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.
Izakaya Den1518 S. Pearl St., 303-777-0691
It's been dubbed Sushi Den II, but Izakaya Den is more than a replica of its popular cousin. You can still order ultrafresh sushi and sashimi, but the most exciting dishes come in the form of small plates. Small plates and world fusion may sound tired, but a few bites of wild mushroom and Gruyère tartelettes with Japanese eggplant baba ghanouj or seared Kobe beef medallions with edamame and watermelon will convince you otherwise. Owner Toshi Kizaki hopes diners will experiment a bit—nibble this, sip that, and generally mix things up by dining on a waffle paired with blackened Arctic char, jícama with diver scallops, hoisin duck with crème fraîche. We're so taken with the concept that we've tasted our way through most of the menu and have yet to find a dish that doesn't surprise and satisfy. Equally exciting is the space itself. Located diagonally across from Sushi Den in a building that resembles a bank from the outside, Izakaya opens into a glamorous, airy space with vaulted ceilings, huge dangling Japanese lanterns, and rustic lacquered beams crisscrossing overhead—the effect calls to mind scenes from the Last Samurai. Our only complaint is that in a space so well orchestrated and concepted, servers seem underdressed in baggy T-shirts and black pants.
Opened August 2007
Best Bites Seared diver scallops over avocado, jícama, and ruby red grapefruit salad with Pommes Paille and sweet carrot-soy essence; Kobe beef medallions with watermelon and edamame
Hot Seat Wherever you sit, look up and admire the vaulted ceilings and the Japanese lanterns overhead.
Don't Miss Even if it's the only sushi you order, start off with the crispy tuna—a stylized wedge of spicy tuna, flash-fried sushi rice, avocado, jalapeños, and roe.