Best New Restaurants 2012

Our food scene has never been more vibrant, and with global street eats, Scandinavian-inspired cuisine, and modern comfort food, it’s a thrilling time to be a foodie in the Mile High City. Book a table at one of these eight newcomers—and taste the future of Denver dining.

March 2012

Tag Raw Bar

Trend: Small plates, chef’s counter

Tucked below the glitz of Larimer Square, you can taste the future of Mile High dining inside TAG Raw Bar’s small, urban space. Perch on one of the tangerine-colored bar stools, start with some sparkling rosé sake, and order the Fire ’n’ Ice (jewel-like hiramasa and tuna oshizushi) and the tender kangaroo tartar (warmed to room temperature with a blowtorch). Or, settle in for a several-hour, seven- or nine-course tasting menu. Either way, come prepared for food you won’t find anywhere else in town. Chef-owner Troy Guard and his team turn out wildly creative plates that riff on a variety of Asian and Pacific influences to create something wholly new.

At TAG Restaurant, one floor up and a couple of doors down, Guard has distinguished himself as a wizard at juxtaposing textures and flavors, while not falling prey to the trappings of clichéd “fusion” cuisine. With Raw’s casual but hip atmosphere, and dishes such as raw fish tacos with corn nuts and new-style oysters and hearts of palm, Guard may have created a spot that even outshines the original TAG. Expect the newly expanded space (34 seats added to the original 32) to only add to the buzzy vibe. 1423 Larimer St., #010, 303-996-2685, tagrawbar.com

■ Opened: March 2011

■ Order this: Fire ’n’ Ice oshizushi, yellowtail tiradito, ahi jalapeño