With nearly 30 restaurants in the running, we whittled the list down to the best eight eateries in the Mile High City.
Ones to Watch
With the end of each year comes a flood of new restaurants. This year is no different: In fact, there’s an abundance of spots we’re anxious to try out. Here’s our crib sheet for attention- getting restaurants that either opened shortly after we closed this issue or are still in the works.
Aria (Target opening: December) If anyone can make a go of Cherry Creek’s most notorious address (250 Josephine St., the former home of Papillon Cafe, Indigo, Go Fish Grille, Tula, and Juicy Lucy’s Steakhouse), it’s chef Michael Long. After all, he made Opus, his eight-year-old fine-dining restaurant in Old Town Littleton, a resounding success despite an off-the-path location. Aria’s menu will resemble Opus in terms of inspiration and technique, but Long vows to make it affordable enough for everyday dining. 250 Josephine St., 303-377-4012
Bittersweet (Target opening: December) Standing at the former site of Gary’s Auto Service on East Alameda Avenue and Pennsylvania Street, chef Olav Peterson and his wife, Melissa Severson, were able to look beyond the barren garage and surrounding parking lot. Instead, they saw the opportunity to turn the lot into a “farm in the city” with 500 feet of usable garden space. The vegetables, fruits, herbs, and edible flowers planted on the grounds will work their way into Peterson’s artisanal menu. 500 E. Alameda Ave., bittersweetdenver.com
Edge Restaurant & Bar (Opened: October 19) Chef Simon Purvis, a 20-year veteran of Four Seasons hotel restaurants, is charged with running this progressive American steak house—and making it stand out in a city already awash in steak. Look for cuts of dry-aged local beef and wild game. 1111 14th St., 303-389-3050, edgerestaurantdenver.com
The Kitchen Café (Target opening: spring 2011) As business continues to grow for the Kitchen owners and chefs Kimbal Musk and Hugo Matheson, they’re adding a third eatery to their repertoire. The space will be more publike than conventional cafe, and the dishes will be priced accordingly. 1035 Pearl St., Boulder
Lou’s Food Bar (Target opening: December) Just weeks after opening Green Russell, a bar underneath Larimer Square, Frank Bonanno is turning his sights on Sunnyside. While West 38th Avenue might seem like an odd location for him to open a restaurant, Bonanno is confident that an affordable American bistro with French influences will be a good fit. We look forward to tucking into the house-made pâtés and the mozzarella-stuffed meatballs. 1851 W. 38th Ave., 303-458-0336, lousfoodbar.com
Oak at Fourteenth (Target opening: November) Here’s a restaurant where your Manhattan won’t take a backseat to the farm-to-table menu. That’s because owner Bryan Dayton (formerly of Frasca Food and Wine) is a master mixologist, and he and chef Steve Redzikowski have devised a menu that takes its cues from the cocktail list. 1400 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-444-3622, oakatfourteenth.com
Olive Oil (Target opening: spring 2011) After James Mazzio was named a “Best New Chef” by Food & Wine Magazine in 1999, he faded a bit from view. But for the last several months he’s been enchanting sandwich lovers at Littleton’s Pickles Deli. And soon, next door, he’ll be opening Olive Oil, a rustic Italian-Mediterranean spot promising olive oil tastings, Neapolitan pizzas, hand-rolled pasta, and seafood. 5869 S. Alkire St., Littleton
Ototo Food and Wine Bar (Target opening: November) When Toshi Kizaki decided to reimagine the nine-month-old Den Deli, he didn’t waste any time. He posted a note apologizing for any inconvenience, locked the doors, and sent Darren Pusateri, his executive chef, to San Sebastián, Spain, for research. Ototo’s à la carte menu will have global influences, but during lunch will serve traditionally Japanese ramen, udon, and bento boxes. 1518 S. Pearl St., 303-777-0691, ototoden.net
Pizzeria Locale and Caffè (Target opening: late November for the cafe and early December for the pizzeria) Anyone who has dined at Frasca already knows the quality to expect from chef and co-owner Lachlan Mackinnon Patterson. The same will be true at the restaurant’s next-door siblings. Pizzeria Locale will serve Naples-style pizza fired in a 10,500- pound brick oven imported from Italy. The adjacent Caffè will function as a quick-service panini, bruschetta, salumi, cheese, and espresso spot. 1730 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-442-3003 and 1720 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-442-9464, frascafoodandwine.com
The Pinyon (Target opening: December) There’s some argument as to whether being next to Frasca’s new ventures will help or hurt chef-owner Theo Adley’s forthcoming restaurant, but only time will tell. Adley says his American menu is inspired by the “many seasons and environments of Colorado.” Plan on at least a few game-meat dishes and fried chicken. 1710 Pearl St., Boulder
Street Kitchen Asian Bistro (Target opening: late December) Mary Nguyen, owner of Parallel Seventeen, is taking to the suburbs to open her second restaurant. The eatery, which will be located at the Vallagio at Inverness, will focus on Asian street food from Japan, Malaysia, China, Thailand, and Vietnam—and we bet that even downtowners will make the trek. 10111 Inverness Main St., Englewood, 303-799-9800
TAG Raw Bar (Target opening: early 2011) Buoyed by the success of TAG Restaurant, chef-owner Troy Guard is expanding on his social food theme—and this time he’s serving everything raw. The menu will be entirely uncooked, and while there will be salads and sashimi, there will also be meat, which can then be cooked tableside shabu-shabu (hot pot) or hot rock style. The raw bar will be located in the new Walkway on Larimer Square.