There are a lot of great open kitchens in Denver restaurants, including those at Il Posto, ChoLon Modern Asian Bistro, Bones, and Rioja. My current favorite, however, is the one at Panzano, located inside the Hotel Monaco. Here, barstool seating gives diners an up-close view of all the hard work, precise timing, and stove-side choreography that goes into each meal.
On a recent Sunday evening, the dining room was packed, which made my front-row kitchen theater seat that much more entertaining. I watched as three female chefs turned out dish after dish—including my own selections: smoky grilled squid served with a light tomato vinaigrette; tagliatelle served carbonara style with chewy cubes of pancetta, sharp grana Padano cheese, and a silky fried egg; and succulent grilled shrimp stuffed with sweet Medjool dates, wrapped in salty pancetta, and topped with Gorgonzola and rosemary honey.
Tip: Because the kitchen counter seats are limited, you'll want to make reservations.
909 17th St., 303-296-3525