The Mile-High dining scene has never been hotter, and this year was one for the record books. Our definitive list of Denver's 10 best new eateries.
We thought at first there might be something in the water. Everywhere we looked, new restaurants had cropped up around Denver—not just in the usual downtown spots, but also in bustling 'hoods, suburban enclaves, bedroom communities. Suddenly, things are buzzing: new chefs, new projects, new menus, restaurants packed on weeknights. And Denver diners are eating differently. "They're not just eating salads anymore," says Frank Bonanno, chef and owner of Mizuna, Luca d'Italia, and the new Osteria Marco. "They're ordering four courses and bottles of wine on a Thursday."
It's not only Denver's food scene that's on fire; the same is true in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, even London. But here in the Mile-High City, our growth is especially noticeable as the breadth of dining options expands at a dizzying rate. "There are a larger number of restaurants opening in a greater number than I can remember," says seasoned restaurateur Mel Master, who has three spots around town and has owned restaurants in New York and London.
In previous years we had to dig deeper to unearth the newest gems; this year it was all we could do to narrow the choices to 10. And in looking at our winners, it's easy to see certain trends emerging. Of the bunch, four eateries offer Italian-Mediterranean cuisine, just about half are located in the Boulder area, and nearly all offer seasonal menus.
Simple and regional—the year's two buzzwords—come up again and again when looking over these restaurants' menus, tasting the dishes, and talking to the chefs. After years of fancy foams and stacked ingredients, most Denver chefs, like those in the rest of the country, are finding their sweet spot in simplicity. "There's an acceptance of simple being good, not ordinary," says Master. To wit, the offerings at some of these year's winners: bison ribs at Big Hoss, chile-dusted chocolates at French 250, prosciutto, arugula, and mozzarella panini at Osteria Marco. Read on for the rest of the best of 2007.