunch, and dinner.

Panzano is open on Christmas for the first time in its nineteen year history, while newer additions to the dining scene such as Urban Farmer also make a holiday debut. Que Bueno Suerte, Kachina Southwestern Grill, Jill’s Restaurant, and the Four Seasons Hotel tackle Christmas brunch, with each restaurant adding a different touch to the celebration. And restaurants such as The Nickel and Range honor the holiday with decadent prix-fixe meals. Diners should note that reservations are required for most restaurants.

Prefer to spend Christmas Day at home and the day or night before Christmas out on the town? Check out this round-up of local restaurants open on Christmas Eve.