Curious where Taos-born Hosea Rosenberg (of Blackbelly fame) stands on the Colorado versus New Mexico green chile debate? Well, his three-month-old North Boulder restaurant, Santo, is practically a love letter to the Land of Enchantment—check out the bar’s Zia-sun-symbol-inspired light fixture and the wooden saints (“santos”) presiding over the dining room. But Rosenberg’s devotion to his home state doesn’t diminish his commitment to using local ingredients as he crafts modern takes on New Mexican fare. Case in point: The house-smoked trout tostadas are built on tortillas made from blue corn grown by Boulder’s Abbondanza Organic Seeds & Produce. Still, it’s no surprise that Rosenberg turns to Hatch, New Mexico, for chiles. We concede that they do make a mighty pork green chile stew and green chile cheeseburger. (Don’t worry, Pueblo chiles; we still love you.) 1265 Alpine Ave., Boulder, 303-442-6100
When Kyla Love and Mae Saevang opened 9Thai this past April in the former Thai Monkey Club space in Hale, east Denverites rejoiced. Their menu is concise, but each dish is fresh and thoughtfully crafted. Crispy fried-shrimp spring rolls come with tails attached for a crunchy crustacean bonus, and the Mama Noodle seafood tom yum soup is a flavor riot with ramen noodles, plump mussels, and tender rings of squid. The must-order meal, however, is the simple yet haunting 9Thai chicken and rice. Chunks of braised chicken thigh, tender and rich, are served with a mound of white rice studded with thick slices of fresh ginger and garlic. A spicy fermented bean dipping sauce, served on the side, takes the otherwise tame combo into delicious new territory. Once you’ve tasted it, you won’t want to order anything else. 4122 E. Colfax Ave., 303-658-0751
Linda Hampsten Fox’s resumé is akin to a culinary highlight reel: private chef-ing for clients such as Jane Goodall and Dave Matthews? Check. Cooking in Europe for more than a decade? Check. Teaching culinary school in Mexico? Check. Now, she’s sharing her deep knowledge and skills at the Bindery, her three-month-old LoHi restaurant, market, and bakery. The globe-spanning breakfast, lunch, dinner, and brunch menus are reflections of her travels. There’s charred octopus with a smoky agua chile negra sauce; Northern Italian–style ravioli stuffed with radicchio and creamy mascarpone; and slow-roasted osso bucco with chickpeas and olives. And while the space is all high ceilings and minimalist metal tones, it’s also surprisingly cozy, thanks to heated tile floors and the warm welcome you’ll receive from the friendly staff. Hampsten Fox can now add “elevating the LoHi dining scene” to her CV. 1817 Central St., 303-993-2364
Thanks to a collaboration between Denver’s Cultura Craft Chocolate and Leopold Bros., you don’t have to choose between local booze and chocolates this Valentine’s Day. Ten dollars gets you (or your sweetheart) a four-pack of chocolate-covered caramels infused with Leopold Bros.’ apple, cherry, peach, and blackberry whiskeys.