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Photo courtesy of Sarah Boyum

The Most Stunning Restaurant Menus on the Front Range

A deep dive into the art of menu design.

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1. Emmerson

This nine-month-old Boulder hot spot’s drink menu stars, of all things, images from early issues of sci-fi and fantasy comics magazine Heavy Metal. Cocktail curator and bar manager Nancy Kwon says she wanted to “show powerful women in a positive light using a graphic magazine that’s generally considered male-centric.” Another unique twist: QR codes that lead you to songs Kwon listened to while creating each drink recipe. 1600 Pearl St., Suite 100, Boulder, 303-953-9852

2. The Family Jones Spirit House

Given the name of this five-month-old distillery-restaurant in LoHi, it’s no surprise that family photos were a part of the menu’s concept. “The inspiration grew out of the idea of telling the story of any family using images instead of words,” explains partner Paul Tamburello. The resulting photo-album menu, designed by RiNo firm Consume & Create, has leather edges, the gilded initials “FJ,” and vintage photos inside and out. 3245 Osage St., 303-481-8185

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3. Tatarian

The folks behind Union Lodge No. 1 and the Arvada Tavern based their five-month-old bar on a symbol of the Berkeley neighborhood: the Tatarian maple tree. Created by local graphic designer Nathan Sparks, Tatarian’s coffee-table-worthy menu—which can be yours for $15, with proceeds benefiting the Arbor Day Foundation—features custom logos and images of the plants that inspired each drink. 4024 Tennyson St., 303-416-4496

4. The Cruise Room

The Oxford Hotel’s cocktail bar recently worked with West Highland’s the Made Shop to redesign its menu. The new cover is stamped and folded aluminum, and the inside pages are thick paper stock with gold-foil letterpress stamping in a custom font. “Watching light play over the surface [of the lettering],” says Marke Johnson, the Made Shop’s principal designer, “it really comes alive.” The Oxford Hotel, 1600 17th St., 303-628-5400

5. The Nickel

Housed in Denver’s historic Tramway Building, Hotel Teatro’s the Nickel presents its offerings on menus that feature magnetic coins (guess the denomination), locally sourced leather, retro fonts, and Colorado maps created by the Made Shop. Hotel Teatro, 1100 14th St., 720-889-2128

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