Best New Restaurants 2009

They are all hip, refined places to see—and be seen. But, most of all, the food is excellent. This winter, escape to one (or more) of Denver’s most fabulous new eateries for a meal that’s guaranteed to please your palate.

December 2009

Arugula Bar e Ristorante

2785 Iris Ave., Boulder

Chef Alec Schuler doesn't just pay lip service to sustainability: Beams decorating Arugula's kitchen window are reclaimed; the floors are made of refabbed bits and pieces of wood waste from furniture manufacturers; and Arugula's menu (printed on recycled paper, what else?) is locally and seasonally focused. Schuler, who also owns Arugula, takes his mission one notch further by anchoring the menu with wholesome, nutritionally sound dishes; what's good for you is also good for the environment, which is to say naturally raised meats, organic produce, and sustainably sourced seafood. The result is a rustic Italian menu with an ever-changing roster of appetizer and entrée specials. But when dishes like Long Family Farm pork loin with grilled apple and roasted chicken risotto with Hazel Dell mushrooms arrive, you'll forget all about Schuler's noble premise and simply revel in the exquisite balance of flavor and texture. The bonus: You can feel good about a meal here—from start to finish.

Hot Seat
The booths in the back lend themselves to more intimate conversation, but the middle of the dining room is where the action is.

Don't Miss
House-made vin santo pâté; white beans with Molinari pancetta

Did You Know?
Chef Schuler attended the Natural Gourmet Institute, a nutritionally oriented cooking school, and 80 percent of his dishes can be made vegan.