Denver has never been known for its late-night eats. Sure, there are a handful of pizzerias, diners, and the like that cater to night owls, but by and large, getting a truly great meal after 11 p.m. is a challenge in this town.
Enter Izakaya Ronin, the new sister restaurant to Highland’s acclaimed Sushi Ronin. When it debuts on Saturday, it’ll add a much-needed late-night option to Brighton Boulevard, serving food until 1:30 a.m. and staying open until 2 a.m., Wednesdays through Saturdays. Even better? The eats chef-partner Corey Baker is slinging from the Industry building’s lower-level “moguri,” or speakeasy, will all cost under $15, including his award-winning ramen (more on that below).
To get down to that basement bar, you’ll first have to find the entrance to the street-level dining room, where dinner will be served five nights a week. (Hint: The door is located on the northeast side of the Industry Denver building, just past Will Call on the right side). Baker says that he intended the main-floor dining area and bar to have “the same feel and vibe” as Sushi Ronin. The menu of ultra-fresh sushi, sashimi, and rolls is also in line with Sushi Ronin’s pristine offerings.
Come 10 p.m., the doors leading down to the basement-level’s former boiler room open and an utterly different experience awaits. There, you’ll find a room with low-slung wooden booths and, further back, a sparse, red-lit bar area. Baker created an almost entirely new menu of Japanese pub fare for this space, including binchotan skewers, fried bites such as chicken “kara age,” rice bowls, and salads.
The standout, of course, is his Laman tonkotsu ramen, which took home the top honors at Departure Denver Restaurant & Lounge’s recent ramen showdown. To make it, Baker spends three days slowing reducing the chicken- and pork bone-based broth, which is lip-smackingly creamy and rich. It’s loaded with noodles, fried chicharrón, chile crunch, and a traditional “ajitsuke” (soy-marinated) soft-boiled egg.
Seeing that this lower level is a speakeasy, you’ll want to pair the soup with a dram of Japanese whisky. Izakaya Ronin has one of the largest selections in town—including coveted finds such as Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016, which goes for $350 a shot—all curated by beverage director Joshua Beausang.
This is the sort of late-night dining that’s well worth battling construction on Brighton Boulevard to experience.
Izakaya Ronin’s main-floor dining room will be open from 5 to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and the basement speakeasy is open from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., Wednesday through Saturday.
Industry Denver, 3053 Brighton Blvd., 303-953-1602