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Kachina’s Navajo tacos employ pillowy pieces of fry bread instead of tortillas. Photo by Adam Larkey

The Highlight Reel: March’s Tastiest Food News

A monthly review of happenings in the Denver dining scene from 5280’s food team.

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Keeping up with Denver’s ever-changing, always-growing dining scene can be challenging. For this reason, we bring you “the Highlight Reel,” a monthly recap of everything you need to know about dining out in (and around) the Mile High City. We’ll talk about the month’s hottest openings and news, as well as closings and what we’re looking forward to in the month to come.

For more 5280 food and drink coverage, subscribe to our award-winning, weekly email newsletter, Table Talk.

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Poka Lola
The “Improved Jungle Bird” cocktail (overproof rum, pineapple phosphate, Campari, lime) at the new Poka Lola Social Club. Photo by Callie Sumlin

Recent Openings

On March 2, Quality Italian opened inside Cherry Creek’s Halcyon Hotel. The New York City-import serves a mix of upscale, steak house fare and playful takes on red sauce-joint favorites, such as baked lasagna for two with filet mignon meatballs.

LoHi residents have a new suds stop: Zuni Street Brewing Co., which opened on March 8, boasts a concise brew menu and an outdoor vibe. Bonus: Multiple patios and yard games!

On Pi Day (March 14), Hinman’s Bakery opened its doors to the public in Park Hill. The wholesale spot has been baking for local restaurants since 2015, but now customers can stroll in for egg sandwiches, croissants, and, of course—Hinman’s famous pies.

Otra Vez Cantina, a new Mexican concept from the Tavern Hospitality Group, opened on the 16th Street Mall on March 20.

The Infinite Monkey Theorem’s Stanley Marketplace taproom opened on March 23. You’ll find a sophisticated-yet-comfy vibe and wines-by-the-glass—or straight out of the can.

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Comal
Friday lunches at Comal feature Syrian food, such as this tangy chicken and potato curry with rice. Photo by Callie Sumlin

On March 24, Comal’s new class of Syrian immigrants began serving lunch. Drop by Taxi’s heritage food incubator every Friday for dishes such as creamy hummus, chicken and potato curry, and stuffed grape leaves.

On March 27, north Boulder’s Decadent Saint Winery reopened with an upgraded tasting room and a new roommate: Wild Cider. Patrons can enjoy wine, cider, and pizza at the spacious new tasting room.

On March 28, LoDo’s Dairy Block—which encompasses the Maven Hotel, Kachina Southwestern Grill, and Poka Lola Social Club—officially opened its doors. Head to for Kachina for southwestern fare (get the fry bread tacos!) and Poka Lola for a soda fountain-inspired speakeasy experience.

Blue Sparrow Coffee opened in RiNo’s Backyard on Blake development on March 30. The stylish new shop features espresso and a variety of on-tap drinks such as Japanese-style iced coffee and nitro cold brew.

Mountain favorite Smokin’ Daves BBQ has taken up residence in the former Great Scotts Eatery right off the Boulder turnpike.

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Closings

Five Points’ Handy Diner, a vegan spot, closed in early March.

Owlbear Barbecue, a much-praised barbecue truck parked at Finn’s Manor, packed up and drove off into the sunset on March 15. There’s good news for ‘cue lovers, however: Owlbear is currently working on a brick-and-mortar location just blocks away from Finn’s Manor, which should open within a matter of months.

Downtown’s Baur’s Restaurant & Listening Lounge closed on March 15.

After over a decade in business, Berkeley’s Cafe 44 closed at the end of March.

Jake’s Sports & Spirits closed this month. The space will soon be home to the RiNo Beer Garden.

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Masterpiece Kitchen
Justin Brunson has retooled Masterpiece Kitchen’s dinner menu, banishing burgers in favor of dishes like this hamachi crudo. —Photo by Callie Sumlin

News

Big news: Bravo’s Top Chef is headed to the Mile High City. The show will film its 15th season in Denver, Boulder, Telluride, and the surrounding mountain areas.

Colorado has two finalists in the running for James Beard Awards this year: Boulder’s Frasca Food and Wine is up for Outstanding Restaurant, while chef Steve Redzikowski of Oak at Fourteenth, Acorn, and Brider is up for Best Chef, Southwest.

Husband-and-wife culinary duo chef John Broening and pastry chef Yasmin Lozada-Hissom have left Avelina, the LoDo restaurant they helped open in September.

In addition to transforming Lowry’s Masterpiece Kitchen from an American bar and grill into a higher-end small plates spot, Denver restaurateur Justin Brunson is working on something big: Rocky Mountain Charcuterie, 6,000-square-foot meat processing plant that will open soon in Denver. RMC will specialize in deli meats, sausages, salumi, and more.

Citizen Rail, the new restaurant in the Kimpton Hotel behind Union Station,  is slated to start serving its brand of American Heritage cuisine this summer.

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Owners of the Arvada Tavern, Union Lodge No. 1, and Kline’s Beer Hall are opening up Tatarian, a cocktail bar, on Tennyson in Berkeley at the end of the summer.

The Denver-Austin connection strikes again: Highly acclaimed Austin-import Uchi is coming to Curtis Park in 2018, while Chuy’s, a beloved, Austin-based Mexican food chain, will open a location in Westminster later this year.

Morning Collective
Morning Collective, a new a.m. eatery in the Rosedale neighborhood, offers all sorts of crazy takes on classic pancakes and French toast, from pistachio-tres leches with a cream cheese center to stuffed banana hazelnut. Image courtesy of Take You Wild Photography

 

What We’re Looking Forward To In April

Two restaurants in Stapleton’s long-awaited Eastbridge development should open in April: Cattivella, chef Elise Wiggins’ ode to rustic Italian fare, and Concourse, a European-influenced progressive American destination from chef-owner Lon Symensma and executive chef-owner Luke Bergman.

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On April 3, Morning Collective will open its doors on South Broadway. The retro-chic spot, which comes from a variety of Snooze alums, is serving up lighthearted takes on classic breakfast—strawberry cheesecake pancakes with molten centers, etc.

On April 4, the Pink Tank food truck takes over the kitchen at the Pub on Pearl in Washington park West. Expect the same menu of wacky eats such as spicy chicken and waffles topped with hot sauce ice cream and salted caramel sweet potato fries.

Both Glazed & Confuzed and Maria Empanada are slated to open their Stanley Marketplace locations in April.

Burger lovers, rejoice: On April 11, the Cherry Cricket will reopen. The storied spot has been closed since a kitchen fire in November.

Part art gallery, part vintage-inspired speakasy Millers & Rossi will open in RiNo in April.

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Colorado Natural Wine Week—a celebration of sustainable, organic, and biodynamic vinos— returns for its fourth year from April 17 through 23.

Birdcall, a new, high-tech concept from the team behind Park Burger and Homegrown Tap & Dough, is slated to start serving fried chicken in the former Tom’s Home Cookin’ location.

Colombian food truck La Chiva is planning to open its brick-and-mortar location in Platt Park.

Señor Bear, the latest from Bar Dough chef Blake Edmunds, Juan Padro, and chef Max Mackissock, should open in the former Jezebel’s space in April.

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